By Espie Angelica A. de Leon
Women in the Philippines are in a far better position where their careers and rights are concerned. The statistics speak for this:
- The 2018 Mastercard Index for Women Entrepreneurs Report revealed that the country is the ninth best economy for female entrepreneurs.
- A World Bank Report indicated that the Philippines scored 81.25 in its Women, Business, and Law Index, the fourth highest among Asean nations. A score of 100 means that men and women in that country have equal legal rights.
- Women have a workforce participation rate of 56.5% in the country, higher than the rate in most of its neighboring developing countries.
- Women make up 47% of senior management teams in local companies. The global rate is 24%. As of 2018, only 24 women were occupying the highest position in their companies in the Fortune 500 league.
Indeed, compared to women in other countries, Filipino women can go far in their lives and careers because of the rights they enjoy and the opportunities open to them.
Take the case of Ched Limson, chief operating officer (COO) of the fintech company eCompareMo.
After working in the banking industry for 30 years, Limson jumped ship and transferred to eCompareMo. Not only is fintech male dominated; it is also disruptive of current business models.
She slid into her new role, first as a consultant and then as COO, with ease.
?I just had to learn the technology side, the engine behind it all,? she related. ?At the end of the day, it?s just knowing your customers and what they need.?
Limson added that it may be because she came from banking where there are a lot of female executives.
Still, despite the statistics, some working women in the Philippines including those who have joined the circle of high-level executives and entrepreneurs still have a few negative stories to tell.
One of them is Vista Land and Lifescapes managing director Camille Villar.
?I?ve had the experience of being in a table with male CEOs,? she shared, ?and they look at me like I should be in the table of the wives.?
She added that they would ask her questions about her favorite store, where she goes to shop, as if she isn?t the top honcho of her own firm.
Villar shared her experiences and offered tips to budding female entrepreneurs during the #SHE Rules media roundtable discussion at Rockwell Club in Makati City on March 27.
With her in the panel were Department of Trade and Industry assistant secretary Blesila Lantayona and news anchor, financial literacy advocate, and academic Dr. Daniela Laurel. The event was organized by eCompareMo in celebration of Women?s Month.
?It?s something you have to overcome and not be intimidated,? said Villar, also the executive vice president of Starmalls.
Limson agreed that having the right mindset, aside from education, is a key ingredient in becoming an empowered and successful female entrepreneur.
?Regardless of what it is that you want to get into, even if it?s technology, there?s no stopping,? she said. ?If you really want something and you take the time to learn it, you can be as good as any Tom, Dick, and Harry.?
Another ingredient, added Limson, is access to funding.
Among others, eCompareMo assists people in securing business loans by matching an applicant with the list of banks and financial institutions that will most likely approve his or her loan application. The pre-selection is based on information provided by the applicant to the website.
?We are increasingly becoming digital and automated,? said chief commercial officer Chris Lopez of eCompareMo. ?We need to be able to decide automatically and digitally, and use statistical models. It also paves the way for much more secure application.?
Women entrepreneurs deserve to get these loans to fund their business ventures. After all, according to Laurel, women have been found to be better money managers than men and good entrepreneurs at that.
Studies have also shown that women in the board contribute to innovation and creativity in their organizations. Plus, there is a lot of opportunity for women to be financially stable.
?There is no real excuse for us not to be pushing ourselves further,? said Laurel as she explained these findings by economic studies.
Government has also gotten the ball rolling to empower women-led micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) including tech startups. Women-led business ventures make up 53% of DTI-registered MSMEs, said Lantayona.
Among government?s MSME-targeted programs are the Mentor Me Program which has already produced 2,358 graduates from the countryside, Shared Service Facilities which offers free equipment, Negosyo Centers, Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay, P3 microfinance program, Go Lokal which clears the path for MSME products to enter the mainstream market, and others.
Indeed, with all these opportunities from both the private and government sectors, combined with the right mindset, education, hard work, and as Villar stated, a set of supportive parents, there is no other way to go for the Filipina entrepreneur but up.
Let future statistics speak for that.