Opening window of business opportunities for rural women though e-commerce

Thousands of women in rural communities in the Philippines have already gained access to opportunities in the global marketplace through the Internet, after having participated in the WINNER seminars-workshops on Internet e-commerce, international trade practices and enterprise management.  These women are engaged in micro and small enterprises, producing various goods and products that are slowly gaining exposure to international buyers.

Sponsored by UN Women, WINNER program is implemented by Devnet in selected developing countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

In the Philippines, the Technological Information Promotion System /Devnet implements the WINNER program (Women into the New Network for Entrepreneurial Reinforcement), and has already conducted a number of roving seminars/workshops in selected local communities around the country. This is done in collaboration with non-government organizations and local government units, thereby directly benefiting over 10,000 women micro/small entrepreneurs since the start of the program in 2000.

Among the major partners of WINNER program are: (Northern Luzon) STREAMS, Benguet Entrepreneurs Association, National Tribal Council of Elders of Cordillera; (Southern Luzon and Visayas) Pambansang Taga-Ugnay ng Manggagawa sa Bahay (Patamaba); (Mindanao) Kababaihang Kaagapay at Kasama sa Hanapbuhay (KAKASAHA). In the micro/small enterprises sector, women account for 90 percent of home-based livelihoods and business start-ups.  The competitiveness of these women’s enterprises depends on the conditions over which they have no control.   Thus, to address this need, networking for sharing knowledge and information on market opportunities improves their sustainability. Through the WINNER program, the products of these women’s enterprises are promoted online through various websites, thereby providing these enterprises exposure to markets and opportunity to be contacted for orders or sub-contracting by large exporters.

Majority of these women’s enterprises are engaged in agriculture and fishery products, food processing, handicrafts, body care products, garments and woven products, among others.

Partner organizations of WINNER host Help Desks,  consisting of computer with Internet connection to provide follow-up activities to the training conducted in local communities.  Some of these Help Desks are located in: La Trinidad, Benguet; Buhi, Camarines Sur; Santa Barbara, Iloilo; Surigao City, Las Piñas City, Baguio City; and Kabacan, North Cotabato.

Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme, during its recent celebration of International Day of Rural Women, recognized the outstanding contribution of women in rural communities to the well-being of their families and the development of their communities.

With the training on Internet/e-commerce conducted by WINNER for women in rural communities, a window of opportunity has been opened to these women.  Through the use of computer with Internet connection, these women are able to learn new skills and to manage social relations as well as improve work productivity. Tess Roseus, one of the participants in the WINNER training held in Tagaytay City, said: “With knowledge of Internet, I was able to network with women producers and buyers.  In fact, through the Internet, I received an order from one of the agencies of the government for conference bags to be used in an international conference.  I hope more companies get to know about us through the WINNER network…”


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