Loans, other financing options available for women entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs can avail of loans and other forms of financing option to scale up their business and position themselves for success even amid the pandemic.

Villgro Philippines chief executive officer Priya Thachadi said the social enterprise incubator has initiative, WE Rise, an accelerator designed to help prepare especially women-led businesses to bridge the funding gap.

“Without taking into account the pandemic issue, the reality for women MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in the Philippines alone, the financing gap for women-led MSMEs is close to USD76 billion. What does that mean? That means that the majority of the women MSMEs cannot access financing today and that is the reality,†Thachadi said in a webinar.

She said the pandemic has increased the funding gap as women entrepreneurs are experiencing an immediate cash flow crunch due to lower sales and delayed payments.

To address these problems, Thachadi said the WE Rise accelerator program offers working capital to women entrepreneurs as more of them start businesses faster than ever before globally, especially in the Philippines.

“We have data to show that women-owned MSMEs in a post-recession environment create more jobs which means that it is really important to have the lens of women and gender in any post-recovery plan. And the very, very important thing I would ask all entrepreneurs here to really think about is that there is a small capital being allocated today for the gender-lens and for women-led entrepreneurs,” she added.

Apart from providing financing options, Thachadi said the program offers customized mentorship, diagnostic, investor roadshow and impact showcase, learning labs, virtual masterclasses, and technical assistance to become investment ready.

She said they also launched during the pandemic the WE Rise Community, a platform for women-led businesses to connect, learn, collaborate, and grow with each other focused on access to finance.

Thachadi said industry experts, mentors, and investors are part of the platform, adding it is a “mix of learning and very, very customized support on investment readiness.”

Thachadi urged women entrepreneurs to identify and pursue suitable capital for their business, align with gender-lens investors, be open for learning and upskilling, and go digital to position themselves for success.

“All forms of capital equity investment may not be for your business, loans maybe not be. So you have to be quite specific about what kind of capital and what is the capital that is suitable for your type of business. And if you don’t have the skills to do that, i think the ecosystem of support exits, must educate yourself from that and for your business, and reach out for support around that before you kind of struggle through that process of fundraising,” she said.

“And of course finding your own tribe and community of support is really important to get through this difficult phase,” she added.

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