Financing, marketing aid help women micro entrepreneurs ride out pandemic

Women micro entrepreneurs (WMEs) whose business operations have been impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) are needing financing and marketing assistance to ride out the pandemic, a project study shows.

Carmen Roceli Lopez, officer-in-charge-project manager, said the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) led and executed the Supporting Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) in the Philippines project (GREAT Women Project 2) which studied the immediate effects of Covid-19 on WMEs.

Lopez said the study found that 122 or 27.66 percent of 441 respondent WMEs are not operational amid the pandemic; while 36.28 percent of them are 25-percent operational during the enhanced community quarantine.

“This is regardless of their level if they are just starting, if they just supply or if they are already export-ready. So it’s not about their level but it really showed that all of them, aside from these enterprises, all are affected,” she said in a webinar.

Lopez said only 20 respondent WMEs engaged in both food and non-food businesses, or 4.54 percent of the total, are 100-percent operational despite the quarantine measures

“In terms of sales, the survey showed that sales were reduced by either 25 to 75 percent for the WMEs and a lot of them, a good 28.12 percent, had no sales at all during the enhanced community quarantine period,” she added.

However, Lopez said there are so-called “outliers” whose sales have increased despite the impact of the pandemic. These include 10 microenterprises engaged in the production of desserts, sweets, and flour-based products.

“This was further verified with industry clusters from these sectors that in some provinces, in some regions, the demand for cacao, for instance, has increased and for flour-based products. Maybe because they have seen it as a coping strategy –eating sweets as a stress buster,” she added.

Apart from sales, Lopez said other challenges of WMEs include delivery or transport of goods; dues and obligations, loans and wages; access to other sources of income; raw materials; and access to other platforms to sell products.

In terms of available resources, Lopez said the same study indicated that 50.8 percent of the respondents said they have no capital to continue operations, while 49.2 percent said they still have resources.

She identified access to financing, working capital, or loans as the top resources that may help WMEs, followed by trade fairs and other market matching activities; product assessment and development; and e-commerce training.

“So further down the line, we will see that they are also looking forward to access to support groups… They want mentoring. They are really looking forward to spaces where they could learn and interact with other entrepreneurs and also mental health programs and the access to child support services,” she added.

Lopez said survey respondents are from Luzon and Visayas, and three regions in Mindanao.

By industry, she said the survey covered four industries –coffee, cacao, homestyle and wearables, and PFNHVC (processed fruits and nuts and select high value crops).

“So we see that the representation is quite huge from Region 11 (Davao Region), this is because we have enrolles from all priority industries in this region,” she added.

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