The Australian government, in partnership with the global financial group Macquarie Group Foundation, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, launched a P43-million (AUD 1.25 million) investment initiative to allow women-owned and women-led businesses in the Philippines to bounce back from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

050319 PH inflation 02 vicoy copy - Aussie gov’t launches million-dollar initiative to support PH businesses owned and led by women
(ALI VICOY / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Dubbed as Investing in Women Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs (RISE) Fund, the initiative is the first of its kind in the world.

This makes the Philippines as its pilot area to inject catalytic capital for women-led small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Southeast Asian region by providing much-needed liquidity amidst the global health crisis.

At the physical launching of the RISE fund, Australia’s Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J Robinson AO said the initiative “symbolizes our optimism about the future” even as the Philippines has been pushed into its first recession in three decades with millions of Filipinos losing their jobs and livelihoods.

“Women will play a central role in the recovery from COVID-19 and should have an equal part in a more resilient, inclusive, and broad-based Philippine economy. The Macquarie Investing in Women RISE Fund will support and give boosts to women’s SMEs and help to build back better in the Philippines,” the Australian envoy said.

In dispensing the fund, the Australian government and the Macquarie Group will work through two local investing partners:!the Foundation for Sustainable Society Incorporated (FSSI) and InBestCap Ventures (InBest).

Both are committed to strengthening the gender lens investing ecosystem in the Philippines, encouraging other investors to ensure women entrepreneurs can access funding to grow their business.

“Working with the Foundation for a Sustainable Society Incorporated, and InBestCap Ventures, the partnership’s investments in women-led and women-owned businesses will have a multiplier effect in the local economy by creating and sustaining more than 200 full-time jobs,” Ambassador Robinson said.

Australian Ambassador for Gender Equality Julie-Ann Guivarra, who keynoted the launching event, highlighted the collaboration between Macquarie and Investing in Women to promote women-led SMEs as “drivers of inclusive economic growth and resilience in the Philippines.”

“This partnership has the potential to unlock the transformative capital and hopefully draw even more private investment into the region in support of women’s economic empowerment,” Guivarra said in a video message.

During the pilot launch, Ambassador Robinson and Macquarie Group representative Eric Yaptangco signed the partnership agreement with FSSI Corporate Secretary Chrisie Rowena Plantilla and InBest Corporate Secretary Benilda Ronquillo Camba. This is part of their commitment to contribute to the COVID-19 economic response and recovery in the Philippines.

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