Filipino women dominate sari-sari store ownership, boost local economy
MANILA, Philippines–A new study has revealed that the Philippine economy is driven by a powerful group of entrepreneurs – women.
Using data from Packworks’ business intelligence tool Sari IQ, Packworks and Fourth Wall found that women owned 75% of the thousands of sari-sari stores surveyed.
Meanwhile, just 20% were predominated by men, while 5% were left unspecified.
Sari-sari stores are small retail shops selling a wide range of consumer goods, from food and beverages to household items, commonly found in residential areas across the Philippines.
Andres Montiel, Pacworks’ head of data, highlights the significant role of women in the grassroots economy of the Philippines.
“The high percentage of sari-sari store ownership by women shows that Filipinas virtually control much of the local economy,” he said.
Montiel said that women’s domination of sari-sari store ownership puts them in a position to make a difference in the country’s economic life, as around 70 percent of manufactured goods are transacted in sari-sari stores.
However, the study also notes that women’s labor participation in some industries is still low, and institutions must empower women by boosting skills training initiatives to ensure they can participate fully in the country’s economic growth.
John Brylle Bae, Fourth Wall’s research director, explains that the primary reason for women’s domination of sari-sari stores lies in their very origin and nature.
“Families set up sari-sari stores to augment the resources of the household. Thus, sari-sari stores are always intertwined with the needs of the home,” he said.
“In the Filipino context, the role of the nanay [mother] is to manage the home, including addressing and managing the household’s needs,” Bae said.
The sociocultural context of the Philippines also contributes to this phenomenon, according to Bae.
Women have been associated with household management since the colonial era, and this role extends to sari-sari stores. Spanish colonization and Western cultural influences redefined the role of women from powerful religious-political figures in the community (babaylans or priestesses) to nurturers of the home.
The data from the study provides insights into the significant role of women in the grassroots economy of the Philippines and the importance of empowering women to participate fully in the country’s economic growth.
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