PCW inks deal with private organizations to help empower women micro entrepreneurs

Women-led and women-owned micro enterprises in the Philippines can look forward to better access to vital training and financing needs to expand and level up their existing businesses.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) which is the project holder of Supporting Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) Project signed Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) with four private organizations that will complement government efforts in making the business environment responsive to women micro-entrepreneurs on June 8, 2017 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Ortigas Center, Quezon City.

Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development (Bayan Academy), Empowering Communities with Hope and Opportunities through Sustainable Initiatives (ECHOSi Foundation), National Confederation of Cooperatives in the Philippines (NATCCO) and the Socio-Economic Development Program Multipurpose Cooperative (SEDP-MPC), agreed to become key project partners in facilitating the sustainability and competitiveness of women micro enterprises in the food, woven textiles, and home-style sectors.

Together with government agencies like the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the four private sector partners will help reach out to at least 12,000 women entrepreneurs targeted to be enrolled in the Project.

Proof that convergence works

Commonly referred to as the GREAT Women Project 2, the Supporting WEE Project is guided by the key lessons learned from the implementation of the Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women) Project 1 which focused on governance and capacity building for creating an enabling environment for women micro-entrepreneurs.

One of the key insights from the first project is that the private sector, including women-owned small and medium enterprises, and large corporations can be engaged to promote WEE and facilitate growth of women’s businesses in the spirit of fair trade and inclusive business. Thus,

GREAT Women Project 2 brings in more private sector partners to complement the current efforts of government in helping women-owned and women-led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) grow their existing businesses.

Non-government or private sector partners could potentially play any of these roles under the project: (1) as link to local and global markets or as institutional buyers; (2) as business development service provider or trainer on their field of expertise; and (3) as source of additional women entrepreneurs to the 12,000 target enrollees.

Under the MOA, the four private sector partners will aid in providing women micro entrepreneurs with technical assistance on product development, productivity, and environmentally-sustainable production, and entrepreneurship and management; as well as access to financial products and services, networks and linkages, and platforms for marketing, among others.

In her message, PCW Chairperson Rhodora M. Bucoy emphasized the importance of investing in strategic partnerships to advance women’s economic empowerment in the Philippines.

“The private sector’s technical expertise and resources are valuable in complementing what the government already has, so that together we can achieve a more inclusive and sustainable economic development. The GREAT Women Project is a concrete example that such convergence is possible, which has resulted in transformative outcomes for women entrepreneurs, their workers, families, and even the duty bearers such as government and private sector,” Dr. Bucoy said.

Meanwhile, Ambassador John T. Holmes of Canada to the Philippines, congratulated the private sector partners joining the project and for committing their time, expertise, resources, and networks for women’s economic empowerment.

“An earlier phase of this project highlighted the significant, catalytic role played by the private sector, particularly in product innovation and in opening new markets for women’s products. By working together you can expand the potential of businesses to grow, and perhaps also enhance the government’s ability to deliver its services more effectively. I believe this is where innovation and transformation come from; when we challenge our usual ways of doing things to achieve greater results for all,” he said.

About the Private Sector Partners

Bayan Academy is a social development institution which teaches entrepreneurship and management education in the Philippines. Its expertise includes designing, developing and developing and delivering entrepreneurship programs for learners in various level of education spectrum – grassroot, basic education, higher education, graduate and even doctorate degree courses. As an implementing CSO partner, they commit to deliver: (1) development of specific learning modules and materials for the capacity building of women-led enterprises; (2) conduct of research on 6 priority industries’ supply, product and value chains; (3) delivery of training and business mentoring interventions; (4) development of online learning platform and; (5) customize capacity building and technical assistance (6) enrolment of additional target women entrepreneurs

ECHOsi Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes inclusive business for the sustainability and empowerment of women-led enterprises in rural areas, marginalized and cultural communities. Its work is focused on helping develop and support a supply- value chain for small producers to have access in a marketplace so consumers can have a choice to purchase artisan or eco-friendly products to support a sustainable lifestyle. ECHOsi was the major private sector partner of GREAT-1 which posted an impact reach of approximately 500 women, with around 900 additional beneficiaries through workshops, impacting around 28,500 women business owners and workers Under GREAT-2, ECHOsi aims to assist in: (1) identifying quality needs and requirements of different niche, specialty and artisan, institutional and retails markets in food and non-food products; (2) facilitation of product enhancement and development activities for WMEs based on market requirements and specifications; (3) facilitation of access to markets for WMEs, and; (4) enrolment of additional target WMEs.

SEDP MPC is a Bicol-based cooperative which specializes in business development, product enhancement and entrepreneurial management training of its members. In September last year, the cooperative began their partnership and exposure with GREAT-2 during their participation to a series of product assessment activities of the PMO in Bicol. To formalize engagement with the project, SEDP will assist on: (1) increasing capacity of women micro-enterprises to produce and market high quality, environmentally-sustainable products; (2) improving the entrepreneurial and management capacity of women micro entrepreneurs, (3) linking the WMEs with strategic players in the value chain, and; (4) additional enrolment of target WMEs.

NATCCO is a federation of cooperatives with about 863 members nationwide. It envisioned to institutionalize the cooperative in the socio-political and economic life of Filipinos. The project acknowledges the importance of the role of cooperatives in MSME development. Cooperatives provide productive loans and other financial assistance to their MSME-members to sustain and expand their businesses. As a project partner, NATCCO will focus on: (1) identifying cooperative members as business development service providers and consolidators of products of women co-op members; (2) providing trainings for enrolled WMEs on business development and financial literacy incorporating gender perspective, (3) facilitating improvement of products and expansion of its market, and; (4) source of additional enrollees for the project.

Started in 2015, the GREAT Women Project 2 is a governance and capacity development project of the Philippines and Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) that aims to promote and support a gender-responsive enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment, particularly those in microenterprises. It targets to have 12,000 enrollees by the end of the project in 2020. At present, the GREAT Women Project 2 already enrolled 2,069 women micro entrepreneurs across the country.