Losing a job or getting a salary cut is stressful as revealed in the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from May 4 to 10, 2020 from among 4,010 respondents. Nine in 10 Filipinos were stressed because of the coronavirus crisis. Stress was higher among those who lost their jobs because of the outbreak or those whose salaries were cut. Those under “great stress” were in a no-work and no-pay situation (58 percent) while 57 percent of those who “currently do not have a job but used to have one” have experienced the same.
To address unemployment or underemployment, solutions to look at are reskilling and upskilling opportunities, starting a new business, or doing both. Three decades ago, I made excuses that entrepreneurship was not for me. The irony was I advised small and medium enterprises on the technical aspect of running a business. I was scared to start a business.
Exposure to courses in starting a business as part of my work at the University of the Philippines’ Institute for Small-Scale Industries in the early ‘80s planted the seed of entrepreneurship. I eventually ended up in digital agribusiness. Agriculture and brick and mortar businesses would need to transition to digital. Even tech giant Facebook already has a 10-year plan in place to move its workforce to work remotely. Twitter and Google are also embracing this recent trend, considering the coronavirus pandemic. More companies would follow suit. Now is the time to learn new skills or be open to opportunities to start a business or enhance digital skills.
One opportunity to consider the #WomenRiseAboveCovid series that empowers Filipina-led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) transition to digital. They will hold the first two events on July 8 and July 15, 2020 and will be part of the Connected Women global meet up. The European Union-United Nations Women and Connected Women partnered together to help more business transition through the program “WeEmpowerAsia.” This partnership will champion business enhancement, transformation with digital platform skills for women entrepreneurs. To be economically empowered during and beyond the pandemic is the goal. The series of talks and panel discussions will include:
– Offline to online business transition
– Learn and maximize digital platforms for MSMEs
– Open up networking and business opportunities
– Teaching and refining IT skills for women
– Tapping online work opportunities.
The partnership also enables Connected Women to reach out to more women running their own MSMEs. Gina Romero, Connected Women founder, said women entrepreneurs would find the series of talks helpful such as those who need to transition their brick and mortar businesses online and become digital marketing savvy. Romero also said that this applies to startups and women who feel that they are not in a stable place at work and wish to build their own businesses.
Connected Women’s answer to its community’s clamor to become more prepared for the “new normal” lies in its series of workshops that extends till November. The lockdown affected thousands of members of the Connected Women community, such as those in travel and tourism. Romero explained that the online job market can have the capacity to employ these women, which is why the programs focus on digital upskilling and digital marketing, such as:
– Artificial intelligence data labeling. This market is expected to hit $1.6 billion by 2025. It includes jobs that need humans to do — tagging, classifying, moderating and processing of images for artificial intelligence or AI.
– Executive virtual assistant. Customer service, data entry and internet research, which could be done remotely, are often needed by big businesses. The Philippines is the sixth fastest-growing freelance market, just behind the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.
– Remote officers, specialists, agents. This involves transitioning office-based teams to remote teams. And there is evidence supporting that this could be a new trend.
UN Women’s Ma. Rosalyn Mesina, “WeEmpowerAsia” Philippines Country Program manager, is happy to provide more opportunities for Filipino women to take part in more structured discussions when it comes to transitioning women-led and women-owned enterprises from offline businesses to online businesses. Grab the opportunity to learn. To keep updated with these workshops and talks, follow the Connected Women Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/weareconnectedwomen/ for more information.