Elevating women’s entrepreneurship in the Philippines
At the core of the Philippine economy are women entrepreneurs who play a vital role in steering the nation’s growth through micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). The Asian Development Bank reported that MSMEs contribute to 40% of the country’s gross domestic product and provide employment for 63% of the population. In 2020 there were over 950,000 MSMEs, with more than half led by women.
However, challenges remain. A 2021 report from the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) showed that women confront insufficient access to productive resources, credit-related difficulties, and limited participation in global trade. They also face shortcomings in both digitalization and competitiveness.
To address these challenges, in July 2023, the International Trade Centre's (ITC) SheTrades Initiative and Visa joined forces to launch the SheTrades & Visa: Asia Pacific project. This partnership reflects a mutual commitment to strengthening women entrepreneurs in the digital economy.
Within this framework, a three-day business and networking event took place during National Exporters Week in Manila from 4 to 6 December 2023.
Over 80 Filipina women entrepreneurs attended the event, titled ‘Women entrepreneurs at the helm - Become an agile exporter’. The event was implemented by the ITC SheTrades Philippines Hub, hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry, and the Women’s Business Council Philippines (WomenBizPH).
Learning from experts and peers
The first day featured sessions with experts from ITC SheTrades, DTI, Visa, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and other SheTrades partners. Topics included core business topics like digitalization, export readiness, intellectual property and accessing financial resources.
Business networking filled the following two days. Speed networking sessions brought in potential buyers and financiers. Among the organizations present were Visa, WIPO, WomenBizPH, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, UBX Philippines, Union Bank, MyKartero, Airspeed, and In-line Forwarder.
WIPO and WomenBizPH provided peer-to-peer learning sessions and mentoring sessions.
‘We fully support initiatives like this by ITC SheTrades and DTI to help more women to succeed in business. We have assisted more than 60 million SMEs globally and have allotted $100 million to assist women-led businesses in the Asia Pacific in the next five years,’ said Ezer Escolar, Director of Products and Solutions at Visa Philippines.
‘ITC SheTrades Hub in the Philippines is proudly hosted by the DTI. We support Filipina entrepreneurs to participate in trade fairs and provide capacity building through workshops like this. So far, approximately 250 women are part of our network. I encourage all Filipina entrepreneurs in this workshop to register and be part of the SheTrades Hub so you can access opportunities that can help elevate your businesses,’ said Angie Brosas, SheTrades Hub Coordinator at DTI.
About ITC SheTrades
ITC launched the ITC SheTrades Initiative to remove barriers to women's participation in trade by working with governments, the private sector and entrepreneurs to build the business capacities of women and to create a fairer, more sustainable global economy. ITC SheTrades provides women entrepreneurs and producers with access to key knowledge, resources and networks; supports policymakers on inclusive policy reforms; and leverages public and private partnerships to amplify the impact of its work.