Exporsal = Exportaciones Salvadoreñas


Profile of CONTIGO’s partner Exporsal

Supply Chain

Trading Partner: Exporsal
Function: Coordinator of different crafts, exporter
Structure: Associated producers, own finishing unit
Trade ways: Direct import CONTIGO

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
  • Start of networking with Artisans throughout El Salvador
  • Implementation of standards in terms of quality, material, design, finishing to meet international market requirements. Exporsal starts participating at European tradefairs.
  • 1981: Successful establishment of a stable customer base in 12 countries worldwide
  • 1982: Cecilia Castro passes away, her daughter Elena Maria de Alfaro takes over the management of Exporsal
  • 1986: Complete restructuring of the company, to make it economically sustainable
  • 1987-1991: With support of the Agency of International Development, AID, Exporsal manages to stabilise business.
  • Since 1992: Exporsal continues to implement the company philosophy of Cecilia in terms of premium quality and design. Social benefits are expanded: employees’ children receive financial support for their school supplies.
  • 2008: CONTIGO starts collaboration with Exporsal
  • 2011: Exposal extends producer network to 200 artisans nationwide
  • 2015-2016: Declining sales require a realignment of product ranges in order to compete on the international market
  • 2014: Switching from handweaving to powerloom weaving in fabric production, while number of weavers started to decline (age of Weavers)
  • 2017: Starts of an upcycling project in collaboration with a weaving company in Guatemala. Development of upcycled denim fabrics with different textures and designs, for hammocks, swings and pillow covers.
  • 2020: Situation under Corona pandemic:
    Lockdown hits El Salvador in March for five months, decline of incoming orders in the main production period of hammocks. Restructuring of the collaboration with the associated artisans in the villages in terms of material distribution, transportation and collection of goods. Personal meetings not possible. Implementation of a strict hygiene protocol in central office and external workshops, extra allowances of food and sanitation given. Transportation to personnel at main office is also given, plus, salaries are paid in full.

Cooperation with CONTIGO since 2008

Why does CONTIGO work with Exporsal
Exporsal is dedicated to giving opportunities to artisans in rural areas, where jobs are scares and hand labour still plays a major role. Social responsibility and environment friendly production shape the work of the company. Exporsal participates in local forums to fight poverty, lower violence, reduce environmental issues. In more than a decade of cooperation, we have experienced Exporsal as reliable and innovative trading partner, showing a huge effort in upscaling quality and design of the product collection.

Structure of the business

Central office

  • 17 employees on-site (9 men, 8 women)
  • Exporsal provide work for over 220 people nationwide

Operational tasks: 

    • Administration, purchase of raw materials, research, product development, design
    • Preparation and distribution of materials to associated Artisans
    • Collection of finished products, final finishing steps, assembling of different parts, quality control, logistics
    • Marketing

Associated producers:

  • Long-term collaboration with 21 workshops and about 200 artisans in handicraft and hammock production
  • Advance payments on request of artrisans, balance payment on delivery of goods
  • Factories next San Salvador specialised in cotton processing and dying
  • Weaving companies in Ilopango and Apopa with powerlooms for fabric production
  • Factories in Guatemala specialised in denim upcycling and weaving
  • Women artisan groups in the highlands of Chalatenango, El Salvador for crochet work
  • Macrame, crochet and tassel ornaments are both made in Chalatenango, San Sebastian and San Salvador.

Operational processes in hammock production: 

  • Exporsal provides designs, raw materials, and working capital to producers
  • Artisans are organized in groups of 4-6 members, specialised in:
    • Hand weave work (only few male artisans in this field)
    • Sewing works, mainly done by wives of the weavers and single mothers
    • Carving of wooden bars for hammocks and swing chairs (FSC wood)
    • Plying of threads for hanging cords (manguillos) made by female artisans
    • Hanging cords and assembling to hammocks and swing chairs made by men artisans
    • Quality checks start at the Artisans premises, lately at central warehouse


  • Exports (100%) to Europe, USA, Caribbean, Chile, Israel, and Lebanon, in total 32 countries


  • To provide permanent employment for Artisans
  • To create work opportunities in rural areas in order to prevent rural depopulation
  • To partner with NGOs to improve the living conditions of Salvadorans.
  • To support employees and craftsmen in their personal development
  • To continuously innovate and improve products and customer service to reach sustainability.

Special features

Support of a school in Sihuapilapa, La Libertad where no internet connection is available. Exporsal finances private internet access for the students’ families to participate in homeschooling during the pandemic. The schools have been closed since March 2020 (as of February 2021).

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 textile sector: US$ 359,16/month (status of 2021)
  • Average wage at Exporsal:
    • for seamstresses in high season (October- April): US$ 600-1,250/month (payment by piece)
    • for seamstresses in low season (May-September): US$ 350-500/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 Chiefs of Artisans
  • Payment of Christmas bonus
  • Higher wages plus meal in case of overtime.

Humane working conditions

Working hours:

  • 8 hours/day, Monday through Friday and 4 hours Saturday.
  • 2 breaks (1 hour for lunch and 15 minutes in the afternoon)

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)

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
  • Zoom meetings


Country information

See Encyclopaedia Britannica: El Salvador



Exporsal, El Salvador

Author: Janina Lange on 31. October 2021

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