Women Entrepreneurs Rising Against All Odds: What We Learned From The WE Rise x SheDisrupts Philippines 2022 Pitch Event
Alyanna Supetran writes about how Villgro Philippines and Creatella Impact celebrated International Women’s Day by sharing the progress and learnings from the WE Rise x SheDisrupts Philippines 2022 venture competition, hosting a live pitch event, and placing a spotlight on the remarkable work of the cohort.
In 2022 Villgro Philippines partnered with Creatella Impact to launch WE Rise x SheDisrupts Philippines — a venture competition and an intensive pre-acceleration program organized with support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation, UN Women, and Investing in Women (an initiative of the Australian Government). The program looked to empower women entrepreneurs through capacity-building on business scaling, technology, gender equality, and impact management.
Through WE Rise x SheDisrupts Philippines we were able to offer women entrepreneurs crucial tools, resources, and opportunities to help them get access to capital to grow their businesses and advance the socio-economic progress and empowerment of women in the Philippines. The program ran from April to May 2022.
‘It takes a village to build an inclusive ecosystem’
On March 8, 2023, we reconvened to celebrate International Women’s Day together and share our learnings from the program. Organizers and sponsors warmly welcomed the audience while echoing the same sentiment — that everyone in the program has shown an inspiring and unwavering commitment to make the world a better place, and while we celebrate the progress that has been made towards gender equality, there is still so much to be done.
“The starting point is not only focusing on investment readiness but also creating a community of practice around the link between gender and finance in Southeast Asia, championed by local advocates,” remarked James Soukamneuth, Impact Investing Partnership Director at Investing in Women and Initiative of the Australian Government.
Priya Thachadi, Co-Founder of Villgro Philippines shared that we are navigating a tough ecosystem, and so this is a “proud moment for us to acknowledge and celebrate incredible women” who trudge on in this ecosystem.
Rising against all odds
To acknowledge and celebrate these incredible women, the team presented the notable progress of the cohort since closing the program almost a year ago. Essentially, the session showcased the resilience of women entrepreneurs who continue to invest in themselves, and who, against all odds, are rising by focusing on revenues, testing and validating models, and getting ready for seed funding and follow-on funding.
This data was captured through a follow-up survey launched and conducted from January to February 2023. Villgro Philippines and Creatella Impact released a report that outlines the achievements of each company.
Key report highlights shared in the session include takeaways on fundraising, ecosystem, and designing similar programs.
On fundraising, we’ve noted that tech and platform businesses — specifically fintech and health tech companies — raised equity funds from early-stage investors and are scaling businesses faster.
On the ecosystem, we acknowledged the importance of entrepreneur support organizations and multi-sectoral collaborations to accelerate progress for these women-led businesses.
Lastly, we’ve seen the value of adding customized venture building and tech support in the overall program design to amplify the success of early-stage startups.
Read the full report here.
Let’s Pitch it!
The most exciting part of the event was the live pitches of six women entrepreneurs from the program cohort. The woman entrepreneurs behind AtoANI, Bixie, CAWIL.AI, Global Credit Pros, Pic-A-Talk, and Waste4Good shared their biggest wins and impact since joining the program, as well as their powerful growth plans.
You may access their pitches and other details in the Investor’s Platform here.
AtoANI aims to address crop wastage among farmers by employing a produce-to-demand model. This is done through the web and mobile-compatible data-based analytics recommendation platform called AtoANI i-CROP. The platform provides recommendations to farmers on the type and amount of crop to plant based on soil-crop compatibility data on a specific location, based on customer demand, and proximity of customer location to partner farmer location.
🔗 Connect with them: https://www.atoani.com/
Bixie is a Web3-powered financial ecosystem designed for women to trigger wealth generation through knowledge, tools, and a network where they can learn and exchange their knowledge with one another. This financial home for women addresses women’s lack of confidence and financial literacy to encourage them to save and invest.
🔗 Connect with them: https://mybixie.com/
Sector: AI & Machine Learning, IoT
CAWIL.AI is a multi-disciplinary artificial intelligence (AI) solution for machine learning models that can be integrated into mobile and web applications. They created TRACE.AI, a smart software system for seafood traceability. Through traceability, carbon footprint and fuel consumption in fisheries are reduced and compliance with the global market is achieved.
🔗 Connect with them: https://cawilai.co/
Global Credit Pros
Global Credit Pros is a financial wellness offering retirement, educational loans, personal salary loans, and life and health insurance. The company moves people out of the cycle of debt and onto a path of retirement by deploying financial wellness programs and providing access to financial support where they need it. This prompts less stress, better health, and financial security.
🔗 Connect with them: https://globalcreditpros.com.ph/en/
Pic-A-Talk is an assistive mobile application for non-verbal children with special needs. They provide a platform that helps these children communicate with other people using pictures. Without access to functional speech, these children are severely restricted in their current and future participation in education, employment, healthcare, family life, and community activities. Pic-A-Talk will be able to provide access to functional communication, giving them a chance to actively participate in all aspects of development, not just in education.
🔗 Connect with them: https://pic-a-talk.com/
Waste4Good Technologies aims to address the food waste and bio-waste problem through the Waste4Good Planting Kit with a Compost Activator Solution (CAS). Their products will utilize biodegradable waste with the help of CAS and reduce the waste to 8x smaller. Using these products, customers can quickly and easily produce their healthy food at home.
🔗 Connect with them: https://waste4good.co/
And the Winners are…
The event ended with the announcement of the winners of the live pitch, who were chosen by a panel of investors and ecosystem members. Pic-A-Talk was awarded 3 months of free tailored mentoring from Villgro Philippines. In addition, Pic-A-Talk along with Bixie and Global Credit Pros were granted 50% discounts for venture-building support by Creatella Impact. Both prizes serve as continued support for the enterprises as they further scale their businesses.
Embracing equity as an ecosystem
The session showcased such promising work led by entrepreneurs, but we are always reminded that it takes a village to navigate existing barriers and grow an inclusive community. Bridging the gender finance gap and ultimately building a level-playing field for women entrepreneurs is an undertaking that must be addressed collectively as an ecosystem effort. Exciting times are ahead of us, and an impactful way to accelerate the desired gender equity is to work together.
About the Author
Alyanna Supetran is a Program Associate (Gender & Inclusion) at Villgro Philippines and is a key player in our initiatives for women entrepreneurs across Southeast Asia.
Connect with Alyanna at firstname.lastname@example.org