THIRTY-NINE small craft businesses are now working closely with a team of designers across four provinces in the Philippines to help them come up with new product offerings that are essential during this pandemic era.

Dubbed Kalibutan Project, this latest initiative spearheaded by the Department of Trade and Industry 7 “brings together designers, craft businesses, and artisans to exchange ideas, learn new ways of making and explore what it means to be a maker and a designer during the pandemic.”

This project is supported by the Design Center of the Philippines with the participation of a select group of product and communication designers all across the region led by creative director Debbie Palao.

Of the 39 small and medium enterprises, 15 are from Cebu, 10 from Negros Oriental, four from Siquijor and 10 from Bohol.

“Kalibutan is a product development project. We wanted to help our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) pivot in terms of their product offerings because Covid has really changed the market and buying behaviors,” said DTI 7 Director Ma. Elena Arbon in an interview. “Most of our products were geared as pasalubong and that market (for pasalubong) is in the doldrums as of now.”

Tourism has been one of the industries battered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Arbon said the final product of this collaboration made by artisans and designers takes the form of Do-it-Yourself (DIY) kits that are suited to the current pandemic lifestyle.

“It can be a plant care kit for the plantita, or a game for young kids, or objects to help make everyday work from home scenarios better,” the project’s website noted.

“These DIY kits will be sold. The products are geared for those who need to be active or creative while they are sheltering in place,” said Arbon.