Exporsal = Exportaciones Salvadoreñas


Profile of CONTIGO’s partner Exporsal

San Salvador to Göttingen (Source: Google Earth)


  • Hammocks and hammock chairs
  • Cushion covers
  • Bags


San Salvador, El Salvador – distance to Europe: 9,900km

Founded in 1974


  • 1974: Exporsal (Exportaciones Salvadoreñas) founded by Cecilia Castro
  • Partnerships established with small producers throughout El Salvador
  • From 1981: Export to 12 countries
  • 1982: Cecilia Castro passes away and her daughter Elena Maria de Alfaro becomes the CEO of Exporsal
  • Her goal is to make Exporsal debt-free, which she succeeds in doing
  • Exporsal continues to implement the company philosophy of Cecilia
  • After repayment of all debts Elena Maria de Alfaro decides to stay and to continue with the company
  • Social benefits are expanded: employees’ children receive financial support for their school fees (sometimes up until high school graduation)
  • 2008: CONTIGO meets Exporsal
  • 2011: Partnerships with 200 families throughout El Salvador
  • 2011: Exporting to 32 countries
  • 2016: 220 artisans are involved in the production
  • 2016: Exporting to 42 countries

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2008

Structure of the business

Number of employees:

  • 11 employees on-site 
  • Exporsal provides work to over 220 people countrywide
  • Long-term partnerships with appr. 28 workshops

Organisation of workforce:

  • Exporsal provides designs, raw materials, and working capital to craftsmen
  • Cotton is delivered by a plant 16km from San Salvador, where the cotton is processed and died
  • Craftsmen organise themselves with their employees:
    • Cotton and wood is picked up from Exporsal
    • After finishing a product they conduct a first round of quality checks on-site
    • Delivery of finished products to Exporsal
    • Exporsal conducts a final round of quality checks, then packaging and shipping is organised


  • Exports (100%) to Europe, USA, Caribbean, Chile, Israel, and Lebanon, in total 42 countries


  • To support employees and craftsmen in their personal development
  • To partner with NGOs to improve the living and working conditions of the craftsmen and their families
  • To create work opportunities in rural areas
  • To prevent rural depopulation
  • To support the poor
  • To work with other organisations in supporting small businesses
  • To preserve the traditional art of weaving

Special features

Awarding of scholarships to the children of employees and craftsmen

Why does CONTIGO work with Exporsal: long-lasting trading partnership with Exporsal due to their high-quality products that are highly sought after. Committment to improving living conditions in throughout El Salvador.


Fairtrade classification

FTA= Fairtrade Approved


Fairtrade aspects

Exporsal complies with the following Fairtrade Principles:

No child labour

No discrimination

No discrimination due to gender, disability, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political orientation, or infection with HIV 

Fair wages

  • Minimum wage in the region: US$ 220/month
  • Average wage at Exporsal:
    • for seamstresses in high season (October- April): US$ 1,000-1,250/month (payment by piece)
    • for seamstresses in low season (May-September): US$ 400-600/month (payment by piece)
    • Other employees: US$ 300-350/month (unskilled), US$ 400-600/month (skilled)
  • Two-week payment of all salaried workers by check or by bank transfer
  • 10% of annual profit is distributed amongst employees and craftsmen
  • Payment of Christmas bonus
  • Higher wages in case of overtime (plus meals and accomodation for staying over-night)

Humane working conditions

Working hours:

  • 8 hours/day
  • 2 breaks (1 hour and 15 minutes)
  • 5.5 days/week

Social benefits:

All employees on-site receive:

  • Health insurance and pension fund (both employer and employee pay contributions) 
  • Continued payment of wage in case of sickness or accident
  • Social security insurance/ unemployment insurance (after end of the working contract employees receive a one month worth of salary in the next 12 month)
  • Paid holidays (21 days), whereas the national labour law stipulates 15 days as a minimum
  • Life insurance (in case an Exporsal employee passes away, family will receive a fixed amount to cover e.g. funeral expenses)
  • Free loans to buy machines and tools that help to improve the quality or the capacity of production, as well as to build spaces that allow producers to make the process more efficient
  • Exporsal supports the children of the employees and the craftsmen in their education (up until high school) and finances all materials needed for school, including school trips, school uniforms, laptops etc.
  • Since 2004: Exporsal awardes university scholarships to the two best students amongst staff children (Elena receives all reports, makes a decision based on them)

Educational opportunities:

  • Continuous trainings to improve productivity and quality
  • Exporsal offers vocational education
  • Training courses on health care and safety


  • Work contracts are available
  • Payroll is available
  • Pay slips are available
  • SAR (Self Assessment Report) was duly submitted to CONTIGO



  • Feedback interview during several visits in Germany
  • First visit in El Salvador is envisaged


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: El Salvador



Exporsal, El Salvador

Author: Janina Lange on 26. May 2018

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