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Freeman Cebu Business

Platforms for women

FULL DISCLOSURE - Fidel Abalos - The Freeman

Undeniably, women are special. So that, to some extent, they are afforded special treatments.  For instance, there is a law in the country that, along with kids, protects women from violence. Though there are battered husbands too, legislators aren’t keen on recognizing them. There must be some wisdom for that. Apparently, some are well demonstrated by several platforms that have been very successful to this day. 

In the past, most women, when they get married, resigned to the idea that they become purely homemakers. It has changed though through the years. In fact, a lot of women are so dominant and are occupying coveted positions in large companies.   

However, it is a fact too that some women are either traditional or so family-oriented that they give up their lucrative jobs once they get married (especially when they already have kids) and embrace homemaking fulltime. To the affluent families, well and good. Their economic needs will be more than addressed by the fathers’ income. To the poor families, however, to make ends meet will be a daily challenge. To some extent, one earner in a poor family could spell financial trouble.

So that, if you can recall, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh came into being in 1974.  Purposely, to help women (mostly, wives) from poor families start their own home-based businesses by granting low cost loans. Replicated by other countries like ours through credit cooperatives, this is, however, only addressing the need of a certain demographic.

Lest, we must forget, some wives prefer to keep their jobs to maintain or further improve their comfortable lives. Frustratingly, however, economic downturns do happen. That is part of the economic cycle. This pandemic-induced recession is one of those. Consequently, some are forced out of jobs.  While we, in the country, don’t have reliable data yet, other countries (like the USA) did have reliable information. Sadly, those in the receiving end of job terminations are women.

According to McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, “women accounted for nearly 56% of workforce exits since the start of the pandemic, despite making up just 48% of the workforce.” So sad that due to this imbalance, C. Nicole Mason, President and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research said that, “we should go ahead and call this a “shecession” (a portmanteau of “she” and “recession”). 

Fortunately, on this, Co-founders Lyn Johnson and Sara Sparhawk (from the USA) took the initiative of creating a new digital marketplace called West Tenth. This is a new digital marketplace that will give “women a platform to start and grow their home-based businesses.” Through its mobile app, “women can promote their businesses to others in the local community, then field inquiries and requests through the app’s integrated messaging platform, as well as, finalize transactions through in-app payments.”        

West Tenth’s goal is to “encourage this sort of entrepreneurship.” Or, “to help women understand that the many of the talents they’ve developed at home are, in fact, potential businesses.”  These opportunities include “home-based bakers and cooks, photographers, home organizers or designers, home florists, baby sleep consultants, party planning and event services, crafting classes, fitness training, homemade goods, and more.”

While some are using Facebook for their home businesses, this platform “centralizes local businesses in one place to make discovery easier.” In the app, “customers can browse and shop local businesses and filter by category via buttons at the top of the screen.” Then, “the results are sorted by distance and offer photos, description, and the starting price for the goods or services offered.”  Then, “through integrated messaging, users can reach out directly for a quote or more information.”  Then, to complete the purchases, a payment app is also integrated. 

Education is also a key component in this platform. At a certain fee, “business owners will be able to attend bi-monthly events, including classes focused on the fundamentals of setting up home-based businesses, marketing, customer acquisition, and other topics.” 

With these, they can hear from “guest speakers who have experiences in the home-based business market, and they’ll be able to join mastermind networking groups to exchange ideas with their peers.”

West Tenth is now catching fire in the USA. In fact, it just got seed funding from a venture capitalist.  It may take time though to feel their presence here. But why should we wait for it. The idea is there. Why won’t a local digital entrepreneur go for it?

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