THE World Bank said entrepreneurship is becoming a more viable route to economic recovery and growth with the rise of e-commerce, which is giving sellers broader market reach no matter their size.

“To drive innovation and job creation, make the environment for entrepreneurship more supportive. The pandemic accelerated the pace of digitalization, expanding both the volume and the reach of e-commerce and digital services,” the bank said in a report.

“This opens up a valuable opportunity for the growth of new enterprises and could be useful in helping raise women’s participation in the labor force. Hence, policies that encourage female entrepreneurship, such as facilitating credit access and business development programs, can also help close the gender gap for poor women,” it added.

According to the report, the Philippines has made progress in poverty reduction and income growth, though inequality remains persistent.

“Driven by high growth rates and structural transformation, between 1985 and 2018 poverty fell by two-thirds. By 2018, the middle class had expanded to cover nearly 12 million people and the economically secure encompassed 44 million,” the report read.

“However, although the decline in poverty accelerated between 2012 and 2018, income inequality remains high, with the top 1% of earners capturing 17% of national income and the bottom 50% collectively earning only 14%,” it added.

It added that the pandemic triggered a significant shift in the workforce toward less productive sectors and occupations. “These trends have been concentrated among youth and the workers with the lowest levels of education; this suggests that recovery will be uneven and income.”

“The Philippines can leverage the crisis generated by the pandemic to promote necessary reforms to support skills development and promote inclusive recovery,” the World Bank reported.

It recommended increasing the booster vaccine uptake, training programs to reskill and upskill workers, and supporting entrepreneurship to drive innovation and job creation.

It also recommended closing the quality gap in tertiary education to narrow the skills disparity in poor students and raising the productivity of agriculture.

The report said that the government must leverage technology to streamline the process of opening and operating new enterprises to help steer employment generation to highly productive sectors.

“Policies should aim to support skills development, promote inclusive recovery, foster an environment that encourages entrepreneurship, promote inclusive structural transformation, and encourage the growth of high-productivity sectors,” it added. — Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson