Empowering women entrepreneurs

From the left: The SM Store President Chelo Monasterio, BDO Senior Vice President and MSME Unit Head Karen Cua,
and SM Supermalls AVP for Leasing Strategy and Operations Gina Katigbak, who is also a life coach

In celebration of International Women’s Month this March, SM presented a two-day Women at Work webinar for entrepreneurs. A complete and holistic approach on how to start and grow a business amid the pandemic, the webinar featured life coaches, experts from the business sector, and women’s empowerment advocates.

The webinar is a joint effort by SM and its advocacy partners: UN Women, Department of Trade and Industries, Philippine Commission on Women, Connected Women, and BDO Network Bank.

Among the panel of speakers were three women at work from the SM Group who shared their real-life experiences and some inspiring woman-to-woman talk: The SM Store President Chelo Monasterio, BDO Senior Vice President and MSME Unit Head Karen Cua, and SM Supermalls AVP for Leasing Strategy and Operations Gina Katigbak, who is also a life coach.

They showed the tools and resources to succeed in business, and shared ways to manage the many roles women play in life and how to make great things happen for themselves, their family, their community.

Monasterio welcomed the webinar’s partners and participants, reiterating SM’s commitment to empowering the business community — especially SMEs — and women at work. After all, “SM is a community of 90,000 SMEs from farming to artisan communities, from local manufacturers to shop owners from food kiosks to restaurant owners.” 

She added that “while SMEs are considered the backbone of our business, women are the pillars of our business. Our organization has close to 100,000 women making up 63 percent of our workforce. Sixty percent of us are in senior management positions, while 65 percent are in middle management.” In fact, the business empire was recognized by Bloomberg as a company that affirms strong support for women and included in its Gender Equality Index twice in a row.

Cua talked about financial opportunities that one can have by availing the bank’s Kabuhayan Loan for micro, small and medium enterprises.

She also shared how the Kabuhayan Loan helped “EntrePinays” to make their business grow and overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic by all availing of the Kabuhayan Loan.

These included Rowena, a junk shop owner in Batangas City who strengthened her business buy buying a delivery truck; and Lulu, a wholesaler in Cagayan Valley who stocked up her inventory and bought a van to deliver her goods. Jeneveve from Isabela started a new business selling home essentials to supplement her hollow blocks, gravel and sand business; while Mary Anne, a fish vendor in Baclaran and Arica, a metal manufacturer in Bicutan increased their capital investment in able to continue their business and serve their customers.

Cua, a Wharton MBA degree holder who has worked in financial institutions in the US and China, also shared some tips for women at work:

– Dream. “Pursue your passion and ambition while balancing your other roles as a woman.”

– Believe. “Women can do it as we are born and built to be hardworking, patient, and multi-talented.”

– Dare. “Grab opportunities when you see it. Seek help and resources as no one can do big things alone.”

Finally, Katigbak gave an inspiring discourse on women empowerment.

“Empowered you is about women embracing their self-worth, the practice of self-compassion and self-trust,” she said.

With that, it is important to “reframe your limiting beliefs and ultimately create your breakthroughs in life.”

She shared more tips to practice being empowered:

  • Find your voice and stand up for yourself.
  • Be positive and have empowering thoughts — cultivate the self-talk that supports your greatness and not your smallness.
  • Drop the perfectionism and go for progress.
  • Practice self-care, self-compassion, and loving-kindness that go a long way to help us feel empowered.
  • Celebrate your wins as a woman and support other women to recognize their wins.

Source: Manila Times