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Advancing the Growth of Women-Led SMEs in the Philippines: A Gender Lens in Policy & Investment

News Press Releases /19 May 2022

Manila, Philippines – On May 17, the Philippines investor and public policy community held an event to explore how a gender lens in policy and investment can advance the growth of women-led SMEs and bolster the Philippine economy.

Investing in Women (an initiative of the Australian Government) and AVPN (a pan-Asian network for impact investors) co-hosted this important event to facilitate evidence-based reflection on which solutions worked best in supporting women-led SMEs during the pandemic.

Over 50 eminent investors and policy leaders gathered in-person, and 30 leaders across Southeast Asia and the globe joined online. This event is the second in a series on this theme, covering three markets: Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia.

This hybrid event discussed the Philippines findings of the report “Gendered Impacts of MSME Policy Responses to COVID-19 in Southeast Asia” produced by Monash University in Australia and their local research partner, the Philippine Institute for Development Studies. The report takes stock of economic relief measures to foster SME resilience to COVID-19 and analyses the extent to which women have been involved as beneficiaries or in decision making; and the extent to which responses have met the needs of women’s SMEs. The study is intended to assist policymakers and donor agencies understand the best solutions for assisting women’s SMEs through the recovery response to COVID-19.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Steven J. Robinson AO launched the report. He emphasised the relevance of the event, saying “the pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities and set women-led SMEs further back. Taking steps to provide women-led businesses with access to resources such as capital, technology, and market information, will boost their economic output and deliver economic security for millions of women.”

In addition, this event showcased the best practices and collaborations of investors, foundations, and accelerators in advancing women’s SMEs in the Philippines. A panel discussion featuring three expert speakers also explored how incorporating gender considerations into investment processes, leveraging the intersection of gender and other key themes such as climate, and developing tailored incubation programs can improve access to finance for women-led SMEs, creating greater financial and social returns in the country.

The event also showcased participants of one such program to support female founders. WE Rise x SheDisrupts Philippines 2022 is a program combining mentorship, venture competition, pre-acceleration and a demo day for social and environmental enterprises in pursuit of achieving maximum impact for women economic empowerment in the Philippines. Five women entrepreneurs from this program attended the event to share their work and experience.

“Supporting the growth of women-led SMEs will in turn accelerate economic recovery and growth in the Philippines, ” said Arnil Paras, Philippine Country Director at AVPN. “To this end, it is important to streamline data collection and identify key indicators for impact measurement that could better inform a gender lens in the design of policy responses and financial products. We look forward to contributing to the development of a gender-responsive culture in policy and finance.”


About Investing in Women

Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian Government, catalyses inclusive economic growth through women’s economic empowerment in South East Asia.  Investing in Women uses innovative approaches to improve women’s economic participation as employees and as entrepreneurs in the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Myanmar through:

  • Workplace Gender Equality (WGE) – We support Business Coalitions who work with influential businesses on shifting workplace cultures, practices, and policy barriers to achieve WGE.
  • Impact Investment for Women’s SMEs – We partner with Impact Investors and ecosystem builders to expand market opportunities for women, with a view to incentivizing and catalyzing access to capital for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – led by and responsive to the needs of women; and
  • Influencing Gender Norms – We work with partners to positively shift attitudes and practices to support women in the world of work. In collaboration with corporations and business leaders, impact investors, entrepreneurs and advocates, we are working with those who are driving change for women’s economic equality in our region.

For more information, visit,

About AVPN

With over 600 members covering 33 countries, AVPN is Asia’s largest social investor network moving capital towards impact in Asia. We are committed to building a vibrant and high impact social investment community across Asia. AVPN is an advocate, capacity builder, and platform that cuts across private, public, and social sectors embracing all types of engagement to improve the effectiveness of members across the Asia Pacific region. AVPN’s mission is to catalyse a more strategic, collaborative, and outcome focused approach to philanthropy and social investing. To achieve this, we aim to increase the flow of financial, human and intellectual capital to the social sector, and ensure that capital is deployed as effectively as possible. For more information visit,

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