OnQ Blog

Empowering female entrepreneurs in the Philippines with advanced wireless technology

Sep 11, 2014

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Did you know that worldwide, more than 2.5 billion people lack access to financial services such as banks and credit cards? In the Philippines, only one in five households has a bank account, making it difficult for the unbanked demographic in the community to make payments or transfer money.

For this reason, Qualcomm Wireless Reach™, joined Hapinoy, a Filipino-based social enterprise that has developed programs for small, neighborhood convenience stores (sari-sari stores) in the Philippines, in an effort to provide female micro-entrepreneurs the opportunity to generate additional income and provide financial services to their communities.

Through the collaboration, the Hapinoy Mobile Money Hub project supplies women business owners with mobile literacy training, access to capital via microfinance institutions (MFIs), and technology through mobile money operators and technology developers.

Since the project’s inception in 2013, 3,000 of these store owners in the Philippines, women called Nanays (which means mothers in Tagalog) have been trained by this program. The program not only empowers the Nanays to achieve financial sustainability, but also enables them to offer financial services to unbanked communities across the Philippines.

Last week I attended the Mobile Money Hub launch event in Manila, where my colleague Mantosh Malhotra and I had the privilege of announcing the project results to local government officials, including members of the Central Bank of the Philippines, community members and media. Several of the Nanays were also there to share their positive experiences with the project and describe how access to the technology has improved their business. We even created a store-front mock up with smartphones, so all of the guests could really get a feel for how the sari-sari stores look and operate.

In my role on the Wireless Reach team, I manage our portfolio of projects in Southeast Asia. I’ve been to the region dozens of times now, and each time I visit, I am constantly inspired by the entrepreneurial drive of the women I meet from our projects.

One of the Nanays I met had an especially transformative story. Her name is Nanay Lani—whom you see in our video—and she started her business with just a table and Php 3,000-5,000 worth of diaper supplies, which converts to roughly $68-$114 USD. She slowly added milk and other infant needs as her capital increased. Eventually her business grew from a table-top store to a slightly bigger house-front sari-sari store. Since joining Hapinoy, she has had three expansions and renovations. Soon, she plans to have another renovation so her store can occupy the entire first floor of their house.

A huge help for her store is her mobile money business. Today, her mobile money business is stronger than ever with an average of fifteen to twenty transactions daily. Due to her program participation, her store has grown in size and profits and she was able to save enough for a motorcycle, a piece of property and a house, as well as her children’s education.

I’m grateful I was able to meet Nanay Lani and see firsthand how the Mobile Money Hub project demonstrates the impact that wireless technology can have on communities beyond communication, and the possibility for mobile devices to serve as a means for growing local economies and providing services in parts of the world where they are currently unavailable.

Stay tuned for updates as we scale the project to expand our outreach and increase the number of people in the Philippines who have access to financial services.

To learn more about Qualcomm Wireless Reach, please visit our website.

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