Webinar empowers women entrepreneurs

The recently concluded two-day free webinar SM hosted for women entrepreneurs offered a holistic approach to addressing issues regarding managing a business amid a pandemic. 

The “Women at Work” webinar on March 11-12 featured a panel composed of successful entrepreneurs and experts from finance and retail sectors as well as government and NGOs.

Tips and trends

Connected Women co-founder Gina Romero encourages women entrepreneurs to get the help they need to overcome obstacles.
“You have to take ownership of your life. Who do you want to be, where do you want to be, and what choices can you make to move forward?” said Gina Katigbak, life coach and SM Supermall’s assistant vice president of leasing strategy and operations, as she gave tips on how to own your power, find calm, and create a roadmap for success.

Gina Romero, co-founder of Connected Women shared how to get the help one needs—technology, partners, community—to overcome obstacles.

Successful entrepreneurs like Jamm San Juan of Frankie and Friends General Store and Felicia Atienza of the Chinese International School Manila talked about surviving and thriving in a changing landscape. Their message focused on pivoting marketing, building a strong financial foundation, understanding customers, and more. 

Felicia Hung-Atienza, president and chief executive of the Chinese International School Manila
SM’s top executives also shared important retail industry trends. SM Supermalls vice president Gino Borromeo talked about new shopping behaviors and the rise of the “new essentials” or what people are willing to buy. The SM Store senior vice president Aldwin Co, meanwhile, shared consumer categories that are growing, and how to sell to the new online shopper.  

Funds and tools

For small entrepreneurs who need capital to start or grow their business, Karen Cua—the senior vice president and group head of BDO Network Bank’s MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) division—talked about the financial tools available for them. 

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) undersecretary Blesila Lantayona also shared some free resources that women entrepreneurs can access from their local DTI office, including roving academies and shared service facilities like processing equipment.

Karen Cua, senior vice president and group head of BDO Network Bank's MSME division
Philippine Commission of Women (PCW) chairperson Sandra Montano, and WeEmpowerAsia country programme manager Rosalyn Mesina also graced the event, and talked about how companies and communities can work together to support women entrepreneurs.

“Women empowerment benefits women, business, and economy. A diverse workforce drives innovation and market growth, and builds trust and credibility with employees and stakeholders,” said  Mesina. 

Mesina added the importance of providing women support—not just through promotions or financing for business, but help with the roles they’re expected to fulfill at home. Ideally, they should not feel pressured to “do it all” or have to give up one for the other. According to her, families, communities, and companies can all do their part to ease the burden, share the responsibility, and create work-life balance.  

Community-wide support 

Chelo Monasterio, president of The SM Store
The webinar was a joint effort by SM and its advocacy partners: UN Women, DTI, PCW, Connected Women, and BDO Network Bank.

“SM’s affinity to SMEs comes naturally. SM started as a small shoe store in downtown Manila. We are an SME by heart, and since SM started, we’ve worked closely with small businesses. Today, SM is a community of 90,000 SMEs, from farming to artisan communities, from local manufacturers to shop owners, from food kiosks to restaurant owners,” said Chelo Monasterio, president of The SM Store.

Topics: SM webinar , Women at Work , women entrepreneurs

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