Transforming Filipina entrepreneurs into digital-savvy and active e-commerce practitioners, as they adapt to the new normal, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Facebook Philippines, Shopee and Lazada launched a milestone project entitled Connecting Women Entrepreneurs to the Digital Economy.
The project aims to equip and expand market of Filipina entrepreneurs through an integrated digital marketing training on online storefronts, implementing digital marketing promotions, and leveraging digital payments to become effective online sellers.
Women entrepreneurs struggle as they encounter barriers in their entrepreneurial journey that limit their access and productivity as they balance their roles of managing household and caring for children while contributing to family income. Today, digital technology bridges home and marketplace most efficiently, expanding access to information, markets, finance, and networks. When women have access to this technology, they are better positioned to reach their full economic potential.
In 2019, data from DTI shows that 64% of their MSMEs assisted by Negosyo Centers were women. Similarly, 64% of the 5.8M individual members of the coops in NATCCO are women. In a survey conducted by DTI from June 4-17, it was found that when community quarantines were imposed, 26% of over 2000 MSME respondents ceased operations, 52% went on partial operations, and only 22% remained in full operation. Meanwhile, 91% reported a decline in sales and 74% reported a decline in the workforce.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez has noted the significance of empowering Pinay MSMEs, through e-commerce, to the nation’s job generation and inclusive growth.
“This presents the biggest opportunity we can harness in building back our communities during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. Women entrepreneurs—as agents of innovation and change—will help our country bring us towards digital connectivity as we re-open the economy, we want to see not only a new normal, but a better normal. This will create more jobs and employment for our people,” said trade chief who led the virtual ceremonial signing.
The Connecting Women to the Digital Economy program is one of the many initiatives USAID has launched to help women entrepreneurs and enterprises bounce back fast.
“USAID is pleased to collaborate as we pursue a future where digital technology spurs robust inclusive growth, fosters resilient societies, and empowers all, including women”, said USAID Deputy Chief of Office of the Economic Development and Governance Jenna Diallo.
A Digital Readiness Study that was recently conducted shows that digital women entrepreneurs are motivated to grow their business for the family and community. However, though most have started their digital journey through popular social media sites like Facebook, women entrepreneurs need more knowledge and skills to optimize the digital platform and convert engagement to sales.
Through this project, 400 women entrepreneurs nationwide with online ready products are nominated to undergo a tailor-fit and intensive capacity building program on digital marketing & promotions, online selling on popular e-commerce sites & digital payments aimed to expand market reach and grow revenues within six months.
To complement and sustain the program, 150 DTI and NATCCO personnel will undergo a mentorship program to guide mentees and ensure immediate course corrective measures for troubleshooting. Through this program, Filipina entrepreneurs will be connected and build a digital community that will bolster economic growth and job creation as they become equipped in technology to grow their business further and contribute sustainably to the Philippines digital economy.
Lazada Chief Operating Officer Carlos Barrera stated, “Through this partnership, we will arm them with the resources to strengthen and future proof their businesses for the journey ahead.
“We have long recognized the immense potential of Filipina Entrepreneurs to succeed and innovate, and we want to help them connect meaningfully with their communities so they can grow their business further and contribute to the Philippines digital economy,” said Facebook Philippines Head of Policy Clare Amador.
Shopee Associate Director Martin Yu also expressed support to the initiative, “This partnership reflects our commitment and continued efforts to empower local entrepreneurs to succeed online and setting them up for sustainability and long-term growth.”
To close the program, Regional Operations Group Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona and Gender and Development Point Person of the Department extends the excitement of the 16 regions and Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (DTI- BSMED) in charge of implementing programs for MSMEs on the ground to start the series of training.
“We are ready to take this event and drumbeat the MSME week to transform our women entrepreneurs from brick-to-mortar marketers to effective online sellers,” Underscretary Lantoyana said.