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Australian govt, foundation support women-led enterprises 

‘In response to this challenge, Australia is working with the Philippine government to help manage and recover from COVID-19.  We have reoriented our development cooperation program to support health security, help maintain stability, and stimulate economic recovery, with a focus on vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls.’ — Amb. Steven Robinson AO.

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Holding the official announcement for the beginning of the Investing in Women RISE Fund-Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs are (from left) Eric Yaptangco, division director, Manila technology and office head, Macquarie Group; HE Steven J. Robinson AO, Australian  ambassador to the Philippines;  Christie Rowena Plantilla, corporate secretary, board of trustees, Foundation for a Sustainable Society Inc.; and Benilda Ronquillo-Camba, board member and corporate secretary, InBestCap Ventures. / Photograph courtesy of Macquarie Group Foundation

COVID-19 has spiraled from a public health emergency to a global humanitarian and economic crisis, with women  disproportionately affected.

In response, Investing in Women, an initiative of the Australian government, launched the Investing in Women RISE Fund. RISE, which stands for Responsive Interventions Supporting Entrepreneurs, aims to inject capital for women-led Small and Medium  Enterprises (SME) in the Asian region. The fund offsets COVID-19 impacts on women-owned and women-led businesses and provides much-needed liquidity in a capital constrained market.

The Macquarie Group Foundation has joined this initiative and will be investing more than P43 million (or AUD 1.25 million). The Macquarie-Investing in Women RISE Fund was  formally launched on 17 November 2020 at a signing ceremony led by the Australian  ambassador to the Philippines, HE Steven J. Robinson AO and Eric Yaptangco, division  director, Manila technology and office head, Macquarie Group.

“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 boost women’s SME and help to build back better in the Philippines,” explained Ambassador Robinson AO. “Closing the gap between women’s and men’s access to capital will provide a significant boost to economic  growth at a time when it is much needed.”

COVID-19 has pushed the Philippines into its first recession in three decades, and millions of Filipinos have lost their jobs and livelihoods, Robinson added.

“In response to this challenge, Australia is working with the Philippine government to help manage and recover from COVID-19. We have reoriented our development cooperation program to support health security, help maintain stability, and stimulate economic recovery, with a focus on vulnerable groups, particularly women and girls,’’ he said.

This public-private alliance will work through two local investing partners: the Foundation for  a Sustainable Society Incorporated (FSSI) and InBestCap Ventures (InBest). The fund will  enable these partners to provide much-needed investments to women’s SME which will  have a multiplier effect in the local economy, creating and sustaining more than 200 full-time  jobs.

In addition, the investment partners (FSSI and InBest) 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 businesses.

“The Macquarie-Investing in Women RISE Fund will ensure that women entrepreneurs can  access the funding required to adapt and respond to emerging business opportunities  during the critical recovery period in the region. Working through impact investors, our  support will help businesses to restart economic activity in hard-hit areas of the Philippines,” said Lisa George, global head, Macquarie Group Foundation.

“While the Philippine economy is expected to rebound next year, driven by fiscal stimulus measures, public investments (especially in infrastructure) and consumer spending, there is a dearth of liquidity in capital markets. Working with local investing partners, the Macquarie — Investing in Women RISE Fund will catalyse much-needed investment in women’s SME,” Robinson said.

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