Product design clinics level up capacity of women’s enterprises for market competitiveness

In a highly competitive marketplace, product brand identity creates an edge over other products. In many cases, the identity results from an innovative process that brings out the commercial appeal of the product to buyers. Concept, eco-friendly material, craftsmanship, price and production consistency combine to make the product a cut above the rest.

Aware of the need of microenterprises to have a fighting chance in the global marketplace, the Philippine Commission on Women recently launched a nationwide drive to help women’s microenterprises level-up their capacity to come up with products that are world class in design and quality. Through its GREAT Women (Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women) Project, it engaged the cooperation of ECHOSI (Enabling Communities with Hope and Opportunities Sustainable Initiatives) Foundation to field to various regions around the country a team of product design consultants.

GREAT Women is a 5-year project which aims to support and promote the economic well-being of women through increased access to training, credit, technology and microenterprises. It is supported by the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with a grant to the Philippine Commission on Women.

Intensive product design clinics drew women in micro/small enterprises to take advantage of the expertise and experience of world-class product designers who volunteered their talents and time to help women entrepreneurs embrace the innovation process in product creation and production.

The design clinics are interactive sessions that include discussion of the elements of product design, factors of market appeal of products as well as critique of products of women’s enterprises, with  the view to giving them strong brand identity and attraction to buyers. The inaugural design clinic was held in Lucena City, Province of Quezon and subsequent design clinics will be conducted in Camarines Sur, Bohol, Leyte, Davao, North Cotabato and Ifugao Province. These locations have been pre-identifical as areas where there is abundance of unique raw materials for products, concentration of women in micro/small enterprises as well as potentials for product brand identify take off.

To enter new markets, women’s micro/small enterprises must focus on consistent high product quality as well as strong and reliable production capacity. Once products are viable in the market, easily microfinance for capital becomes available to help these women’s enterprises scale up their business, increase earnings and attain financial freedom. Among the important topics taken up during the clinics are: eco-friendly packaging, price competitiveness, continuing research and development (innovation) as well as keeping abreast of developments in the marketplace and trends in buyers’ preferences.

Present at the launching of the first of roving product design clinics were: designers Jeannie Javelosa and Tess Pasola, former Ambassador Romy Manalo, Imelda Canuela of ECHOSI Foundation, Pablito Budoy of the Department of Trade and Industry and Jenny Ann Nabia of the Department of Science and Technology.


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