AVPN Global Conference 2023 | 20 - 22 June 2023


Advancing the Growth of Women-Led SMEs in Philippines: A Gender Lens in Policy & Investment

By Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN)


Discovery Primea, 6749 Ayala Ave, Makati, 1226 Metro Manila, Philippines


Online and Philippines

Date & time

(GMT +8)

17 May 2022



17 May 2022


About this event

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Register to join online.

With the growing recognition of how women-led SMEs contribute to the Philippines economy, stakeholders across the sectors of policy and investment have been continuing their support throughout the COVID pandemic. As we look back on which solutions worked best and how to improve as we move forward, Investing in Women and AVPN will partner to host an event convening these stakeholders. This is part of a series of events exploring this topic across the countries of Vietnam, Philippines, and Indonesia.

This hybrid event will launch the Philippines findings of a policy report supported by Investing in Women and conducted by Monash University in Australia and the Philippines Institute for Development Studies in the Philippines. The study takes stock of economic relief measures to foster SME resilience to Covid-19 and analyses the extent to which women have been involved as beneficiaries or in decision making; and the extent to which responses have met the needs of women’s SMEs. The research is intended to assist policymakers and donor agencies understand the best solutions for assisting women’s SMEs through the recovery response to Covid-19.

In addition, this event will showcase the best practices and collaborations of investors, foundations, and accelerators in advancing women’s SMEs in the Philippines.

His Excellency Steven J. Robinson AO
Australian Ambassador to the Philippines

Mr Robinson is a Deputy Secretary-level officer from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who presented his credentials to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on 15 January 2019.

Over his extensive career, Mr Robinson has developed and expanded Australia’s relationships with a broad range of countries, with a particular focus on the South East Asian region. He has served in Australia’s embassies in Jakarta, Yangon and Bangkok and has held a range of senior positions in Canberra across operational and corporate areas.

In 2009, Mr Robinson was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for service to Australia’s international interests through a significant and sustained contribution”.

Mr Robinson was born in 1959 and is married with two children.

Dr. Samanthi J. Gunawardana
Senior Lecturer in Gender and Development,
Monash University

Samanthi J. Gunawardana is a Senior Lecturer in Gender and Development in the Faculty of Arts, and a member of the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre. She is the Course Director for the Master of International Development Practice. She has a PhD in Economics and Commerce from The University of Melbourne. Samanthi’s research examines the impact of development policy on employment systems, labour, and livelihoods among women in South and South-EastAsia, with a particular emphasis on gender, development and labour in Sri Lanka.

Mr Paul John Mendoza Peña
Consultant & Research Associate, Professional Lecturer,
Philippine Institute for Development Studies, School of Economics, De La Salle University

Paul John Mendoza Peña is a consultant and research associate for the Philippine Institute for Development Studies through the De La Salle University Angelo King Institute for Economics and Business Studies. He is also concurrently a consultant to the Office of Senator Francis N. Pangilinan where he leads its digital strategy and operations. He is completing his PhD at De La Salle University where he taught corporate planning, the economics of innovation, the history of economic thought, and moral philosophy. His research interests in economics include the philosophy of economics and methodology, digital economies, human capital and development, semi and nonparametric methods, and Schumpeterian macroeconomics.

Prior to joining the academe, he dedicated his career to digital and integrated marketing, customer experience, and steering innovation in local and multinational companies. In 2017, he was cited as among the 40 Under 40 achievers in Asia-Pacific by the award-giving body CampaignAsia. In 2010, he was named among the global 10 most influential Chief Digital Officers.

Ms Marianna Vargas-Morada
Partnership Manager,
Oscar M. Lopez Center

Marianna is the Partnership Manager of Oscar M. Lopez Center, a climate change research foundation based in the Philippines, focusing primarily on enhancing local climate science and adaptation solutions. Her work as Partnerships Manager involves identifying and engaging strategic partners to expand the reach and impact of the Center’s work and designing opportunities for the Center to participate in strategic networks.

Marianna holds an undergraduate degree in Environment and Development and a Masters degree in International Relations from the University of New South Wales. She is currently completing her MBA from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, where she is focusing on the intersections of climate change and business.

Mr David Pangan
Co-Founder and Managing Partner,
inBEST Ventures

David is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of inBEST, an impact investment firm that promotes gender lens investing for women owned and led small growing businesses in the Philippines by providing tailor-fit growth investments. As one of the 2021 UN Asia-Pacific WEP Awards Youth Leadership winners, David is an advocate for gender equity, equality and empowerment.

Ms Katherine Khoo
Head of Venture Support and Partnerships,
Villgro Philippines

Kath has helped build the impact ecosystem across Southeast Asia, working closely with social innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors in various capacities. Currently Head of Venture Support and Partnerships at Villgro Philippines, she oversees investment activities and due diligence, and manages its climate and health verticals. She works to build the pipeline and ecosystem for impact investing in the Philippines, with hopes to increase the flow of risk capital available to early-stage entrepreneurs through the Impact Pioneers Network.

Prior to working with impact enterprises, Kath used to lead and organize community building and movement building initiatives with Gawad Kalinga-Ateneo and was a global youth ambassador for Thought for Food. She also has extensive experience in branding and communications, policy research, and strategic partnerships.


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