Women’s income share from online business drop

Filipino women received lower average income from online businesses than their male counterparts during the pandemic due to the increasing number of pinay entrepreneurs entering the digital economy, an International Finance Corp. (IFC) report revealed.

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Based on IFC’s Women in E-Commerce in Southeast Asia Report released on Thursday, May 27, the sales numbers of women-owned online businesses had been higher than those of their male counterparts before the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this pre-pandemic trend was reversed in 2020. According to the IFC, the average gross merchandise value (GMV) of Filipino women declined from 106 percent of men’s businesses before the pandemic, to 79 percent of men’s during the pandemic.

Using data from e-commerce platform Lazada, more women-owned businesses have started selling on the virtual marketplace amid pandemic, increasing from the 60 percent to 66 percent.

“As new WO businesses joined the platform, the average gross merchandise value of women’s businesses dropped,” the IFC said, noting that this latest trend has to be reversed to ensure that women can compete in the digital economy following the pandemic.

According to IFC, the decrease in average women’s GMV relative to men’s is consistent with an increasing body of evidence showing how COVID-19 has disproportionately and negatively impacted women entrepreneurs.

“Given the relatively high share of WO microenterprises active in Philippines, it is clear that supporting WO businesses to regain parity or surpass men’s GMV is crucial for the growth of e-commerce in the Philippines.”

IFC said there is a need to promote women’s entrepreneurship and help them overcome e-commerce challenges.

Alfonso Garcia Mora, IFC vice president for Asia and Pacific said e-commerce in Southeast Asia is thriving, citing the market has tripled in size, and it is expected to triple again.

Between 2025 and 2030, e-commerce in Southeast Asia’s is estimated to grow by more than $280 billion. This can be achieved by increasing the number of women selling on online platforms and by providing them with better training and financial support, IFC said.

The projected growth of e-commerce could be even higher if the country will invest in women entrepreneurs on e-commerce platforms, Mora said.

Current women entrepreneurs in the Philippines were particularly reliant on personal savings and were less likely to have received a formal loan or external financing from investors, the IFC report said.

For this reason, IFC suggested several proposals for e-commerce companies to support women-owned businesses.

They include collect and tag sex-disaggregated data for sellers that will enable ongoing analysis and leverage that information to provide targeted support to women-owned businesses,

Ensure that women entrepreneurs are aware of and can access emerging fintech offerings, such as in-platform loans, to address the existing financing gaps.

Build on the early training successes by adding more materials and expanding outreach to women-owned businesses.

Finally, incentivize women sellers to use paid platform features such as product advertisements and to participate in high-value segments to ensure they can compete and succeed on the platform.