Cacao the focus of third Startup Weekend Women

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DAVAO CITY — A conference for female entrepreneurs is focusing on identifying and addressing gaps in the production of cacao and its by-products with the aid of technology.

The Startup Weekend Women, now on its third staging, will hold on Sept. 20–22 while pre-event “ideation” session is set for Sept. 9.

Mary Rose P. Ofianga, coordinator of the University of Southeastern Philippines-Advancing Great Ideas Lab Technology Based-Incubator and among the organizers, said cacao is considered “one of the hottest fields of agriculture.”

Apart from the female participants, industry stakeholders will also be attending to discuss challenges “while innovators conceptualize innovative business models to solve these challenges,” she said.

Ms. Ofianga also noted that there is a lot of opportunity for women in the cacao sector considering that micro, small and medium enterprises in the city have been thriving and winning awards for their products.

Lizabel G. Holganza, founding member of the Cacao City Marketing Cooperative and former president of Information and Communications Technology-Davao, said there is a need to integrate technology into the industry.

“We need to tap modern technology both in marketing and in production to ensure that we can maximize production of our farms as well as access the best prices for our produce,” Ms. Holganza told BusinessWorld.

Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, in a recent visit to Davao, said his department will also be helping expand cacao production in the region.

He said, “We (will) look for some potential areas where we can expand the cacao industry because the market is open.” — Carmelito Q. Francisco