One-Stop Women Enterprise Development Desks: Spurring LGU-Led Gender-Responsive Enterprise Development
Micro-enterprise development for women microenterprises (WMEs) in Metro Naga consisted mainly of sporadic livelihood/microenterprise development efforts, a limited network of institutions supporting WMEs and the limited capacity of LGU personnel to engage in microenterprise development. Overall, microenterprises were considered as just “recipients” of national government agency (NGA) programs involving Metro Naga’s local government units.
In response to the situation, the Metro Naga Development Council (MNDC) and the GREAT Women Project (GWP) has adopted a four-way strategy to build an enabling environment for women microentrepreneurs. (The MNDC is a voluntary organization of 14 local governments in Naga which had been in existence since 1995. Eight MNDC member municipalities are implementing the GWP). First, MNDC is crafting policies to bring development to the WME Sector. Second, MNDC is seeking service delivery for WMEs in line with the SMED Harmonization Plan. Third, MNDC is exploring social protection schemes for WMEs. Fourth, MNDC continues to build the capacity of its LGUs to better support WEE development.
With the implementation of GWP, Metro Naga is adopting a more systematic LGU-based support mechanism that would serve as a focal point for the delivery of comprehensive services to women micro-entrepreneurs. The GWP local government partner, Metro Naga Development Council (MNDC) in Camarines Sur, is setting up One-Stop Women Enterprise Development Desks (OSWEDDs) throughout MNDC Alliance municipalities. The OSWEDD is a WME help desk that facilitates women’s access to common service facilities such as information support, entrepreneurship training, financing support, product development and access to market services. OSWEDD provides enterprise development trainings on business counselling, strategic marketing, and financial management services. It also conducts mentoring/immersion to facilitate business planning, production of product catalogs and trade fair organizing.
The OSWEDD can be adopted by all MNDC LGUs, but may vary across LGUs as to the structure and implementation mechanisms. For example, an OSWEDD in a highly agricultural area would likely have the Department of Agriculture as its priority linkage, whereas an OTOP-driven local economy would benefit more by linking with the Municipal Planning and Development Office. In 2009, MNDC partnered with the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) School of Graduate Studies to strengthen these women enterprise desks.
MNDC’s experience in implementing the GWP has underscored the need to identify and develop the champions of microenterprise development and the importance of LGUs in enterprise development as a whole.
Reuel Oliver, Executive Director, MNDC