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Why investing in women is good business

News Stories /09 December 2022

The Philippines boasts a thriving sector for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with women playing a significant role. About 60% of SMEs in the country are led or owned by women, fostering a dynamic landscape for gender lens investing in the country. According to the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), 62% of new businesses registered were women-owned in 2020. A higher proportion of female entrepreneurs have participated in DTI’s training and development programs.

Research by Investing in Women (IW) and Value for Women also found that the Philippines has the second-most developed gender lens investment ecosystem in the region. However, there is still inadequate awareness of why investing in women-led enterprises can lead to good returns.

To raise awareness of the business cases of investing in women, the Manila Angel Investors Network (MAIN) held a panel discussion entitled The Bottom Line: Why Investing in Women is Good Business. Held on 9 November 2022 in Metro Manila, the event discussed ways of tackling what it means to invest for financial return while considering the benefits of gender outcomes.

Moderated by Jose Paolo Delgado, President and CEO of Delbros Group, the event featured Dr Julia Newton-Howes, CEO, Investing in Women; Michael McCullough, Founder and Managing Director, KMC Group; Julia Abad Santos, Executive Director, Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment (PBCWE); and Tina Di Cicco, Chairperson, MAIN Gender Lens Investing Committee.

During the discussion, the speakers tackled a number of benefits of investing in women and having diverse teams. These advantages include:

  • Women-led startups tend to employ more women, creating a more diverse and robust team that can proportionately target and benefit from a broader target market.
  • Increased diversity in the workplace helps increase an organisation’s innovation, boosts employee morale as well as motivates them to work more effectively and efficiently leading to a healthier and more productive environment.
  • Gender-balanced teams also boost business metrics including employee engagement, brand awareness and client retention.

But despite all of these clear benefits, women entrepreneurs still face difficulties in accessing capital and networks to grow their businesses due to cultural barriers and structural gender gaps prevalent across the Philippines and elsewhere around the world.

For instance, women are still expected to perform the majority of unpaid household work, limiting the time they have to focus on their businesses. Women spend an average of 24 hours on unpaid care work alone, compare to just eight hours for men.

There is also a traditional perception that women are less capable than men of running their businesses and therefore less deserving of credit.

“If you look at the entrepreneur level, there’s this massive gap in our economies because men’s ideas are getting funded, and women’s ideas and women’s companies struggle to get that funding,” said MAIN’s Tina Di Cicco.

She added that only about 3% of venture capital is going to women, which is inadequate to help address the problems they face. Apart from financial barriers, women-led businesses also struggle lack of access to technology, relevant skills and training.

To address these issues, MAIN seeks out women-led startups and coaches them to make their business cases stronger. The network has also facilitated startup investments among its members to contribute to a positive social impact. Moreover, it has active investors committed to investing in women-led businesses for a vibrant startup ecosystem in the Philippines.

The Bottom Line: Why Investing in Women is Good Business is part of MAIN’s Gender Lens Investing Series, which aim to provide an accessible framework to make sense of what it means to invest for financial return while considering the benefits to women.

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