May 27, 2024

The country needs to expand an integrated digital and financial literacy program for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to support their digitalizing efforts, especially amid the pandemic, according to a Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) discussion paper.

PIDS senior research fellow Connie Bayudan-Dacuycuy and Paul John Mendoza Peña, professional lecturer at the School of Economics, De La Salle University, said agencies and business communities should also consider consolidating and extending their digital and financial literacy, as part of priority capacity-building efforts.

This ensures that MSMEs are equipped with the requisite knowledge about a “quickly digitalizing economy”, they said.

“Furthermore, digital transformation and innovation capacity-building efforts will help MSMEs regain competitiveness and improve sector resilience amid an ongoing pandemic,” Bayudan-Dacuycuy and Peña said in the discussion paper.

The authors discussed in the paper the gendered impacts of policy responses designed primarily to provide relief and support for business continuity while the economy was on hold based on the experiences of entrepreneurs during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They also highlighted the need to empower business communities to augment gaps in the experience of women entrepreneurs and to address their care work responsibilities.

These communities can capture the nuances of women’s entrepreneurship and provide them with access to a support system by and for women, as agencies focus on inclusive growth for both men and women for which universal programs are adopted, they said.

“Some women entrepreneurs will benefit from thought leadership by sharing daily challenges, effectively giving them a more personal emotional support system that may not always be a priority for government agencies,” Bayudan-Dacuycuy and Peña added.

The authors said business communities also provide government agencies with access to their network, which may help extend the reach of policy responses and address the amplification and marketing needs of government programs.

“Furthermore, a closer interaction between business communities and government agencies will help build capacity-building efforts closer to MSMEs beneficiaries, including agricultural cooperatives with varying perceptions of the availability and accessibility of government programs, especially during emergencies,” they said.

Bayudan-Dacuycuy and Peña said it is likewise important to introduce a gender lens in all laws specifying exactly how laws address the specific needs of women beneficiaries, especially in disasters or other similar extraordinary situations where some sectors stand to be underrepresented in favor of a perceived general welfare agenda.

“Providing a mandate on women from the top of the government will allow agencies to align their implementation agendas that are responsive to gender-differentiated needs, promoting even better cohesion within and across agencies,” they said. – Press release