The Philippine Consulate General of Macau honored female entrepreneurs in the region on Sunday, in celebration of International Women’s Day.
In the Philippines, honoring women is celebrated throughout the month of March.
In collaboration with the Consulate’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and Caritas Macau, Sunday’s program not only featured success stories of Filipina business owners but offered a variety of activities, such as pampering services, health check-ups and Filipino migrant worker-related services.
Philippine Consul General Lilybeth Deapera hoped that the stories would inspire the Filipino community to aspire to higher goals.
“I hope that by honoring them we are able to focus that they are here, and hopefully they will be an inspiration to the other members of the community, especially to the women,” she said.
Two of the seven recipients of the Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Awards started in the region as domestic helpers.
Deapera expressed her hope that the stories shared at the event would encourage Filipino workers in the region to change careers, start a business or explore other paths.
Susan Cenon, an accountant in the region for more than a decade, resigned from her job and launched a stationery and souvenir business back in 2009.
Sharing her story with the Times, Cenon said that her fixed deposits in three local banks earned a meager interest at first, which was disappointing.
“The bank was earning but I wasn’t […] so I decided to quit my job and took the risk,” she said.
Cenon is currently managing her trading firm “Kara Mart Convenience Store” and a salon, “Kara Salon.”
The entrepreneur also shared that she had difficulties acquiring work permits for her employees, saying their quota applications had been rejected twice.
“I can hire Chinese people but the mere fact that their boss will be Filipino, I think they’ll be afraid because of the language barrier,” she said.
Cenon added that Macau ID holders tend to request higher salaries.
Meanwhile, she is planning to launch another branch of her salon.
“There will always be challenges but proper planning and feasibility studies will make [one] succeed. Before I start up with something, my husband and I always sit, take notes and plan.”
To aspiring Filipina entrepreneurs, Cenon advised, “Don’t be afraid and follow your dreams. There is no problem in launching a business but one must know how to handle situations. Purchasing goods in Macau is not that easy.”
The entrepreneur encouraged Filipino immigrants to save money whilst working in the territory, so that they can start a business upon returning home.
“You will not be here all the time, so you should save money and start something while you have the chance,” Cenon advised.
The consulate and POLO have been co-organizing a ‘Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Program’ for Filipino migrant workers in Macau.
The program, which is currently in its 50th batch, includes leadership skills training and financial literacy seminars.
Deapera said several participants have launched businesses back home, and some have chosen to stay in the Philippines while remotely managing businesses in Macau.
“The most basic [and important] thing is that they were already given the basics of financial literacy. They already have the idea of the proper way of saving and what should be their priorities,” she added.