QBO, Aussie gov’t link up to increase women tech entrepreneurs in PH

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Local incubator QBO (pronounced as “kubo”) has teamed up with the Australian government in efforts to increase the number of women entrepreneurs in the Philippine technology startup space.

In a virtual conference, QBO said it has partnered with Australia’s “Investing in Women” in the joint initiative called “Startup Pinay.”

“Investing in Women” is a government-backed organization aiming to catalyze “inclusive economic growth through women’s economic empowerment” in Southeast Asia.

QBO currently provides support to startups “of any size, vertical, and development stage through several programs and services that are based off actual startup needs.”

Rene “Butch” Meily, president of QBO, said the tech incubator believes that it is worthy to invest on women entrepreneurs, noting that many global incubators lend only to women – a recognition that women “continue to be the pillars of the family.”

Sheona Mckenna, counsellor of the Australian Embassy, said there is huge “growth potential” for women in technology. She said that while gender equality remains, efforts are underway to give women “greater participation” in technology-related startups.

The official, quoting a study, said only 18% of startups in the Philippines have women founders. This is roughly the same in Australia, where women are “grossly underrepresented,” McKenna said.

She noted that notions still exist that place women under “caring roles” and men under “breadwinner” roles.

McKenna said one of the goals of the Australian government in partnership with QBO is “to create strong profile of women startups in the Philippines,” and encourage women to lead technology start ups.

Kat Chan, QBO director, said the Startup Pinay was actually started in 2016. The initiative aimed to encourage potential startups.

Chan said the initial bootcamps were able to invite quite a number of startups, but only a few of these startups have women as part of the team.

However, there have been major improvements in 2018 and 2019 were the number of women participants became noticeably bigger, she said.

Chan said almost all of the current Startup Pinay attendees conferences now have women as part of the team.

She said Startup Pinay works on three goals: exposure, network, and capacity building for female led startups.

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