Philippines

Population: 
100,096,496
Number of Business Networks: 8
Number of Private Sector Initiatives: 25
Number of Government Services: 15
Labor Force Participation Rate: 
53

Introduction

The prospects are bright for women entrepreneurs residing in the Philippines. While its regional peers experienced slower growth and other economic disruptions over the last decade, the Philippines fared comparatively well. More...

The prospects are bright for women entrepreneurs residing in the Philippines. While its regional peers experienced slower growth and other economic disruptions over the last decade, the Philippines fared comparatively well. The fiscal deficit declined, domestic demand increased, and, in 2014, net inflows of foreign direct investment rose more than 60 percent. Now the Asia-Pacific region’s second fastest-growing economy after China, the Philippines is expected to expand 7 to 8 percent in 2015. These strong numbers signal a great opportunity for pulling even more of the economy’s population out of poverty, and for bolstering the entrepreneurial spirit of many determined women. To achieve its economic goals, the government of the Philippines has taken on such key structural issues as corruption, inequality, and vulnerability to natural disasters and economic crises.

One characteristic that accounts for the Philippines’ strong economic base is the consistent regard of women as highly valued members of its social, economic and political spheres. Not only has the Philippines had two female presidents, it is also one of the economies with the highest percentage of women sitting on corporate boards. In 2011, the Philippines ranked fourth, across 40 economies surveyed, in share of senior management positions occupied by women; 35 percent of these positions were held by women. These figures support the Philippines’ overall ranking in the 2014 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report—ninth out of 142 economies surveyed. The Philippines is the sole Asian economy in the top 10 since the report was first published in 2006 and ranks the highest of any economy in the Asia-Pacific region.

In recent years, the Philippines has dedicated considerable efforts toward promoting entrepreneurship, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), in all geographic regions and across all industries. This is apparent in the Philippine entrepreneurship sector’s composition. In 2011 the MSME Development Plan reported that microenterprises made up 91.6 percent of registered MSMEs in the Philippine economy. The sector is also dominated by women, albeit slightly.

Furthermore, according to a 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report, 81.8 percent of Philippine survey respondents saw entrepreneurship as a good career choice—the highest proportion in Asia and Oceania. The Philippines also ranks in the top 3 out of 70 economies in entrepreneurial intentions, perceived entrepreneurial opportunities, and perceived capabilities to start a business.

Moreover, the Philippines did well on GEM’s main indicator, “Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity,” which assesses both the share of working-age population that are about to start an entrepreneurial activity and the share that have started one within the previous 3 1/2 years. In 2013, some 6.6 percent of the adult population were reported as established business owners and 18.5 percent were engaged in early stage entrepreneurship (TEA). The economy’s TEA rate is far higher than the average for the Asia Pacific and South Asia region (12 percent). In 2014, this rate was 20.8 percent for women and 15.9 percent for men.

In addition to these statistics, an APEC and the Asia Foundation (TAF) study on access to trade and growth of women-owned SMEs in the Philippines found that Filipino women have more positive attitudes toward entrepreneurship than men do, and more women than men believe they have the capability to start a business. Moreover, 84 percent of women business owners have at least some university training.

While these are all positive indicators to the Philippine economy’s appetite for and progress in entrepreneurial growth, there are abundant opportunities for further progress. First, in spite of early stage enthusiasm for entrepreneurship, the Philippines economy also has the highest rate of business discontinuation in the region, at 12.6 percent on average. This rate is higher for women business owners than it is for men. Second, one of the key barriers identified in the APEC and TAF study was the low rate of participation in formal networking associations. A higher proportion of women business owners—34 percent compared with 26 percent of men—reported never having interacted with formal business associations. The TAF study found a correlation between business success and engagement with formal associations or informal networks. In the Philippines, the penetration of informal networks is still limited. Women have a few opportunities to engage other women entrepreneurs at the domestic level, but online network holds the most promise.

The Philippines offers some best practices for the development of female entrepreneurs—in particular through its array of government services, business networks, and private sector initiatives that enhance the contribution of women. 

A few women’s business networks exist in the Philippines that serve and operate across the economy as a whole. The average Filipino woman is likely, however, to benefit most from available provincial or community networks. When and where they are present and active, economy-wide networks in the Philippines are facilitated by social media websites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, or form organically as online forums on entrepreneurship-themed websites.

