EJ Mariano wanted to create a movement to elevate his fellow Filipinos living in poverty. In 2014, he launched AKADA Ltd. Design Co. to provide Filipino artisans and designers with a unique opportunity to collaborate on the creation of high-quality travel bags that highlight the beauty of handwoven textiles. The goal of the company is not only to display the best of the Philippines to the rest of the world but also to take the quality and beauty of their work beyond the local market for others to see and appreciate. Mariano says preserving cultural heritage is the reason behind AKABA’s birth, but that Facebook is responsible for its growth.
The company's main online presence is through social media, and now, thanks to Facebook and Instagram, AKABA will expand to four retail shops in order to better support their online growth and development. As the company collaborates with more weaving communities throughout the Philippines, Facebook helps keep the company in the public eye all around the world and get the word out about all the weaving communities have to offer. The company is a fair trade advocate and provides a dignified working environment, giving the poor in a number of communities a chance to excel and succeed with the beautiful artisanship they offer.
Today, the company has grown from the three original founders to a staff of 25 and has expanded into 10 different communities of weavers. AKABA has also been able to sell its products all over the world, helping to lift more than 30 families out of poverty. Mariano says this is something the company accomplished with the help of Facebook. "Facebook and Instagram have played a key role in growing our business," he said. The company produces more than 200 bags each week, and the main communication platform between customers, the company, and the communities of artisans is Facebook Messenger.