GREAT Women Project develops high-quality women’s products for wider markets

ECHOSI co-owner and product design consultant Jeannie Javelosa coaches GREAT Women Project women microentrepreneurs on product design and development

GREAT Women Project (GWP) tapped the expertise of trainer-consultants to conduct a series of product inventory scanning and assessment activities in Iloilo and Metro Naga (MNDC) sites last January. Product development and design consultants Daniel Lichauco, Reena Francisco and Marie Jeanne Javelosa provided one-on-one mentoring with women microentrepreneurs on product design and development throughout the activity series.

Women can get sound advice from entrepreneurs who have been in business long enough to know how certain markets react to products,” GREAT Women Project Manager Luvy Villanueva explained.

This GWP activity series also sought to find and develop women microentrepreneur (WME) products into a high-quality product line for a special women’s brand being created. GWP also sought women’s products that already have the potential to be retailed in specialty stores and souvenir shops, and thus create wider markets for their products.

GREAT Women Project lined up value-laden interventions that would provide practical knowledge for WME to upscale product quality. Through the Product Inventory and Scanning in Iloilo and MNDC on January 7-8 and January 13-14 and the WME Product Assessment in Iloilo Provincial Capitol last January 24-25, WMEs were immersed on the relevance of product design, development, sustainable market and understanding of market trends. Women entrepreneurs from Quezon, MNDC, Leyte, Bohol, Davao Sur and PPALMA saw where their products could improve, learned steps to upgrade products and identified new materials/equipment for product upgrading. On a governance level, local chief executives from Naga and Iloilo committed to support WMEs, with capital for upscaling, local branding support and allocating space for local display of WME products.

Earlier, GREAT Women Project showed initial success in upscaling the roscas cookies of Barugo, Leyte. From being packaged in plastic, WMEs accessed GWP and national government support to package roscas in designed boxes and consigned them at Robinson’s supermarket chain and major malls in Leyte. Barugo-makers are now reaping better product sales.

GWP wants to replicate the same success in upscaling other WME products. GWP is now considering an initial product line for the women’s brand, including vinegrettes, moringa juice, shoes made from water hyacinths and charcoal briquettes of MNDC; hand-made paper products of Quezon; salabat lollipop (Badiangan), tsokolate (Miag-ao) and hablon-woven clothes of Iloilo; and scarves of PPALMA Alliance. Product consultants have also found potentials in developing export-quality products in hablon woven products of Iloilo and food products of MNDC.

Meanwhile, an Intensive Design Clinic held at the Iloilo Provincial Capitol last January 26-27 introduced Iloilo WMEs to new design and packaging trends, and steps to achieve new product variants for specialty markets. The design clinic was also geared towards developing products that are rooted from the heritage and culture that is distinctively Iloilo.