Two formal networks, both “gender neutral,” provide extensive opportunities for professional networking and opening new markets. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry offers owners of MSMEs access to government decision-makers, local chambers, and other business organizations. The Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc (PHILEXPORT) provides a directory of affiliated industry associations with detailed contact information that enables networking.

Networks that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

No information available. Contact us if you know of a network that fits this criteria.

Networks that support women’s access to markets: 

This website is an online resource for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs which “contains expert business advice and know-how to help each entrepreneur succeed in business.” Company profiles and contact information can be found in the website’s franchise directory,...more

This interactive online community and guide for Filipino women features practical tips, opinions, fashion, and discussions of life and love. It is the online home of several magazines, including one called “Entrepreneur.” The web page...more

Founded in 2006, NEW is a group of women who meet to exchange business ideas, share experiences, and network. The Facebook page has over 3,000 likes. For an annual membership fee of PHP 2,500 (approximately US$56), NEW offers monthly mentoring sessions on specific issues...more

PHILEXPORT is the nonprofit, private umbrella organization of Philippine exporters accredited under the Export Development Act of 1994. Export assistance is delivered through a network of agencies and...more

Networks that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

This local chapter of a LinkedIn professional group called Women in Business (WIB) provides (1) a platform for successful businesswomen to showcase their achievements, (2) role models for younger women, (3) a way for successful women to pass along their experiences and...more

Networks that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

BPW Makati is a local chapter of the International Federation of Business & Professional Women which aims to “develop professional and leadership potential for women at all levels”. BPW Makati’s central leadership advocacy initiative, “Women Stepping Up PH”, is...more

Established in 1997 through government endorsement, then financed through dues and fundraising, this group says its goal is to address “women’s issues in business and discuss policies that could be endorsed to help women in general and through business-focused solutions...more

Networks that support women and innovation and technology: 

The first PLDT Innolab was opened in 2003 to provide a place for PLDT customers to develop innovative products and business solutions using information and communication technologies (ICTs). Customers can use the Innolab to test new products and services, learn through...more

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) are among the most visible types of private organizations serving women entrepreneurs in the Philippines. According to MIX Market, a data hub where MFIs and supporting organizations share institutional data, more than 100 MFIs currently in operation in the Philippines.

Also, among more traditional banking institutions, the Rizal Commercial Banking Corp.  is a strong presence. It provides noncollateral loans for women members of Business & Professional Women Makati chapter (BPW Makati PH) and funds financial literacy training as part of BPW Makati’s “Women Stepping Up PH” initiative.

Nonbank private corporations are generally not vocal in their support of women’s economic empowerment or SME entrepreneurship. Two exceptions are Esquire Financing Inc.’s social business model competition and Coca-Cola Philippines’ partnership with the government for the STAR program to train women owners of small-scale retail outlets and sari-sari stores.

Initiatives that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

ASHI is a nongovernmental microfinance institution (MFI) that seeks to reduce extreme poverty among women and their families through group money lending. They claim to be “the first replicator of the Grameen Bank approach to credit”. Some of their objectives include...more

This nonprofit microfinance institution targets poor entrepreneurial women with their own business or self-made products. Since their founding in 2004, they have helped an increasing number of poor Filipino families rise out of poverty by providing microfinancing to help...more

AVPN is a unique funders network headquartered in Singapore that seeks to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector across the Asia Pacific region. We promote venture philanthropy in the broader philanthropic and social...more

This is Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation’s (RCBC) specially designed program in cooperation with the International Finance Corporation and BPW Makati. It provides noncollateral loans for BPW Makati Members up to PHP 300,000 (approximately US$6,800) for the purpose of...more

EFI is a leading financing company for SMEs. Since 2001 it has served more than 3,000 businesses economy-wide. In 2014, it started the Fueling the Dream competition to “encourage the creativity, passion, and entrepreneurial aspirations of college students.” Teams of...more

This fund will enable MFIs to access wholesale credit fast and at liberal terms for lending to micro-enterprises affected by calamities, so they can rebuild their damaged livelihood to pre-disaster conditions. USAID is providing seed capital of 180 million PHP (...more

