A heartening development awaits participants in a regional conference dubbed as ASEAN Women’s Business Conference which showcases key initiatives that are women-led across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) providing wide-ranging support for start-up companies headed by women entrepreneurs.

The occasion will also serve as an introduction of the ASEAN 10×10 Initiative that aims to connect 10 businesses with 10 startups across all 10 ASEAN member states. These start-ups will gain access to support services such as client acquisition, investments, mentoring, grants and sponsorships, among others.

“This is a great opportunity to spur local entrepreneurship in the country, considering that we have a considerable number of women business leaders and entrepreneurs in the Philippines,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary for Trade and Investments Promotion Group Nora Terrado.

The launching of the ASEAN 10×10 is set during lunchtime at the ASEAN Women’s Business Conference on 31 August at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). The conference was organized in the Philippines through the DTI in partnership with the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).

“The larger ASEAN Women’s Business Conference will provide a platform for entrepreneurs to hold dialogues between and among the ASEAN delegates from the private and public sector as well as ASEAN partners on matters that advance women entrepreneurship. These are the important topics such as access to markets, innovative business models and baseline studies that will pave the way for crafting of relevant policies and programs in the ASEAN region,” Undersecretary Terrado explained.

As an introduction of the 10X10 Initiative, its pilot phase will focus on women-led small and start-up companies, which is part of the ASEAN region’s gender equality advocacy.

“Philippines topped the Gender Gap Index in the Asia-Pacific region, and this sets us an example for other countries to continue to empower women in contributing to the nation’s economy,” said Undersecretary Terrado.

In recent report published by the World Economic Forum, the Philippines ranked 7th among 144 countries surveyed in terms of gender gap index.

Earlier this year, DTI with AWEN also led the Women in Tech Forum. Moving forward to the advocacy of advancing women in technology, AWEN is set to pilot the 10 x 10 project within its membership network in ASEAN.

One of its top partners, MAGIC Malaysia, will support the implementation of the project through its MAGIC Activate Program, a platform that can connect startups with a global community of entrepreneurs.

“We can see in our country alone how women have the capability of growing a business. We see women leaders leading various campaigns of uplifting women’s participation in the economy. With ASEAN Women’s Business Conference, we seek to promote gender equality in the ASEAN region, with the Philippines at the forefront,” emphasized Undersecretary Terrado.