MANILA, Philippines – The coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately and negatively affected women entrepreneurs in the Philippines, and has highlighted the need to arm them with digital knowledge and access to finance in order to survive.
A report prepared by International Finance Corp. (IFC), a sister organization to the World Bank, in collaboration with online sales platform Lazada, said sales of women’s businesses in the Philippines fell 27% in 2020 after the difficult times caused by the economic recession induced by the pandemic.
Two-thirds of the Philippine market vendors of the app were women, who last year ventured to sell online because they lost their jobs in offices due to financial difficulties or were forced to find ways of increasing family income in reduction.
The report said that in 2019 women were outnumbering men in terms of gross commodity value (GMV). However, the average GMV of female companies fell from 106 percent of male companies before the pandemic to 79 percent of people during the pandemic.
“The decrease in the average GMV of women compared to men in the Philippines was an increase in evidence showing how COVID-19 has negatively affected women entrepreneurs. Given the relatively high proportion of micro-enterprises that own active women in Lazada Philippines, it is clear that supporting women-owned companies to regain parity or overcome male GMV is crucial to the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines, ”IFC said.
She added that women-led online businesses in the Philippines could better compete and balance the playing field if they have the skills needed for digital selling and access to credit.
However, 61 percent of women in the Philippines do not yet have a bank account and were not part of the formal economy, the IFC said. As such, they could not qualify, for example, for government-granted loans and grants to registered companies.
“It is important to expand financial services to women through agent banking, mobile banking, e-currency and fintech services that expand the scope of the financial system to provide women with greater access to the digital economy” , said the IFC.
Most Filipino entrepreneurs relied on their personal savings to start their own businesses, according to the IFC report. But once the pockets were emptied, women-owned companies in the Philippines unfortunately resorted to loans from informal lenders such as loan sharks.
The only highlight of the IFC report was that women entrepreneurs in Lazada in the Philippines have obtained insurance coverage more often than men.
“These above-average findings from women-owned companies may indicate that women selling on e-commerce platforms are more financially sophisticated than the market in general,” the IFC noted.
He said equipping Filipino women with digital tools and skills would allow them to capture a sizable chunk of the booming e-commerce sector over the next five to ten years.
Filipino businessmen may be in a better position than men. “Women with families can run their shops and take care of their children. That’s a big advantage for someone like a young mother who doesn’t just have the mobility to work away from home full time, ”said Abigail Chen, founder of start-ups Homie.ph and MyBento.co, of the IFC.
IFC projected that the Southeast Asian e-commerce market could grow by more than $ 280 billion between 2025 and 2030 by increasing the number of women selling on online platforms and providing them with better training and financial support. .
Lazada Philippines chief executive Ray Alimurung said e-commerce penetration was still quite low in the Philippines and there was more than enough room for healthy competition.
He said it was the growth of the digital economy that would help grow the platforms operating within the Lazada app, similar to the popular saying that “a rising tide will lift all ships.”
IFC said that while the Internet economy in the Philippines accounted for only 2.1% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, it was projected to grow by 30% annually and reach $ 28 billion. in 2025.
However, the sector faces many obstacles. “Philippine vendors operate in a difficult environment for delivery logistics, transporting packages across a vast archipelago of scattered islands. In addition, most e-commerce and Internet use are concentrated in urban regions, which exacerbates the rural-urban gap, ”according to the IFC.
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