Women at the Forefront: Championing Entrepreneurial Visions into Reality thru DOST’s WHWise

Author: Shaira P. Rapisora  Published: Jun. 14, 2023

Every woman should be recognized and given the opportunity to pursue their dreams, particularly when it comes to venturing into the entrepreneurial sphere.

For years, workplaces consciously or unconsciously blindsided women; perhaps due to social norms, preconceived ideas, and male dominance in certain fields. The existence of a gender gap has remained apparent, and gender stereotyping continues to persist. However, the present times have proven that women in the business industry are flourishing especially in leadership roles.

Further, recent report findings in the Philippines revealed that there is a significant increase in the percentage of women entrepreneurs who are executives of their own business enterprises, or board members in largely growing companies. Undoubtedly, women have made remarkable strides and notable achievements in a wide range of fields, including traditionally male-dominated sectors like business.

Women and the Government

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has consistently worked towards fostering inclusivity and gender equality across its programs and various initiatives. Recently, the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST PCIEERD) launched its Women-Helping-Women: Innovating Social Enterprises (WHWise) Program Innovation Challenge, in collaboration with the DOST Regional Offices.

The WHWise Program is aimed at providing comprehensive support and guidance to women-led social entrepreneurs. This includes many opportunities such as technical consultations, training and skill development, mentoring sessions, technology-based business incubation, and funding assistance.

Moreso, these initiatives are aimed at honing their skills and knowledge, empowering women entrepreneurs throughout the country.

In partnership with Miriam College-Technology Business Incubation (MC-TBI) Team, DOST-NCR has taken the lead in organizing the mentoring sessions and final pitching event for this year’s WHWise Innovation Challenge in Metro Manila, where a total of 12 women-led social enterprises have participated.

Women Exude Excellence

After a series of wonderfully pitched business creatives and incredibly sustainable ideas held on 13 June 2023 at the Miriam College Innovation Center, top five (5) thriving women in the Metro have finally secured a spot of hope for their social enterprises.

The top five social enterprises have been acknowledged for their exceptional leadership, outstanding accomplishments in the industry, technology-driven objectives, commitment to gender equality, and their potential to create positive socio-economic impacts through sustainable and community-driven initiatives. As a token of recognition, these enterprises have been presented with a plaque of recognition and a prize of Php 50,000.

DOST-NCR Regional Director Engr. Romelen T. Tresvalles, MC-TBI Resource Manager Ms. Ma. Cristina L. Ibanez, and judges – CEO and President of CL Follosco Group Inc. Ms. Maret Follosco-Bautista, CEO of Palamigan Co. Mr. Rodmark Barriga, and Former DOST-V Regional Director Mr. Tomas Brinas led the awarding and recognition ceremony.

Women and Innovation

Among the women on the list is Romae Chanice “Nice” Marquez, the visionary Founder and Director of Hibla Textile Fabrics Wholesaling. This enterprise, aptly named after the Filipino word for “fiber,” aims to create a platform for local weavers to showcase their creativity and dedication within the weaving industry. Hibla also strives to preserve and highlight the profound cultural value of Philippine textiles by producing sustainable items like clothing, bags, home decorations, and accessories.

Also in the roster is the Founder and Chief Greenovator of Everything Green Trading and Consulting, Camille Rose D. Albarracin. Her enterprise is dedicated to manufacturing eco-lifestyle products in collaboration with partner communities. Gree-ne-las, the flagship product of the enterprise, is a groundbreaking Filipino brand of slippers that serves as a greener alternative.

These slippers are compostable and designed to bring about a transformation in the international hospitality industry by integrating sustainability throughout its key business processes, starting from procurement all the way to disposal.

Another trailblazer who made it to the top five is Cattleya&Rose Gourmet Foods Trading by sisters Sharon Cattleya and Sheila Rose Romero. As a Manila-based global MSME, C&R Gourmet Foods has given immense value to bringing more sustainable and healthier alternative food products locally and internationally. One of their notable products is the Coconut Butter Spread, where the key ingredient, coconut or “buko,” is directly sourced from their partner agri-cooperatives within the country.

Moreover, C&R plays a crucial role as the responsible entity for sourcing, exporting, and locally distributing products on behalf of the SAGANA Association, a Geneva-based social business which was started by Cattleya in 2015.

Angela Duldulao-Regis is another woman who embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 2017. She is the Co-founder of the Dream Wide Awake (D’WA) Company, a cafe and creatives social enterprise. Amid intense competition within the coffee industry especially after the pandemic, Angela passionately believes that what sets D’WA apart is not only its offerings of beverages crafted with the finest and premium local ingredients sourced from diverse farms nationwide but also its unwavering commitment to sustainability as the enterprise’s core advocacy.

Lastly, completing the list of notable women is Dr. Anneth Rigon, President of Santarra Natural Products Inc. Santarra is a Filipino social enterprise engaging in the research, development, education, and promotion of Bamboo leaf products such as tea, hydrosol, beer, vinegar, wine, and bamboo leaf extract. The enterprise aims to generate sustainable economic opportunities within bamboo communities in the Philippines, particularly by leveraging the inherent and traditional skills of women in bamboo propagation and processing.

These five exceptional women will represent the National Capital Region in the highly anticipated National Pitching Competition on 23 June 2023.

Women are Natural Leaders

Gender equality is a transformative force for women, regardless of the industry they are in, including business. Women possess inherent leadership qualities, much like men. And with DOST’s unwavering commitment to promoting gender equality and inclusivity through its programs and services, women will continue to rise and achieve greatness.

The active involvement of women in diverse business opportunities, such as the WHWise Program, serves as concrete evidence that women have the ability to overcome obstacles and create positive change. As a result, women play a crucial role in fostering not only economic development, but also social growth in the country.

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