Senator Pia S. Cayetano is pushing for targeted subsidies to help families and individuals who would like to start or expand their home-based and micro businesses as a means of livelihood to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The senator raised the concept of subsidies targeted specifically for women and small entrepreneurs during the Senate finance committee hearing on the proposed 2022 budget of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
She noted that women’s work at home and their contribution to the economy have long been recognized as “unpaid work.” This situation has become even more pronounced as women who previously may have had part-time or full-time work outside the home have either lost their jobs, or been forced to stay home because of the pandemic.
“Many mothers have had to stay home to become ‘full time’ teachers to their children who are studying from home. Even older sisters and young women with nieces and nephews are tasked to look after the younger children in the household instead of working outside the home,” she pointed out.
“The good news is, the entrepreneurial spirit of Filipinos finds a way to shine.” She expressed delight in seeing home-based and online businesses flourishing in the last two years, ranging from food products to clothing, accessories, and services.
“I am sure everyone [in this hearing] has a daughter or ‘pamangkin’ or knows of a teen or young adult who has started a business at home during the pandemic. All of us have exchanged these goodies that we bought from these (budding) entrepreneurs who are making all these brownies, cupcakes, everything,” said the senator.
These opportunities are not available to all, however. The senator cited the situation of young women from lower income families who have entrepreneurial skills, but lack access to seed or startup capital.
“Girls that come from the middle or upper economic classes have easier access to capital and have the opportunity to start a business. But those from the lower income group don’t have that kind of access,” noted Cayetano, who is also the principal author of the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710), the landmark law passed in 2009 advancing the rights and welfare of Filipino women.
“They should have access to capital. So that’s where Secretary Karl, I’d like you to consider this like a targeted and proactive stimulus package,” she told NEDA Secretary Karl Chua, who attended the online hearing.
Giving direct assistance to women-led micro and small businesses is practiced in many developing countries and forms part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 5 or Gender Equality, according to the senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on the SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking. #