Women in Media Unite for the GREAT Women Brand
Behind every great man is a great woman, so we say. During the event dubbed as “Women in Media” last February 21, 2013 which was held in Milky Way Cafe in Makati, it was a little different. That event confirmed that behind great products are great women.
The GREAT Women Brand (GWB) Program
From its rather long official project name title:” Value Adding Selected Products of Women Micro Enterprises in Selected GREAT Women Project Sites and Development of Women’s Product Brand to Markets”, the project now assumes the shorter title of the “Great Women Brand Program”. This project was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in coordination with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW). The ECHOsi Foundation which is the the non-profit development arm of ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle retail brand partnered with PCW in an effort to fill in the gaps of product development commonly encountered by women entrepreneurs in relatively small communities.
GREAT Women is the acronym for Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women. ECHOsi, on the other hand stands for Enabling Communities with Hope and Opportunities Sustainable Initiatives. From the meanings of these acronyms alone, it can be surmised that this initiative is being done to provide an enabling environment for women to be economically productive.
Target Participants of the Program
The GREAT Women Brand Program of PCW and the ECHOsi Foundation are seeking women-produced community products. So far, they have already visited Quezon, Metro Naga in Camarines Sur, Bohol, Iloilo, Leyte, Davao del Sur and PALMA+PB Alliance in North Cotabato. Prior to this search, the founders of the pioneering green retail store ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestylenamely Chit Juan, Jeannie Javelosa, and Reena Francisco have been going all over the country since 2009. They were looking for specific products from women microenterprise groups and cultural communities that can be leveled-up and promoted in high-end markets through the ECHOstore.
ECHOstore’s flagship store is located in Serendra, Fort Bonifacio Global City. There are two branches which are located in Podium, Ortigas Center and the Eton Centris Mall in EDSA corner Quezon Avenue. In order to achieve the goal of bridging the gap between the “humble” sources of the products and the “elite” environment of the market they wish to penetrate, the need for product development was identified. Obviously, a great product idea has to translate its greatness in a product standard that can compete with any other product that poses a challenge to it.
The Ongoing Efforts within the Program
The GREAT Women Brand Program ultimately seeks to place all the worthy women-produced products that do not have the benefit of branding in one identifiable brand that represents quality. The program has already identified the gaps that currently exists which can hinder the success of a product. These are in the areas of product design and creation, product variants, certification, linking to stakeholders, market access and opening, and microfinancing.
ECHOsi has posed a challenge to women entrepreneurs who wish to be part of the program. Potential participants must go through initial assessment and complete their assignments which will be given to them for the improvement and development of their proposed products. This phase is very critical since it will determine their inclusion in the program. Their hard work will be rewarded by being able to use the GREAT Women Brand which can be their stepping stone towards their own brand in the future.
The ECHOsi Foundation has made it clear that GWB – the brand can be licensed for use by any women’s microenterprise venture which would require branding to help them get into the market subject of course to the product standard set by the program. It is a positive development that notable designers, exporters, and product developers have been traveling around the country with ECHOsi Foundation to lend their expertise and knowledge specifically to women communities whose products show real potential. Clearly, this program is not merely for talk but rather of actions that can lead to realization of goals.
Launching of the GREAT Women Brand
The formal launching of the The GREAT Women Brand will fittingly happen during Women’s Month on March 19, 2013. It will be held at the Yuchengco Museum located at RCBC Plaza, Sen. Gil Puyat corner Ayala Avenues in Makati City. It is expected to showcase the various products that have passed the standards of the program.
The “Women in Media” event was intended to get the support of women in media specifically in spreading the information that there is such a thing as the GREAT Women Brand initiative. The organizers couldn’t have tapped a better group to do the job. Women (and men) from various forms of media came in full force to hear what this program is all about.
It was an opportune time to see how people driven by a common objective can work together and find real hope that their program can actually succeed. Given the length of this post, I know that I have not even made a dent on the quantity of information that needs to be known about the program. This is probably because the program’s story never really ends.
It is worth mentioning the presence of the Ms. Jeannie Javelosa, the President of the ECHOsi Foundation Inc.; Ms. Pacita Juan, President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and the ECHOstore; Ms. Remedios Rikken, Chairperson of the Philippine Commission on Women, and H.E. Christopher Thornley, Ambasador of Canada to the Philippines who good-naturedly noted his “token male presence” in the event. Program partners including Milky Way Cafe and Tesoro’s Group of Companies were also represented. Last but not the least, three of the most promising women entrepreneurs under the program came and shared their stories in relation to their journey of developing their own products.
This event has inspired in me to resolve to do the best that I can in what I do since I now understand that great women can rise from anywhere. I don’t usually co-relate my blogging as being part of mainstream media. After attending this “Women in Media” event however, I actually felt like applying the standards of the GREAT Women Brand Program in my own work.