Filipino women entrepreneurs can build strong networks and strike business deals as they expand globally through the SheTrades Philippines hub, the first in Asia.
The Department of Trade and Industry-Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) launched the hub during the National Export Congress (NEC) on Thursday.
“We can do a lot together to bolster the international competitiveness of Filipino women-owned businesses in the Philippines and to support them to tap into regional and global value chains,” ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said.
Coke-Hamilton said the hub’s launching was “timely” as the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are in dire need of additional support to overcome the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis.
She cited data from the ITC survey showing that MSMEs in the Philippines were twice as likely as large firms to anticipate business closure within three months, and nine percent of companies expected to shut down permanently due to the crisis.
She said Covid-19 has accelerated adoption of digital technologies which requires women-led MSMEs to invest in digital solutions to reach more consumers and keep pace with shifting consumer demand.
Coke-Hamilton said SheTrades hub implemented a digital transformation program which supports women-owned businesses to access available technologies, promote digitization, as well as digitalization.
The hub also provides opportunities to them for networking, learning through virtual space, and connections to online buyers, she said.
“By joining the hub, they will also become part of a global SheTrades network comprising more than 20,000 women-owned businesses from about hundred different countries,” she added. “We know that with adequate support and networks, women-led businesses can play a major role in the economic recovery and job creation in the Philippines.”
Trade Undersecretary Abdulgani Macatoman said SheTrades Philippines hub is envisioned to support existing and aspiring women entrepreneurs to widen their network, sell products and services, and access the learning program and market tools to enhance their participation in international trade.
“We support this initiative and we look forward to continue working together in helping our MSMEs, especially our women entrepreneurs, reach their full potential in the global market,” he said.
DTI Undersecretary for regional operations group Blesila Lantayona said they hope to address the challenges brought about the pandemic, particularly to exporting enterprises.
“This collaboration actually really excites us with the opportunities to further develop the capacities of our women MSMEs to export. We already have a number of programs on this and we have to make sure that these complement, they prepare our women entrepreneurs to really jump to the next level which is being offered by SheTrades,” she said.
Meanwhile, SheTrades aims to connect three million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2021.
To join, women entrepreneurs need to register at SheTrades.com and download the mobile app.