UP ISSI Staff attends APO Workshop on Productivity Enhancement for Women Entrepreneurs

ISSI’s Cabotaje presents a paper in Singapore 

Ms. Melanie V. Cabotaje, a University Extension Specialist at the Research Division of the UP ISSI, attended the Workshop on Productivity Enhancement for Women Entrepreneurs conducted by the Asian Productivity Organization (APO) and Singapore Productivity Center (SPC) on August 14 to 17, 2023 at Aqueen Hotel, Paya Lebar, Singapore.

The workshop focused on the following topics: profile of women entrepreneurs in APO-member countries; main challenges hindering women’s entrepreneurship; impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the productivity of businesses owned by women; and effective policies and schemes to support women entrepreneurs in enhancing productivity and sustaining business growth.

Ms. Cabotaje, together with Ms. Joenna T. Tattao of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), presented a paper on women’s entrepreneurship in the Philippines. They gave a quick profile of women entrepreneurs in the country and discussed the main challenges they face. They also enumerated the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on women entrepreneurs and the response of the Philippine government. Ms. Cabotaje and Ms. Tattao also identified some of the major policies and programs in the Philippines that support and promote women’s entrepreneurship. They also maximized this opportunity to highlight the initiatives of their own organizations. Ms. Cabotaje talked about the Community of Practice for Entrepreneurship (COPE), an advocacy program of the UP ISSI that brings entrepreneurship education to the marginalized sectors. Ms. Cabotaje emphasized how the COPE Program benefits women micro-entrepreneurs, particularly those in the informal economy, in terms of capacity building, mentoring, and networking.  

Apart from attending lectures and giving presentations, Ms. Cabotaje and her fellow workshop participants also visited an enterprise owned by a woman entrepreneur. They visited a branch of Soup Spoon, a restaurant that prides itself on offering healthy bowls of soup and pastries (note: no preservatives and no MSG added!). They also had the opportunity to meet Ms. Ms. Anna Lim – the woman behind this successful restaurant. Ms. Lim shared her entrepreneurial journey – from establishing the first outlet of Soup Spoon restaurant in 2002, opening new branches, deciding to close some, surviving SARS and COVID-19 pandemic to opening its 29th outlet – along with the lessons and realizations through the two decades of running the enterprise.  

On the last day of the workshop, Ms. Cabotaje and her fellow participants presented their action plans upon returning to their home countries. Ms. Cabotaje and Ms. Tattao discussed a possible collaboration between the UP ISSI and TESDA as part of their action plan.

The four-day workshop was premised on the significant gender gap in the scale and nature of entrepreneurship, which was highlighted and was further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The workshop aimed to promote the productivity of women entrepreneurs, foster a gender-sensitive entrepreneurship regulatory environment, and strengthen women’s entrepreneurship policies and support schemes.

The workshop had 19 participants coming from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Turkiye.

The APO is an intergovernmental organization established in 1961 to increase productivity and sustainable socioeconomic development in the Asia-Pacific region through policy advisory services, acting as a think tank, and undertaking smart initiatives in the industry, agriculture, service, and public sectors. The APO is comprised of 21 economies, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Republic of China, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkiye, and Vietnam.

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