MANILA, PHILIPPINES — QBO Innovation Hub continues its mission to support new founders through bootcamps, startup competitions, and investments. It believes there is a missed opportunity to drive economic growth when women are underrepresented in various industries, especially when it comes to leadership roles. A report by Fidelity found that women represent a market opportunity larger than the economies of China and the United States. Women drive majority of consumer purchasing and have the power to shape consumer markets. As the field of technology is rapidly changing, industry movers and leaders should produce outputs that contribute to the betterment of society with the resources accessible to them. Moreover, women will account for half of these end-users.
A significant number of women already feel empowered to follow their own career path. When it comes to their recognizing their rights and industry contributions, these women are on par with men. A support system backed by other women and male allies contributed to these women’s confidence in forging their own paths for themselves. Being surrounded by people who acknowledge your efforts and consider your ideas can give women the power to begin their own venture in any male-dominated industry.
“Women have so much to offer in technological innovations, as evidenced by our increasing resiliency to cement ourselves in any male-dominated industry. Women’s desire to continuously learn and stay updated with emerging technologies shows our passion for our professions, and our determination to succeed in our respective fields,” said Katrina Rausa Chan, Executive Director of QBO Innovation Hub. “At QBO, challenging gender norms and creating safe spaces to empower female entrepreneurs has always been part of our core commitments which has then been further amplified since we established our Startup Pinay program.”
The Philippine startup ecosystem has changed significantly since QBO Innovation started introducing more women founders into the ecosystem. For the third year in a row, they hosted the Philippine round of She Loves Tech competition, noting the improvement in startup ideas being pitched yearly. Through Startup Pinay, more female-led startups participated and made the case for their companies. From the tech solutions and products offered, there has been a refreshing round of Q&A followed by the pitches. Innovative business ideas stem from the way people perceive the world, along with the challenges they have faced. Women’s experiences differ from men because of what they have been through and they can identify tech solutions that address women’s needs better compared to men.
Startup Pinay’s BOOTQAMP was launched by QBO Innovation Hub, with focus on fleshing out and validating the business ideas of women-led startups. BOOTQAMP hosts learning sessions for select startups that offer a deeper look into the fundamentals of creating a startup, lean canvas building, and workshops that focus on validation through manual testing.
“Women need to be adequately supported and educated, on fair and equal grounds to ensure a successful venture,” said Katrina.
The BOOTQAMP program also offers mentoring sessions and consultation calls with other women founders and entrepreneurs. Networking is critical to survive in the Philippine startup scene. Many founders need access to capital or require the expertise of others in very specialized fields. These kinds of programs open up doors for many women. With other female leaders and founders participating in the Startup Pinay initiative, these women are put together in the same spaces which opens up more opportunities for them to develop their ideas.
“Entrepreneurship can be a very rewarding profession but it comes with its own set of struggles that only other entrepreneurs would empathize with. Women entrepreneurs need women leaders to support them and give meaningful advice for their ideas,” said Katrina.
The SHOWQASE is the culminating event of the BOOTQAMP program. After careful deliberation, the top participating startups are selected to pitch their ideas. The roster of founders range from students, freelancers, SME owners, and UX designers and this range of women highlights the entrepreneurial mindset of these women. They have come together to bring their solutions to life. Moreover, the program gives them a more accurate idea of what it would be like to pitch to venture capitalists in the future.
The Startup Pinay initiative also shares reports on the local startup ecosystems across the Philippines. They hold virtual conferences and campaigns to open discussion threads with women leaders and founders. To foster a community of women founders, they have shared remarkable stories of women in the tech industry.
“There is more room for technological innovations and breakthroughs now that more women are joining the startup scene,” concluded Katrina. “Startup Pinay has increased awareness of the importance of women in tech, along with the value they bring to startup communities. Intentional safe spaces have been created for women to disseminate their ideas and share their experiences with the new platforms created following this initiative.”
Startup Pinay is a program of QBO Innovation Hub in partnership with Investing in Women to connect current and future women founders with opportunities, from mentorship to funding, in the startup ecosystem.