Written by JIMMY CALAPATI
If women are able to reach their full economic potential, Asia Pacific economies including the Philippines could grow by an additional $89 billion annually, a study done by the Asia-pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) showed.
According to the study Access to Trade and Growth of Women’s SMEs in APEC Developing Economies, opportunities for starting businesses exist for both men and women in the Philippines as evidenced by the greater percent of women owners of nascent businesses and women’s relatively high level of entrepreneurial activity.
But although Filipino women own 45 percent of business enterprises, these are generally nascent businesses (69 percent), while men more often own established businesses (66 percent).
“Therefore, despite these trends and enabling mechanisms, there remains an underrepresentation in the number of women entrepreneurs among established businesses, suggesting a set of factors that limit women when it comes to managing and operating a business,” APEC said.
Researchers have also found that while women play a strong role in starting a business, family responsibilities put time constraints on the amount of time they can put into their businesses.
Furthermore, social services available to women to enable them to continue putting time into their business with a family were “generally insufficient.”
“As such, women are typically found in activities that permit them to balance family responsibilities with income generating activities such as retail trade, food preparation or home–‐based piecework. In particular, younger women with small children tend to start businesses that allow them to remain close to their home,” APEC said.
The same study said that SMEs represent 99.6 per cent of all registered businesses in the Philippines, account for 32 per cent of GDP and employ 70 per cent of the work force.
Citing various economic studies that argue for the greater participation of women in the economy, female executives and advocates yesterday launched the first in what could be a series of programs for women.
The Young Women Entrepreneurs Boot Camp 2013 (YWEB) is a three-day seminar to be held from Sept. 23 to 25 in Manila for women who own their own businesses and have been operating for at least two years.
It is organized by the Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (SPARK) and the US Embassy.
SPARK Philippines president Mel Alonzo and US Embassy Economic Officer Katy Bondy explained that the bootcamp hopes to encourage more women to participate in the economic sector.
“Countless studies have shown that countries that encourage economic participation and entrepreneurial activity from women tend to do better overall. We need to empower more women to do business,” Alonzo said.
Bondy, meanwhile, said Filipinos women “need to be included in economic activities in order for countries to truly experience development and peace.”
To be held in September, the YWEB Boot Camp 2013 will provide opportunities for young women business owners to be mentored by successful businesswomen and other experts.
Among the entrepreneurs who shared their experiences at the launch were Pacita Juan of the ECHO store which promotes merchandise from marginalized communities all over the country and Noreen Bautista of EcoIngenuity which produces bags, journals and gadget covers from water hyacinth under the Jacinto&Lirio label.
More networking opportunities with successful businesswomen and the formation of alliances were recommended by the APEC study to boost the participation of women in the economy. YWEB learning modules will also allow them to level up their enterprises.
To participate in the seminar, women entrepreneurs must submit a company profile describing their business, products or services, accompanied by a copy of their Department of Trade and Industry registration papers and their financial statements for the past two years.
Ten participants each from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao will be chosen to join the three-day workshop. Of those 30, one will receive USD5,000 for the best and most innovative business plan. Three runners-up – one each from Luzon Visayas and Mindanao – will receive USD1,000. Deadline for application is on July 31 and can be submitted to email@example.com.
Speakers from Google, Citibank and other organizations will mentor the YWEB participants on strategic topics. Other firms and organizations contributing to the event are the Micro and SME Development department of the Department of Trade and Industry, Small Business Guarantee and Finance Corp. Planters Development Bank, Card Bank, Primeiro Partners and more.