/ 18 December 2022

EIGHT social enterprises led by women that received startup grants from the Department of Science and Technology marked the end of their 10-month incubation with a networking event dubbed “Tens of Nets: The WHWise – iBLEnDNICE 4 WomEn Networking Days.”

“Tens of Nets will give women entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their products to the online market, share their knowledge and experiences about social enterprises, as well as network with other invited social entrepreneurs from the Philippine startup ecosystem,” said Engr. Ninaliza Escorial, deputy executive director of the DOST- Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development.

Tens of Nets, a palindrome referring to the exponential power of networking, is supported under DOST’s “Women Helping Women Innovating Social Enterprises: innovation thru Building and Leveraging Entrepreneurship Development, Networking and Inclusive Community Engagement Program for Women Entrepreneurs” also known as WHWISE:iBLenDNICE 4 WomEn program.

The eight women-led startups, namely, Eduksine, Ofamen Cacao Farms, Planstville Health, Actions Hub, Husay.Co, Virtualahan, Empath, and Ato Ani belong to the first cohort of women-led startups. Each received between P2 million and P5 million in grant from the WHWise program of PCIEERD, a council under DOST. These startups were chosen based on their venture’s technical and commercial viability and on their social and/or environmental impact that translates to job generation for communities.

“The program is one huge effort to address women’s participation, in particular women-led social enterprises, to the economic development of our country,” said Dr. Jinky Bornales, Project Leader of the iBLenDNICE 4 WomEn Incubation Team. “We shall witness eight women entrepreneurs who are ready to take part in building a more sustainable innovation ecosystem in our country, thus bringing more positive impact to their respective communities,” Escorial said.

DOST partnered with three academic institutions that served as Technology Business Incubators for all eight startups namely, iDEYA run by Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Miriam College-TBI run by Miriam College, and UPGRADE InnoLab, Inc. run by the University of the Philippines-Mindanao.

DOST is keen on equalizing technology-based startup opportunities between men and women, where only 22 percent are women-led, according to PCIEERD. It also aims to address gender-based biases that women entrepreneurs experience on the ground examples of which include stereotyped jobs for women, social expectations and barriers from women with families, a prevalent “Bro Culture” that is low-key present in venture capital circles, and barriers in communication in male dominated organizations and/or with mentors.

Organized by Miriam College, Tens of Nets was highlighted by booth exhibits, memorandum of understanding signing, sharing sessions on the entrepreneurial journey of the eight women social entrepreneurs, pitch sessions, and a special talk on the professionalization of social enterprises in the Philippines.