Women at Work Today in the New Normal 

SM recently held “Women at Work”, a free webinar for women entrepreneurs.

Women at Work Today in the New Normal 

CHELO MONATERO, President, The SM Store
“SM is a company operated and led by women for women.”

The event, which was held over two days (March 11 and 12) is the first webinar to take a complete and holistic approach to a very real problem: “How can I start and grow a business in the middle of a pandemic?”  Part of the panel invited to lend their knowledge and expertise included successful entrepreneurs and experts from multiple sectors of society:  finance, retail, government, and NGOs.


The invited speakers talked about the importance of self-mastery, a skill that many entrepreneurs feel is important to learn in these uncertain economic times.

“You have to take ownership of your life. Who do you want to be, where do you want to be, and what choices can you make to move forward?” said GINA KATIGBAK, a life coach and SM Supermall’s AVP for Leasing Strategy & Operations. She gave tips on how to own your power, find calm and create a roadmap for success.

Founder, Connected Women
“Sometimes when you feel a strong calling to do something right now, you just have to act on it.”

GINA ROMERO, Co-founder of Connected Women, reminded entrepreneurs that the world’s biggest businesses had humble or challenging beginnings. She shared how to get the help you need—technology, partners, community—to overcome obstacles.

Successful entrepreneurs like JAMM SAN JUAN of Frankie and Friends General Store and FELICIA ATIENZA of the Chinese International School talked about how to survive and even thrive in a changing landscape: pivot your marketing, build a strong financial foundation, understand your customer and more.

SM’s top executives also shared important retail industry trends. SM Supermalls vice president Gino Borromeo talked about new shopping behaviors and the rise of the “new essentials” or what people are willing to buy.  The SM Store senior vice president Aldwin Co shared consumer categories that are growing, and how to sell to the new online shopper. He illustrated this approach by talking about what The SM Store has done, like digital catalogs, Click and Collect, Call to Deliver, Shop SM and a lot more.

CEO, Frankie & Friends
“Passion is a result of compassion”


For small entrepreneurs who need capital to start or grow their business, KAREN CUA—who is the senior vice president and group head of BDO Network Bank’s MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) division—talked about how the financial tools available for women entrepreneurs.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) undersecretary BLESILA LANTAYONA also shared some free resources that women entrepreneurs can access from their local DTI office, from roving academies to shared service facilities like processing equipment.

Philippine Commission of Women (PCW) chairperson Sandra Montano, and WeEmpowerAsia country programme manager ROSALYN MESINA also graced the event and talked about how companies and communities can work together to support women entrepreneurs.

FELY ATIENZA CEO, Chinese International School Manila “Being a girl boss is all about believing in yourself, having that confidence to say I can achieve this.”

“Women empowerment benefits women, business and economy. A diverse workforce drives innovation and market growth, and builds trust and credibility with employees and stakeholders,” said Rosalyn Mesina.

Mesina adds that women need support—not just through promotions or financing for business, but help with the roles they’re expected to fulfill at home. Ideally, they should not feel pressured to “do it all” or have to give up one for the other. Families, communities and companies can all do their part to ease the burden, share the responsibility, and create a work-life balance.

“Women at Work” is a joint effort by SM and its advocacy partners, UN Women, Department of Trade and Industries, Philippine Commission on Women, Connected Women, and BDO Network Bank.

Life Coach, Asst. Vice President, SM Supermalls
“Refrain your limiting beliefs and ultimately create your breakthroughs in life.”

“SM’s affinity to SMEs comes naturally. SM started as a small shoe store in downtown Manila. We are an SME by heart and since SM started, we’ve worked closely with small businesses. Today SM is a community of 90,000 SMEs, from farming to artisan communities, from local manufacturers to shop owners, from food kiosks to restaurant owners,” said Chelo Monasterio, President of The SM Store in the webinar’s opening keynote address.

“While we made a lot of progress in the past years in supporting women and SMEs, the pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges. SM for SMEs learning series hopes to help our partner tenants, suppliers and other entrepreneurs navigate and find opportunities amidst these challenges.”

Chito Manalo, president of SM Retail, shared that the event is part of the company’s commitment to empowering Filipina entrepreneurs. “We are grateful our business is in a unique position to provide livelihood and growth opportunities for women,”

The webinar was hosted by award-winning journalist and women’s advocate Karen Davila, and vlogger and entrepreneur Mica Davila.

For more information about SM events, news and advocacies, go to

KAREN CUA, Sr. Vice President, BDO Network Bank, 

“We know that business urgently need a financial boost during these times and BDO Network Bank is ready to assist.”

Written by Village Connect

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As a print and digital publication, VC strives to provide readers an insightful glimpse into the ever-changing business landscape through relevant dialogue and inclusive coverage of trending news, information, and lifestyle tidbits within (and outside) the metropolis.

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