Women's entrepreneurship development

Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19

The Rebuilding Better project, supported by JPMorgan Chase Foundation, aims to support women entrepreneurs in Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt more sustainable and resilient business models by strengthening their access to vital support services.


In Southeast Asia, women-owned businesses often lag behind male-owned businesses in terms of size, productivity and profitability. The proportion of formal businesses with female majority ownership in project countries ranges from 10.4 per cent in Malaysia, 31.5 per cent in the Philippines to 33.4 per cent in Thailand . However, women entrepreneurs tend to be operating in the most disadvantaged sectors or in the lower ends of value chains where they concentrate on a limited number of activities with little opportunity for value-add and business growth.

Enabling women entrepreneurs’ meaningful participation in gender-sensitive entrepreneurship ecosystems has proven multiplier effects on decent employment, poverty eradication and economic growth. Supporting women entrepreneurs is therefore vital for ensuring continued inclusive, resilient and sustainable development in the countries targeted by the project.

As women entrepreneurs in general are less resilient to the impact of adverse economic shocks, ensuring their access to critical support services will be important for ensuring their stabilization and recovery post-COVID-19. This includes taking immediate actions to ensure business continuity as well as assistance to re-activate business activity and build long-term resilience. Women entrepreneurs have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing measures, lock-downs and distorted supply chains and markets have exacerbated structural inequities and challenges that typically impede the performance and growth of women-owned businesses, and resulted in many temporarily or permanently closing down operations.

Objectives and key activities

The Rebuilding Better project aims to provide support for women entrepreneurs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and adopt more sustainable and resilient business models. The project is targeting at least 60 per pent women-owned small businesses in the manufacturing, service and retail trade sectors in urban areas in Thailand, Malaysia, and Philippines, which all have seen a severe decline in economic output.

Working with partners, the project delivers interventions to improve women entrepreneurs’ access to training provision, financial services and market information. Digitalization is a crosscutting component, and the project organizes virtual activities to ensure safe support during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as assists support women entrepreneurs to increase their online presence and apply digital technology.

The project objectives will be achieved through the delivery of the following three outputs:

Output 1.1. Training and other support to build business and financial management skills, enhance financial literacy, and promote digitalization delivered
  • Conduct assessment to determine business needs in collaboration with partners
  • Develop training curriculum and training provision implementation strategy for each country Identify network of training providers and deliver capacity-building workshops
  • Adjust and translate gender-sensitive training materials that respond to needs of women entrepreneurs
  • Deliver training and support services to women entrepreneurs
  • Monitor and document results and impact of service delivery
Output 1.2. Information about financial services shared and assistance with applications for financial support provided
  • Map financial services and support packages available to women entrepreneurs targeted by the project
  • Promote available financial services through relevant actors and make information more available to women entrepreneurs
  • Deliver support to ensure readiness to apply for financial services and support packages with a particular focus on addressing constraints hindering women-owned businesses
Output 1.3. Information about new and existing market opportunities delivered
  • Assist relevant partners in disseminating market information on a continuous basis, including the promotion of online business models
  • Organize virtual and/or physical dialogues and networking events to strengthen partnerships and collaboration
  • Organize webinars and other events to disseminate market information and provide support for women entrepreneurs to expand to new markets
With these projected results, the Rebuilding Better project aims for small women-owned businesses to stabilize and recover from COVID-19 and adopt more sustainable and resilient business models. The project also aims to contribute to an inclusive and enabling environment for enterprises in targeted countries. Over time, this will support the economic recovery of targeted countries from COVID-19 and to the generation of decent employment opportunities.

For further information please contact:

Ms Sara Andersson
Project Technical Officer
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Email: andersson@ilo.org

Ms Karnmanee Thanesvorakul
National Project Coordinator (Thailand)
ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Email: thanesvorakul@ilo.org

Ms Linartes Viloria
National Project Coordinator (Philippines)
ILO Country Office for the Philippines
Email: viloria@ilo.org

Ms Amira K. Ikmal
National Project Coordinator (Malaysia)
Email: ikmal@ilo.org