On Women’s Month, help raise up and embrace women-owned businesses 1

On Women’s Month, help raise up and embrace women-owned businesses

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Mar 13 2023 01:10 PM

In my many years of reviewing requests for funding from non-profits, one of the common threads is empowering women. The request can come in the form of training them for livelihood opportunities, scholarships for higher education, providing microloans for micro businesses, even to strengthening the institutions that support them.

No doubt these are all noble objectives that have helped pave the way for many women to improve their lives, their families, and their communities. But this chain was limited in impact because they were lending hand to each other. It’s like preaching to a choir. What was needed then, and even now, is to enlarge this circle of support, and invite outsiders to come in and embrace women-driven programs and women-owned businesses.

You may think this is only meaningful for women, but even men have mothers, sisters and daughters. If it takes a whole village to raise a child, then it takes a global community to embrace equality and equity.

Here are some compelling reasons for you to embrace this too and act now.

#1 Women need women

One of the reasons for the success of many microfinance models is when women come together to support each other. Life is hard and poverty can make it 100 percent harder (maybe more). Women need other women to be their sounding board to get through personal struggles, and it helps if they can all relate to the same situations. With the increasing spotlight on mental health, every positive action you take can make a world of difference to someone, and to her circle.

#2 Women help their own

When you extend help to a woman entrepreneur, you are also extending help to her circle which can become her employees, or business partners. I’ve seen this story unfold with many award-winning women micro business owners. When their businesses pick up, they hire women from their community. Not only are they given a new source of income, they also receive skills training that can help them set up their own micro business in the future. 

#3 Women invest in their families

When polled, almost 99 percent of women microentrepreneurs will tell you that their income goes to providing for family needs. They make sure their families’ basic necessities are met: there is food on the table, a roof over their heads, the children are in school, and there is savings for a rainy day. And this is true not just for their immediate family, but also extended family that can include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and more. For the women who broke through the barriers of poverty, they are proudest not of their business success, but when their children graduate from college and become professionals.

#4 Women are natural-born innovators

When I need to figure out a solution to a problem, I find that talking to another woman or several, open up a new way of thinking. Their modern-day hacks make life easier or simpler, or both. And for women who boldly harness their innovation into business models, I cannot help but applaud from the sidelines and support them in any way I can. One name that comes to mind is Brynn Putnam, who created a fitness mirror when she was pregnant. The former ballerina’s marketing genius has earned her hundreds of millions of dollars, and her business is one of the rare few that was actually helped by the pandemic-caused lockdowns. 

#5 Women think long-term

Of course, we all want short-term success and easy money, but women business owners like to plan long-term. When they make money, they prioritize reinvesting in their business, and prefer sustainable growth over bold expansion plans. As a result, they may not grow as fast, but their steady success sure wins the race.

My favorite case study for this is Filipino Australian Melanie Perkins, Australia's youngest billionaire and third richest woman, thanks to her graphic design business Canva. The idea for her business came to her when she was 19, but it took her a few more years before she started her free-to-use, online design platform. She was competing with Microsoft and Adobe, whose services all come with a fee, and costly too.

She wanted to make design accessible to all — be it for logos, business cards or presentations, but won’t charge users. A business model like that is enough to make investors go running in another direction, but with Canva now valued at over $26 billion, we know who’s laughing her way to the bank.

The story of Melanie may be rare, but you can make helping women a common action by doing it as frequently as you can. You never know if you are helping a Melanie or a mother raise one.


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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.