Women empower women, through technology, finance

By on March 22, 2021 0
As many small businesses struggle to survive, executives at a financial technology company are pushing for greater inclusion among women entrepreneurs.
Three of Home Credit’s women leaders (left to right) Jana Pechouckova, Chief Financial Officer, Sheila Paul, Chief Marketing Officer and Alpha Omega Aquino, Chief Human Resources Officer (Not pictured: Susan Ong, Chief Information Officer and Chief Legal Officer Atty. Alicia Salita)

“Looks like yesterday we didn’t even have a roof, let alone a store,” said Gina, opening her panciteria for the day. Located in their tiny garage next to their home just outside of Manila, the restaurant serves arroz caldo, lugaw, and pancit to their loyal patrons, who have gradually returned as quarantine restrictions are lifted. . With hungry patrons filling seats, the covered open-air restaurant provides a safe and sheltered space for diners to enjoy a bowl of hot lugaw and is a stable source of income for Gina’s family. But it has not always been so. “When we started our lugawan business six years ago, we only had one bike and we were walking around our neighborhood with as much hot lugaw as we could carry,” recalls Gina. “It meant our menu and sales were limited, and if it was raining that day and we couldn’t go out, it meant we wouldn’t have any sales at all. We needed our own covered puwesto, but we didn’t have the funds for it. Gina is not alone. According to the Statistical Authority of the Philippines (PSA) 2019 list of establishments, MSMEs accounted for 99.5% of the country’s business enterprises. However, a recent article by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) found that MSMEs faced a severe lack of funds during the pandemic, with 61.4% of medium, 53.1% of small and 37.8% of microenterprises declaring that they would operate. without funds within one month. Gina is also among the 29.5 million Filipino adults receiving loans, 38% of whom are women, according to the financial inclusion survey by Bangko Sentral ng Pilpinas (BSP). These high numbers should come as no surprise in a country where women are often decision makers within the household. According to the recent National Demographic and Health Survey, 89% of women surveyed are responsible for managing their household budget and making financial decisions. So it is perhaps not surprising that for the company that provided a loan of money to Gina for her business, the majority of her clients are also women. “Three in five of our clients are women, including housewives, breadwinners and small business owners,” says Sheila Paul, Marketing Director of Home Credit, a Prague-based financial services provider who offers loans in more than 7,000 partner stores nationwide. as a digital financial services host through their My Home Credit app. “Apart from that, many of our lending clients are either unbanked or first-time borrowers, so we are trying to fill the financial inclusion gap for these underserved areas,” he adds. -it. With the financial challenges of the new normal, the demand for loans and other financial services is higher than ever, leading to the popularity of non-bank financial institutions and online lending applications. But it was Home Credit that first introduced the concept of ‘consumer finance’ to the country over seven years ago, offering in-store financing for smartphones, home appliances and more. goods, even without a credit card and requiring only simple requirements. for quick approval. Today, the Home Credit business model is highly digitalized, with customers able to apply for gadget loans through the app and then become eligible for cash loans as they build their credit history. The app, which now has over 1.2 million users, offers a host of features, ranging from self-service tools for account holders to the ability to make in-app purchases online as well as online shopping. ” make QR payments at partner stores. Companies like Home Credit recognize that technology is essential for Filipinos of all walks of life to successfully navigate the new normal. And with many women in need of inclusive digital financial services, it may be fitting that Ms. Paul is joined by several other women leaders on Home Credit’s executive committee to provide this service. “We believe that the best kind of technology is one that is accessible to everyone and enables services that can improve lives,” says Susan Ong, chief information officer for Home Credit. “Thanks to technology, not only are we making our loan applications faster and simpler, but we are making them safe and secure. And our mobile app is growing rapidly to provide daily service to consumers – from loyalty discounts and in-market purchases, to paying bills and reloading. What’s exciting is that our Filipino consumers are also at the forefront of embracing this digital lifestyle.

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