Continuing its commitment for women’s economic empowerment (WEE) through Science, Technology and Innovation, the Department of Science and Technology Region V (DOST-V) initiated a new program to support women micro-entrepreneurs (WMEs) in the Bicol Region: the Innovations for Women Enterprises or iWOMEN Project.
Inspired by the successful run of the Gender Responsive Economic Action for the Transformation of Women or GREAT Women Project 2 (GWP2) in the region, iWOMEN is geared towards improving competitiveness, sustainability and economic empowerment of WMEs. iWOMEN was conceptualized and developed through DOST-V’s Gender and Development (GAD) implementation.
The project supports women’s economic empowerment by providing scientific, technological and innovative interventions, and technical assistance to WMEs in Bicol, covering the priority sectors of food processing; metals & engineering; furniture-making; agriculture, marine & aquaculture; forestry/livestock; ICT/electronics; health & wellness products; gifts, decors & handicrafts; and other regional industry priorities.
Through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), DOST-V forged a collaboration with Bicol University (BU) in delivering Core Business Development Sessions for iWOMEN. BU will lead the project’s capability training aspect through the university’s Center for Technology Commercialization and Enterprise Development (CTCED) and Start-up Incubation and Limitless Integration of Dynamic Entrepreneurial Leaders of Innovation (SILI DELI) Technology Business Incubator.
DOST’s Innovations for Filipinos Working Distantly from the Philippines (iFWD PH) program will also play a key part in the project, as its Core Business Modules will be used for the initial iWOMEN trainings. Whilst iWOMEN focuses on WMEs, iFWD PH is a program of the department that aims to help Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) establish their own technology-based businesses in the country.
Twenty-four (24) iWOMEN applicants are slated to take part in the trainings in partnership with BU. With eighty-five (85) maximum allotted slots, the remainder will be given to new iFWD PH regional applicants, regardless of gender.
Two successful iWOMEN who complete the training from each of the six provinces of Bicol will be chosen for the assistance, which includes capability building trainings, technical consultancy, and financial grant worth Php100,000 for the acquisition of equipment, supplies, raw materials, and packaging and labeling expenses.
iWOMEN is implemented in four stages. Levels 1 (Pre-Implementation) and 2 (Technology and Capacity-building Trainings) are implemented this 2022; for 2023, Level 3 will involve the Conduct of Technology Needs Assessment (TNA), Technology Pitching/Matching, and Techno-based Enterprise Start-up Assistance.
Ultimately, the goal of iWOMEN is to prepare WMEs become eligible to avail of the Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program (SETUP), DOST’s banner program that aims to assist micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in adopting technological interventions to improve their products and operations.
For 2024 and beyond, Level 4 Implementation will consist of iWOMEN Connect (market expansion through adoption of digital marketing technologies), Advanced iWOMEN (sustainability program through SETUP), and iWOMEN Share (advocacy for women economic empowerment through the project). (FBBanda / MFLMiranda / LDBBellen / DMABOdavar, DOST-V; BU)