Policy options to support women-owned biz in cross-border e-commerce pushed

The government can provide capacity building for e-commerce adoption and scaling up to women-led micro, small and medium enterprises (WMSMEs) for them to engage in cross-border e-commerce and sustain their businesses, according to a study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

In a webinar, PIDS project development officer Jean Clarisse Carlos said this is among the key policy options concerning WMSMEs engaged in cross-border e-commerce identified in a discussion paper titled “Analysis of the Cross-Border E-commerce Environment for Philippine Women-led MSMEs: Challenges and Opportunities”.

“So education and skills are key factors in capacitating women-led MSMEs to sustain their businesses and participate in cross-border trade effectively,” she said.

Carlos said although the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) supports businesses through its capacity building programs –ranging from e-commerce adoption to export promotion, it has no particular activities for women-led enterprises.

“Thus PTTC may consider developing more gender-specific training programs to address the unique needs and demands of WMSMEs,” she added.

Carlos also underscored the need for scaling-up and sustainability as WMSMEs were established in response to the movement restriction caused by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Hence, there is a need to acknowledge that financing infrastructure, implementation of programs and other assistance are necessary for women-led MSMEs to sustain and scale-up their future of operations,” she said.

Carlos said mainstreaming access to these services and programs and enhancing coordination among stakeholders thus can help WMSMEs engage in cross-border trade.

She added creating a national repository containing capacity building and other programs and policies focusing on women-led MSMEs and cross-border ecommerce must be also considered.

This, as despite the continuous and comprehensive efforts by various stakeholders, women-led businesses specifically have difficulty connecting to the internet, securing loans and funding for their operating costs and future expansion, processing information and
procedures on cross-border trade, and participating in government-led programs, among others.

Carlos said these policy options can address some of the key challenges facing WMSMEs for cross-border e-commerce.

Among these are capacity-building for e-commerce adoption, scaling-up, cross-border opportunities, custom related, among others; access of WMSMEs to the programs, infrastructure, financing, capacity building, and other opportunities to aid them; and scaling-up.

“Scaling-up since most businesses were only established as a remedy for the pandemic as well as sustainability focusing on staying afloat, management, competitiveness, and among others; and lastly, equity of opportunities for all genders to participate in the cross-border
e-commerce is the goal,” the PIDS discussion paper said.

Carlos said gender-specific issues have persisted despite policies and programs supporting Philippine MSMEs.

“So according to several respondents, most government programs are not gender-specific. Since men and women face unique challenges, a one-size-fits-all program does not always yield positive results. Therefore, a collection of sex-aggregate data must be strengthened to effectively develop targeted program(s) benefiting WMSMEs engaged in cross-border e-commerce (trade),” she added.

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