Opening address at the launch of the Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19 in the Philippines

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the launch of the Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19 in the Philippines, 27 May 2021, Manila, Philippines via Zoom

Statement | Manila, Philippines | 27 May 2021
  • Mr Carlos Mendoza, Senior Country Officer, J.P. Morgan Philippines,
  • Undersecretary Blesilda Lantayona, Department of Trade and Industry,
  • Mr Sergio Ortiz-Luis, President, Employers Confederation of the Philippines,
  • Ms Clarine Tobias, ECOP Chair of the Chapters Consultative Council & President, Employers Confederation of the Philippines – Bicol,
  • Professor Maria Luisa Gatchalian, Project Director, CHED COE Miriam College – Capacity Building Program for Entrepreneurship Education,
  • Director Maria Lourdes Arcenas, Development Bank of the Philippines
  • Ms Jeannie Javelosa, Philippine Women Economic Network (PHILWEN)/GREAT Women President,
  • Ms Sara Andersson, ILO Rebuilding Better Project,
  • Partners at government agencies, colleagues at the ILO, leaders of Women Organizations, women entrepreneurs,
  • Ladies and gentlemen, magandang umaga po (good morning)!
A very warm welcome!

The ILO is happy to launch the Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19 project in the Philippines.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank J.P. Morgan for the continued collaboration and support to the ILO Country Office for the Philippines.

We have previously partnered under the Women in STEM programme, and now we will also provide support to women entrepreneurs for the Rebuilding Better Programme.

This new project comes at an opportune time when the country is coping with challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the last few months, we have seen its huge impact on enterprises, which caused job losses and even closures of businesses.

In Southeast Asia, women-owned businesses often lag behind male-owned businesses in terms of size, productivity and profitability.

The proportion of formal businesses with female majority ownership in project countries ranges from 10.4 per cent in Malaysia, 31.5 per cent in the Philippines to 33.4 per cent in Thailand.

Women entrepreneurs, however, tend to operate in most disadvantaged sectors or in the lower ends of value chains where they concentrate on a limited number of activities with little opportunity for value-add and business growth.

For women-owned enterprises, women business owners struggle in juggling between exploring new ways of doing business and added care responsibilities with families working and studying at home. These circumstances have made things all the more difficult for women entrepreneurs who have already had to face disadvantages and limited opportunities even before the pandemic.

As women entrepreneurs in general are less resilient to the impact of adverse economic shocks, ensuring their access to critical support services will be important to build back better and recover from COVID-19.

Given the important contribution of women-owned businesses to the Philippine economy, it is essential that we recognize specific challenges of women entrepreneurs and work together for a more equitable, gender-responsive and inclusive recovery here in the Philippines.

The new Rebuilding Better project will provide support to women-owned small enterprises affected by the crisis. Working with local partners in targeted countries, leveraging ICT solutions and innovative approaches, in the Philippines, the project will help 300 women entrepreneurs in NCR and Cebu, to access support in the areas of training, finance as well as markets and networks.

Supporting them with access to critical support services will be important for business stabilization and recovery, which will also help build business resilience for the future.

Enabling women entrepreneurs’ meaningful participation in gender-sensitive entrepreneurship ecosystems has proven multiplier effects on decent work, poverty eradication and economic growth.

Supporting women entrepreneurs is therefore vital towards inclusive, resilient and sustainable development in the countries targeted by the project.

This project is in line with the Decent Work Country Programme of the Philippines, specifically the need for an enhanced enabling environment, with better-informed, more responsive policies, programmes and institutions for sustainable and resilient enterprises in the entire value/supply chain, particularly for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

I look forward to hearing resilience stories of our women enterprises today and our panel of experts and stakeholders.

We are interested to listen to your views, voices and insights on how can we work together in building the resilience of women entrepreneurs and strengthening the ecosystem that supports enterprises.

With your institutional support and collaboration, we can all contribute towards rebuilding back better.

Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!