This organization, established in 1986, provides access to finance, business and livelihood training, and medical and dental missions for poor women. Project Dungganon provides women with training and collateral-free credit to start or maintain small business ventures....more

PSF is as “a nonstock, nonprofit organization that fully serves as the social outreach arm of the Philippines’ oldest and largest telecommunications conglomerate, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and its wireless subsidiary, Smart Communications, Inc...more

PSBP is a nonprofit organization founded in 1970 by 50 Filipino business leaders to provide a sustainable means for domestic companies to strategically and collectively express their social responsibility. As of January 2015, there were 266 member companies. In 2014...more

CARD MRI provides microfinance and engages in community-based activities to alleviate poverty and otherwise improve the lives of socially and economically challenged women and families. Begun in 1986 as a social development foundation, CARD MRI has since reorganized as a...more

Initiatives that support women’s access to markets: 

ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle is a pioneering green retail store brand. ECHOstore is the first store of its kind in the Philippines to position green, fair trade community products in a premium, specialty market segment. In comparison to other international brands, it...more

This is an initiative by PLDT, the largest telecommunications company in the Philippines, to offer a range of fee-based business solutions for SMEs, accessible through their website. In March 2015, PLDT SME Nation helped launch the...more

Initiatives that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

AVPN is a unique funders network headquartered in Singapore that seeks to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector across the Asia Pacific region. We promote venture philanthropy in the broader philanthropic and social...more

Established in 2012, this nonprofit foundation helps to develop and support a supply value-chain for small producers making artisanal or eco-friendly products. ECHOsi is the nonprofit arm of the ECHOstore Sustainable Lifestyle, a social retail store focused on locally-...more

This is a nonprofit organization advocating entrepreneurship education by partnering with concerned individuals, local groups, government offices, and international organizations to “inspire and educate Filipinos about opportunities in entrepreneurship and to provide...more

Launched in 2011, the S3TAR Program is a partnership between Coca-Cola Philippines and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), an agency of the Department of Labor and Employment. The program aims to empower 100,000 women owners of small-scale...more

In 2014, 367 households were engaged in PBSP’s livelihood activities, 275 people were trained on employable skills, and 2,314 jobs were generated for sustained livelihoods. Since the start of its livelihood programs, PBSP has trained over 6,000 individuals in livelihood...more

SEDPI is a private organization established in 2004 to provide capacity-building services and social investments to microfinance and microenterprise stakeholders. SEDPI offers business management and operations training to established social enterprises and microfinance...more

This NGO aims for improved access to resources and strategic participation in programs that will lead to economically empowered and politically engaged women. SPARK also works toward inclusive policy and practices, gender-responsive financial and political commitments,...more

Established in 1982, FPTI develops approaches to informal and formal education for women, manages training centers offering technical-vocational programs that enhance employment opportunities, conducts programs among trainers and volunteers that strengthen institutional...more

This is a microenterprise development program by Hapinoy, a social enterprise that seeks to empower Nanays, who are mothers and women who run sari-sari neighborhood retail shops. Since its start in 2007, the program has trained 3,000 Nanay micro-entrepreneurs. The...more

This program, geared toward “creating a culture of ambitious, enterprising women,” was developed by the LET’S GO Foundation with support by the GE Money Bank. WE launched its teaching program in pilot schools in early 2008, with plans to expand in schools across the...more

Initiatives that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

Go Negosyo is the advocacy arm of the PCE, a nonprofit organization that encourages Filipinos to engage in entrepreneurship. Through its various programs, Go Negosyo hopes to demystify entrepreneurial success and popularize entrepreneurship as an alternative to...more

The SERDEF was founded in 1976 as a resource hub for Philippine SMEs which complements the work of its partner organization, the University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UP ISSI). SERDEF’s goals are to sponsor and conduct research, training,...more

Initiatives that support women and innovation and technology: 

This program, which started in 2013, focuses on health, entrepreneurship and digital literacy. It is co-implemented by the Philippines Community e-Centers Network (PhilCeCNet) and the University of the Philippines Open University, which leads the curriculum development...more

This initiative was founded in August 2011 as an initiative of the Philippine Software Industry Association (PSIA). It aims to be the software industry's platform to nurture, encourage, educate, and support the needs of Filipino software startups. SPRING.ph's goal is...more

The current administration of the Republic of the Philippines, under His Excellency Benigno Aquino III, has been an avid supporter of MSMEs and women’s economic empowerment. The Philippine Commission on Women was established in 1975 to serve as a government agency whose sole purpose is to promote and protect women’s rights and advancement.

