QBO Innovation Hub recently partnered with Investing in Women, an Australian Government initiative that promotes women’s economic empowerment in South East Asia, to expand the Startup Pinay, a startup innovation platform that narrows the gender gap in the tech industry by fostering a community of female-led tech startups through funding, mentorship, and exposure. 

“The growth potential of the tech industry presents opportunities for women in tech as founders, leaders, and employees. It can lead to a more equitable distribution of the benefits in this area,” said Sheona McKenna, Counsellor of the Australian Embassy. “Women founders are more likely to address pressing issues that women face. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.” 

The three-year partnership between Investing in Women and QBO aims to improve workplace gender equality, and access to growth capital for women-owned and women-led enterprises in the country.

Created in 2019, Startup Pinay organizes events such as the She Loves Tech pitching competition and the idea validation course Bootqamp. The platform also creates ecosystem maps in key cities that identify co-working spaces, major industry players, and resources that are available specifically to support women founders. 

Startup Pinay’s upcoming initiatives fall under three core actions: exposure, network, and capacity building. They include sponsored participation in local and international, community meetups, and mentorship. 

“Pinays have had an indelible impact on social and economic spheres, and through our campaigns, we hope to inspire and continue to support the next generation of female leaders,” said QBO director Katrina Rausa Chan at a recent virtual brunch celebrating the program’s launch. 

Panelists agreed on the importance of building supportive communities and having role models. “When women in the audience see women on stage, they become more comfortable with that idea,” said Minette B. Navarrete, president of Kickstart Ventures. “Nobody was born knowing everything. Everything’s learned.”

Cathy Yap-Yang, PLDT’s head of corporate communications, advised seeking mentors by doing one’s best to get noticed and found by a mentor. She also advised being a mentor. “My best advice is to find a woman who’s come behind you— someone who’s getting started—and mentor her. It’s never too late to be a mentor. Your experience might be valuable to someone.” — Patricia B. Mirasol