WE MEET: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs Through Collaboration

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On March 21, 2024, a remarkable event titled “WE MEET” took place, co-organized by a powerhouse of organizations: Quest Ventures, Gender Lens & Impact Investment Council (GLIIC), Sasakawa Peace Foundation, Nushu Network, and Villgro Philippines. This impactful gathering brought together women entrepreneurs, investors, and Ecosystem Support Organizations (ESOs) with a singular mission: to bridge the gap in financing for women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines.

The event served a critical purpose – to illuminate the landscape of women entrepreneurs in the Philippines. It aimed to understand not only their triumphs but also the challenges they face in securing funding for their ventures.

Challenges Faced by Women Entrepreneurs

The discussions at WE MEET revealed a common thread among women entrepreneurs. Many are forced to rely on self-financing or seek capital support from friends and family. This highlights the difficulty they face in accessing traditional bank loans due to perceived strict requirements.

Furthermore, a significant portion of women entrepreneurs believe they don’t fit the mold often sought by investors. A lack of foreign education or influential family connections can lead to a perception of limited potential for success and growth, hindering their ability to secure funding.

Investor Challenges – The Other Side of the Coin

Investors also face their own set of obstacles when it comes to finding promising women-led businesses. Low visibility of these ventures is a major hurdle. Many high-potential female-run SMEs operate under the radar, accessible only through word-of-mouth networks. Additionally, a mismatch often exists between the existing financial products offered and the specific needs of women entrepreneurs.

Finally, a lack of readily available data and success stories showcasing the achievements of women entrepreneurs across diverse sectors makes it difficult for investors to assess their true potential.

The Path Forward: Collaboration is Key

The WE MEET event served as a springboard for charting a course of action for both women entrepreneurs and investors. The resounding message for entrepreneurs was to actively build networks, seek out supportive peer groups, and participate in programs focused on investment readiness. Building financial literacy was also emphasized as a crucial step towards securing funding.

The event wasn’t just about identifying challenges; it was also a space for women entrepreneurs to share their experiences and the unique challenges they face in securing investments. They offered each other encouragement, emphasizing the importance of self-belief and resilience. The message was clear: collaboration, not competition, is the key to success. Gender should not be a barrier; it should be a source of strength in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Moving Forward Together

WE MEET stands as a testament to the power of collaboration in fostering a more inclusive and equitable investment landscape in the Philippines. By bringing together key stakeholders – women entrepreneurs, investors, and ESOs – the event fostered a valuable exchange of ideas and experiences.

The road ahead requires continued effort from all parties involved. Investors need to actively seek out promising women-led ventures and develop financial products that cater to their specific needs. ESOs can play a vital role in supporting women entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, training programs, and access to networks.

Most importantly, women entrepreneurs themselves must continue to build their networks, hone their skills, and confidently pursue their ventures. By working together, we can create an environment where women entrepreneurs in the Philippines have the resources and support they need to thrive.

Beyond WE MEET: A Call to Action

The success of WE MEET highlights the need for ongoing initiatives that empower women entrepreneurs. Here are some key takeaways that can serve as a call to action:

  • Investors: Look beyond traditional pipelines and actively seek out women-led ventures. Consider developing investment products tailored to the specific needs of female entrepreneurs.
  • ESOs: Expand your reach to include women-led businesses. Offer mentorship, training programs focused on investment readiness, and connect them with valuable networks.
  • Women Entrepreneurs: Network actively, seek out support groups and programs, and build your financial literacy. Don’t be afraid to showcase your ventures and the unique value you bring to the market.

By embracing collaboration and fostering a more inclusive ecosystem, we can unlock the immense potential of women entrepreneurs in the Philippines. WE MEET served as a catalyst for change; let’s continue the momentum and empower women to lead the way towards a brighter future.

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