Government agencies in the Philippines offer a range of services. These include provision of shared facilities and equipment, direct lending through government finance institutions, and direct support to exporters. The government also seeks to help exporters understand free trade agreements and their potential impact. These efforts extend to the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community. Many government services are directed toward MSMEs in general, as a coordinated set of activitites to mitigate and reverse poverty. Additionally, several important economic policies and initiatives are specifically focused on women. One example is the 2011–2016 MSME Development Plan, which includes gender mainstreaming among its four key themes.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) takes on multiple roles and influences. The department has a network of provincial offices where women can register their businesses and access business training, support for product development, and promotion and networking opportunities. 

Services that support women’s access to capital and assets: 

In 2015, the Development Bank of the Philippines launched a loan targeted at women entrepreneurs, called the Inclusive Lending for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs (ILAW). The Development Bank worked with the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines (...more

The SSF Project is a major component of DTI’s MSME Development Program and aims to improve the competitiveness of MSMEs by providing them with machinery, equipment, tools, systems, skills and knowledge under a shared system. The project is being implemented economy-wide...more

The SB Corp. is a government corporation under the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. Its primary responsibility is to implement comprehensive policies and programs to assist MSMEs, such as financing and information services, training and...more

Services that support women’s access to markets: 

This program is jointly implemented by different government financial institutions (GFIs) in support of the government’s SME Development Plan. ASENSO adopts a unified procedure and terms and conditions in lending to SMEs. Short-term (one year) and long term (maximum of...more

Services that support strengthened capacity and skills for women in business: 

The DOLE is mandated to formulate and implement policies and programs in the field of labor and employment. In 2013, the DOLE had a total budget of PHP 8.083 billion (approximately US$183 million), and operated in 16 regional offices, 83 field offices, and 28 overseas...more

This advocacy project, sponsored by the Philippine Franchise Association (PFA) and the U.S. Embassy in Manila, aims at helping women entrepreneurs expand their business through franchising. The project has hosted a...more

PCW is the lead executing agency for a six-year (2014­–2020), US$6 million bilateral partnership with the government of Canada to support women’s economic empowerment. The project will continue the previous GREAT Women project that aimed to promote and support a gender-...more

The centers in each province provide a unified and simplified business registration process to make doing business easier and to fast track government processes. The first center opened in Cagayan de Oro in November 2014, the second in Iloilo City in February 2015. The...more

This training center was established in 1987 as a subagency of the Department of Trade and Industry to meet the needs of the trade sector for capacity-building. Courses are offered in Business start-up and management, ISO, general quality and productivity, food,...more

This program, housed in the DTI Export Marketing Bureau (EMB), is a partnership between DTI and the Export Pathways Program (EPP). It supports potential exporters enrolled under the EPP through capacity-building and direct interventions (e.g. assistance with product...more

SME Roving Academy by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Launched in June 2013, this is a continuous learning program for MSMEs to become competitive domestically and...more

The FDA has been collaborating with the Department of Trade and Industry to support microenterprises and SMEs engaged in food processing, an industry which employs many women. Participants are trained in food safety, proper licensing of establishments and registration of...more

Services that support women’s leadership, voice and agency: 

The PCW is the government’s National Machinery for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, which champions women’s empowerment and gender equality. The PCW conducts a number of activities, including the preparation of economy-wide development plans for women (such as...more

The TWC seeks to advance the economic status of women through training, entrepreneurship development, gender-sensitive policies, programs, and projects, and research and advocacy. It was established through a grant from the government of Japan. TWC houses the Sari-Sari...more

Services that support women and innovation and technology: 

PTTC offers ten ICT-based training courses. The first course to be introduced was Basic and Advanced Microsoft Office Seminars in 2008 and the newest course on social media marketing was launched in 2014. PTTC offers other courses on webpage development, Facebook...more