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Time to shine the light on Filipina entrepreneurs

March is Women’s Month and for years now, Go Negosyo marked it by honoring Filipina entrepreneurs.

Women entrepreneurs are courageously shattering barriers and surpassing expectations. Despite encountering many obstacles, including restricted access to capital and gender-based prejudices, Filipinas have been achieving extraordinary progress, showcasing their value as accomplished entrepreneurs. Through their ingenious concepts, grit and spirit, they are making substantial contributions to the economy while simultaneously inspiring future generations of entrepreneurs.

In the Philippines, Filipinas have to struggle harder because they take on other traditional tasks such as looking after the children and keeping house. It has been a life of equal work but with an unequal burden, but Filipinas have triumphed nonetheless.

I have been surrounded by accomplished women for many years in my work in the private sector and with government. They run the gamut of technocrats, professional managers, top executives and, most especially, entrepreneurs. I meet amazing and inspiring Filipina entrepreneurs all the time during Go Negosyo’s mentoring events. Some of them I have had the privilege of mentoring, and they never fail to amaze me with their determination and resourcefulness.

Why is it important to nurture and lift up women to their full potential? Women entrepreneurs are important to the economy’s growth because of the wide-ranging impact of their enterprises. In small communities, they help employ and uplift their neighbors and, in the process, help so many others. Because encouraging women to become entrepreneurs has so many benefits to the community and contributes to building a prosperous and peaceful society, gender equality and women empowerment are among the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Women are resourceful, creative and determined entrepreneurs. We see this time and again as we go about our programs such as the Women Summit and our recently concluded project, Uplifting the IP Women of Davao.

What we’ve confirmed from these programs and projects is that if we give women entrepreneurs access to the necessary tools to become successful entrepreneurs – the money, the markets and the mentoring – they uplift not only their own lives but those of the people around them.

With our project with the New Zealand embassy and the Ireland embassy, we introduced the IP (Indigenous Peoples) women of the Matigsalug tribe to go beyond their immediate markets in Davao and reach out to the world with their handcrafted products. After three years of working with the local government and the tribe, the women of the community now have a formal association and have the digital literacy to sell online their products, which also benefited from training the crafters in designs that have a broad appeal to overseas markets.

The good news is, the project can be replicated with other IP communities in the Philippines, and needs only support in terms of capacity training, market linkages, monitoring and instruction on designs and trends.

A crucial element of our project with the IP women is the use of social media and e-commerce technology to help them sell their products. Our experience with the project, as well as our interactions with Filipina entrepreneurs during our mentoring sessions, inspired us to adopt the theme “Harnessing the Digital Age to Empower Women” for this year’s Women Summit this coming Saturday.

Digital technology has truly broken barriers for many Filipina entrepreneurs. With the Philippines being one of the most (if not the most) active countries on social media, it was easy for Filipinas to harness its power to reach markets that would otherwise have been inaccessible to them. During the pandemic, many of them turned to YouTube to learn new skills. Some even discovered that they had a knack for live selling on Facebook or for creating content on TikTok.

For many Filipina entrepreneurs who work out of their homes, social media proved to be the boost they needed. Some of the entrepreneurs we’ve met promoted heavily on social media and utilized e-commerce sites to sell their products, and eventually made enough money to push into brick-and-mortar territory, such as supplying convenience stores and opening physical branches.

I remember mentoring a former public school teacher who, during the pandemic, decided to make bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) to augment the family income. While she was able to sell her products using her network of friends and family, it wasn’t until she started selling online using TikTok that she experienced a surge in sales and eventually earned enough to hire people and even buy her own home. Same with the grandmother who sold handmade hair accessories. With the help of her digital-savvy grandchildren, she took her products to the next level by using new tools to sell to a wider market.

These women’s products and innovations are borne out of, I suppose, women’s unique insights into what appeals to people – be it chocolate- or matcha-filled ice cream cone tips, affordable coffee creations delivered for free to the customer’s doorstep or professionally made “dirty ice-cream.” It is always a revelation whenever I meet small entrepreneurs like them, and it inspires me to continue holding them up as examples to other aspiring Filipina entrepreneurs.

I look forward to meeting more of them this Saturday at the Women Summit at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay. As we have done in previous years, we will give out the Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs Awards during the event to outstanding Filipina entrepreneurs who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made meaningful impact in their communities.

Attendees can also listen in to the invited speakers who will share their experiences and successful business models that can be replicated.

We need more Filipina entrepreneurs. After all, as the saying goes, women hold up half the sky.

Source: Go Negosyo -


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