The Philippines has made progress in promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, but much work remains to be done.
While more women are able to pay for major purchases and women-owned micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are on the rise, they continue to face significant challenges in accessing financing, technologies, and markets that will allow them to invest in and venture into entrepreneurship.
At the CNN Philippines’ #EmbraceEquity Women’s Summit, BDO Vice President and Head of Sustainability Marla Garin-Alvarez shared insights on how women consumers and entrepreneurs drive the growth of MSMEs in the Philippines. She shared that 48% of BDO’s auto loans and home loans are by women clients, yet vehicles and homes are often marketed primarily to men. She highlighted that a majority of BDO’s MSME clients are women-owned, with women accounting for 66% of their total client base.
“We need to ensure that women are able to explore opportunities for them to contribute to the economy. We are proud that we support women as consumers and as entrepreneurs through products and services offered by BDO,” Garin-Alvarez said.
Garin-Alvarez explained that while women are represented in the workforce and leadership, there is still a gap in women’s wealth accumulation. Women need both financial services and non-financial services such as financial literacy in banking, investments, inheritance, and property ownership to help them build wealth.
Garin-Alvarez also added that from BDO’s experience, women entrepreneurs have a better repayment history. She emphasized that providing adequate support to women entrepreneurs is crucial to encourage more of them to venture into entrepreneurship that brings growth to the economy.
Greater collaboration between the government, financial institutions, and the private sector should be established to create a more enabling environment for women consumers and entrepreneurs. This includes providing access to finance, mentoring, training, and networking opportunities that will help women consumers be more financially independent and women entrepreneurs to start or to scale their businesses.
PHOTO: Miyu Lavarro manages the day-to-day operations of Jabella Café. It was through BDO Network Bank’s Kabuhayan Loan that Jabella Café was able to restart after its shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.