Empowering Filipina entrepreneurs

GO NEGOSYO PILIPINAS ANGAT LAHAT! - Joey Concepcion - The Philippine Star

Every year, Go Negosyo celebrates Women’s Month by hosting the Women Summit. This annual event serves as a platform to celebrate the remarkable achievements and contributions of women in various fields and industries. It aims to be a testament to their resilience and determination, inspiring the next generation of Filipinas through engaging forum discussions, inspirational talks and interactive sessions led by successful businesswomen, professionals and entrepreneurs.

The success of Women Summit year after year – as shown by how many groundbreaking ideas among women-led enterprises are shared by the participants – proves there is no shortage of reasons to celebrate women and recognize their role in fostering a vibrant MSME-led economy. I am fortunate to have been raised by a strong woman and to be surrounded by strong women throughout my life. From my wife, mother and sisters to my daughters, they have consistently demonstrated their ability to hold their own in any circumstance.

This year’s Women Summit, which we held last March 9, took on a particularly touching note when MaryKay Carlson, the US Ambassador to Manila, shared her experiences as a woman in a highly competitive and demanding profession. I am sure her words reassured the thousands of women in attendance that even the most accomplished women, including those from the First World, share and empathize with their struggles.

She was among other notable women who came to support other women. At the event was First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos, who took the time to meet and engage with the thousands of Filipina entrepreneurs who were with us there at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay. Many of them are aspiring entrepreneurs who are eager to follow in the footsteps of remarkable women such as Socorro Ramos of National Bookstore, Corazon Dayro Ong of CDO and Naty Cheng of Uratex. These women built successful businesses at a time when it was nearly impossible to do so and proved they are equal to men when it comes to resourcefulness and resilience. Nanay Coring Ramos, for example, had to close National Bookstore several times due to war and calamity, but re-emerged with a better and bigger business every time, thanks to her resolve to never give up.

Women entrepreneurs make excellent mentors to other women entrepreneurs. In Go Negosyo mentorship programs like the KMME and KAMMP and our public event 3M on Wheels, we have many accomplished women who serve as excellent mentors to small business owners. I can’t count the number of successful Filipina entrepreneurs and executives who generously volunteer their time to educate and guide fellow entrepreneurs during our public events.

That is why I am so optimistic about our Filipina entrepreneurs. Today, their natural gift for entrepreneurship is boosted and given a greater chance of success not only because they are no longer bound by traditional gender roles but also because they have now so many resources that level the playing field, not the least of which is digital technology. Several speakers we invited during this year’s Women Summit built careers or businesses using digital technology. Among them were Abi Marquez, a successful food vlogger; Een Mercado, a game streamer and e-sports star and Ana Magalona, an entrepreneur who used social media to establish her coffee franchising business.

The creative use of digital technology and social media to leverage their businesses is a common thread that runs across many of the 19 women entrepreneurs who received this year’s Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur Award. They represent diverse sectors, including food and beverage, manufacturing, services and social enterprise, and they are Allyn Joy Cabarles of Kaulayaw Coffee, Annette Patdu of Diaspora Farm, Camille Escudero of Lily of the Valley, Cristina Balao-as Cayat of Inabel Tailoring, Czarina Sevila of Avocadoria PH, Emilyn Kabor of Jireh Food Products, Katrina Blanca De Leon of Genteel Home, Maria Rafaella Louise Sol of Nuevo Ystilo, Marica Peñalosa of Ate Rica’s Bacsilog, Marie Joyce Co Yu of True Blends & Coffee, Frances Uma Espinosa of The Original Paeng’s, Jonnah Garcia of Punique Handicrafts, Marjorie Barcelona of Healthy Lemon, Leah Marie Ayeng of Prestige Paper Products, Anna Melissa Nava of 1Export Trade and Services, Anna Magalona of But First Coffee and Denise Caranto of Konu. Additionally, Robina Gokongwei-Pe was given this year’s Woman of Legacy Award.

Throughout this year’s Women Summit, a wide range of topics were discussed, each highlighting the importance of women in various industries. These topics included translating creative vision into successful businesses, envisioning sustainable agricultural enterprises, breaking gender barriers in male-dominated professions, thriving in an industry transformed by AI, effective financial management for MSMEs, leveraging digital tools for impactful branding, content creation, eco-friendly business opportunities, women in e-sports and the business of beauty.

The Women Summit serves as a powerful reminder of the incredible potential and capabilities of Filipina entrepreneurs in the digital age. By embracing digitalization and leveraging the numerous resources available, women-led businesses are poised for success like never before. It is our responsibility to provide them with the support, encouragement and opportunities to help them flourish; after all, their achievements have a profound impact on our economy and society as a whole.

There are countless reasons to celebrate women and their indispensable role in fostering a vibrant economy centered around MSMEs. The Women Summit only serves as a powerful reminder of the incredible potential and capabilities of Filipina entrepreneurs, especially in the digital age. By embracing digitalization and leveraging the numerous resources now available, women-led businesses are poised for success like never before. Women’s Month is only halfway done; there’s still more time for us to celebrate and empower the women who are shaping the future of entrepreneurship in the Philippines. Better yet, let’s celebrate them all year round.

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