Every business in almost every industry, both big and small, has been greatly affected by the current health crisis. While the new normal setup has allowed operations to return at some capacity, providing some relief to business owners and employees, women entrepreneurs are faced with a dilemma as they are expected to take on multiple roles — boss, mom, sister, daughter, etc. — at the same time. Even without all of that, women entrepreneurs are already facing unique challenges and biases in different fields. So, how can they find success in this situation?
To aid women entrepreneurs in their quest for success, SM recently organized a free webinar called ''Women at Work'' on March 11 and 12, 2021.
The two-day event is the first webinar to take a complete and holistic approach to a very real problem: ''How can I start a business and grow my brand in the middle of a pandemic?''
Lending their knowledge and expertise is a panel comprised of entrepreneurs and experts from multiple sectors of society such as finance, retail, government, and NGOs.
Tips, trends, and inspiring stories
One of the things the speakers talked about is the importance of self-mastery, a skill that many entrepreneurs feel is important to learn in these uncertain economic times.
''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, a life coach and SM Supermall's AVP for Leasing Strategy & Operations. She also gave tips on how to own your power, find calm, and create a roadmap for success.
Gina Romero, co-founder of Connected Women, reminded entrepreneurs that the world's biggest businesses had humble or challenging beginnings. She shared how to get the help you need—technology, partners, community—to overcome obstacles.
Entrepreneurs like Jammy San Juan of Frankie and Friends General Store and Felicia Atienza of the Chinese International School talked about how to survive and even thrive in a changing landscape. These included pivoting your marketing, building a strong financial foundation, and understanding your customer.
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.
Meanwhile, The SM Store Senior Vice President Aldwin Co discussed growing consumer categories and how to sell to the new online shopper. He illustrated this approach by talking about what SM has done like the digital catalogs, Click and Collect, Call to Deliver, Shop SM, and a lot more.
Funds and tools for aspiring entrepreneurs
For small entrepreneurs who need capital to start or grow their business Karen Cua, the Senior President and Group Head of BDO Network Bank's MSME (micro, small, and medium enterprises) division, discussed how to get a loan even without collateral.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona shared some free resources that entrepreneurs can get from their local DTI office – from roving academies to shared service facilities like processing equipment.
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 the economy. A diverse workforce drives innovation and market growth and builds trust and credibility with employees and stakeholders,'' said Mesina.
Mesina adds that women need support. Not just through promotions or financing for business, but help with the roles they are expected to fulfil at home. Ideally, they should not feel pressured to ''do it all'' or have to give up one for the other. Families, communities, and companies can all do their part to ease the burden, share the responsibility, and create a work-life balance.
''Women at Work'' is a joint effort by SM and its advocacy partners, UN Women, Department of Trade and Industries, Philippine Commission on Women, 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 have worked closely with small businesses. Today, SM is a community of 90,000 SMEs – from farming to artisan communities, local manufacturers to shop owners, and food kiosks to restaurant owners,'' said The SM Store President Chelo Monasterio in the webinar's opening keynote address.
''While we made a lot of progress in the past years in supporting women and SMEs, the pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges. The SM for SMEs learning series hopes to help our partner tenants, suppliers, and other entrepreneurs navigate and find opportunities amidst these challenges,'' she added.
Furthermore, SM Retail President Chito Manalo shared that the event is part of the company's commitment to empowering Filipina entrepreneurs. ''We are grateful our business is in a unique position to provide livelihood and growth opportunities for women.''
The webinar was moderated by award-winning journalist and women's advocate Karen Davila, and vlogger and entrepreneur Mica Davila.
For more information about SM events, news, and advocacies, visit its website.
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