Women Power In Asean, Activate

By Annelle Tayao-Juego
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila / Asia News Network

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A program which started in the Philippines to help female entrepreneurs move up the market value chain, is now making waves across Southeast Asia.

Philippine Daily Inquirer, Manila / Asia News Network

The Philippines’ “great women” are taking on Southeast Asia.

After the four-day Asean Women’s Business Conference held in August, the country’s Great Women (GW) Project, which started out as a public-private partnership program to help small and micro enterprises led by women go up the market value chain, is now making waves across Asean’s other nine member-countries.

It’s all thanks to two women who have been tirelessly working on the project since it started five years ago: Jeannie Javelosa and Chit Juan of the Echosi Foundation, the program’s private sector partner.

“With support of the development initiatives, we who lead GW, along with other Asean women entrepreneurs, figured [the program], is the easiest way to integrate women-owned enterprises. We are able to sell to each other and sell across borders,” says Javelosa.

Inspired by GW’s inclusive business model, other Asean member countries are now replicating the platform according to the needs of women in their respective homelands.

Myanmar’s Ma Khine Zaw, CEO of Earth Group of Trading, is putting up a GW Showroom and Cafe–like the one on A. Arnaiz Avenue in Makati City–in Yangon, with help of the country’s Social Ministry.

The Earth Group is the same company which brought clothing brand Penshoppe to Myanmar.

The recent GW trade showcase, which was held alongside the Asean Women’s Business Conference, also showed the strong potential of the region’s coffee and tea industries for the platform.

“For coffee, we are able to trade with each other to make Asean blends–coffee from Laos and Philippines will be sold in state-of-the-art coffee capsules labelled IWCA (International Women’s Coffee Alliance) by Sinouk Coffee’s Serina Hervy-Sisombat of Vientiane and Pakse, Laos, the Woman Entrepreneur Awardee at the Asean Business Awards held in September,” says Juan.

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