The 2023 Women-Helping-Women: Innovative Social Enterprises (WHWise) National Innovation Challenge - The Search for Innovative Entrepreneurs in the Regions of the Department of Science and Technology - Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD), showcased the exceptional talent and innovation of women-led social enterprises from across the Philippines. The program aimed to recognize and support women entrepreneurs who are driving economic growth and sustainable development in their communities, June 23-27, Bellevue Hotel, Alabang. 

A total of 45 social entrepreneurs presented their stories and entrepreneurial journeys during the pitching sessions on June 23-24. These enterprises were carefully screened and nominated by the DOST Regional Offices from Regions I, Cordillera Administrative Region, National Capital Region, MIMAROPA, VIII, IX, X, XI, and CARAGA. 

During the event, Dr. Enrico C. Paringit, the Executive Director of DOST-PCIEERD, emphasized the importance of empowering women for both social justice and economic growth. He stated, "At DOST-PCIEERD, we believe that empowering women is not just an imperative for social justice, but also a driver of economic growth and sustainable development. Through our S&T interventions, including the WHWise Program, we strive to foster wealth creation, protect our natural resources, ensure human well-being, and promote sustainability."

Ms. Russell Pili, Program Manager of the Women-Helping-Women: Innovating Social Enterprises Program of the DOST-PCIEERD, emphasized during the event that the regional search is the effort of the council in widening the reach of the WHWise Program to find women in the countryside worth supporting through the program. She stated that “That the first 15 women entrepreneurs supported by the WHWise was still short of the targets that we envisioned for the program which aims to support at least 10 women-led social enterprises yearly. The Regional Search is our way of expanding our search to more regions in the Philippines to look for women entrepreneurs that really need the help”.

The national innovation challenge resulted in the selection of the top 20 women-led social enterprises that impressed the judges with their innovative ideas and impactful initiatives. These enterprises will be invited to submit proposals for the 2024 call, providing them with an opportunity to receive further support and funding for their ventures.

The list of winners includes:

  • Leah F. Yu of Liana's Food Products Manufacturing from Region IX, focusing on expanding chocolate production and branding in Zamboanga del Sur.
  • Paula Nikole Q. Prado of Iconik Travel Services from MIMAROPA, aiming to showcase the world's best island through visual and culinary experiences.
  • Sharon Q. Abdon of Cnellej Souvenir Shop from MIMAROPA, transforming a native plant into functional products with intricate designs.
  • Teodula Forones of Mother Crucifix Caputo Academy Inc. from Region VIII, specializing in sustainable and responsible food production.
  • Romae Chanice B. Marquez of Hibla Textile Fabrics Wholesaling from the National Capital Region, promoting the cultural heritage of Philippine weaves and fabrics through immersive technology.
  • Vilma E. Solilap of Mavil's House of Mushrooms from Region XI, focusing on waste utilization and mushroom strain stability research.
  • Leah Hiangan of Todoc's Special Native Delicacies from Region VIII, showcasing the diverse culinary heritage and traditions of Abuyog, Leyte.
  • Donna Marie Lecaroz of Island Harvest Agriventures from MIMAROPA, empowering farmer families through an integrated model of agriculture, technology, and tourism.
  • Iloisa R. Diga of Northern Roots Session Groceries Inc. from the Cordillera Administrative Region, providing a platform for farmers to market their produce and ensure a sustainable food supply.
  • Nenita M. Tan of Bestfriend Goodies from Region X, manufacturing Pasalubong Treats, Ready-to-Eat Food Products, and Enhanced Nutrients.
  • Anita Ogrimen of the Basey Association for Native Industry Growth (BANIG) from Region VIII, empowering weavers through training, fair compensation, and market linkages.
  • Angela E. Duldulao-Regis of Dream Wide Awake Company from the National Capital Region, promoting transparency and honor in the beverage industry.
  • Liezel Salera-Manabat of Buoyancies Business Accelerated Inc. from Region XI, supporting the growth and resilience of enterprises.
  • Camille Rose D. Albarracin of Everything Green Trading and Consulting from the National Capital Region, empowering communities through sustainable agri-waste transformation.
  • Gay S. Pia of PHD Spicy Food Corporation from Caraga, producing spicy-healthy food products while supporting local farmers.
  • Marivic B. Aguirre of Aguimangan Agro-Eco Tourism Farm from the Cordillera Administrative Region, promoting Yapayao culture through fabrics and handicrafts.
  • Melda Tumaneng of Vintar Mango Stakeholders Association Inc. from Region I, sustaining mango production and improving the socio-economic well-being of farmers.
  • Anna Paula S. Chiong of Mama Nene's Homemade Delights from Region X, championing Lumad communities through pineapple food products.
  • Jane M. Vitorillo of Kusina University Online Tutorial Services from Region XI, providing food business owners with essential skills and management training.
  • Ana Maria R. Lao of J5 Lao Organic Fertilizer Producer from Region IX, sharing vermicast-making technology with farmer organizations and students.

The success of the 2023 WHWise National Innovation Challenge, in partnership with Villgro Philippines, Bayan Innovation Group, and the Philippine Commission on Women, reflects the immense potential and creativity of women entrepreneurs in the Philippines. The selected winners have not only demonstrated their exceptional capabilities but have also presented innovative solutions that address societal challenges while promoting sustainability. As the top 20 winners move forward in their entrepreneurial journeys, they serve as an inspiration and catalyst for aspiring women entrepreneurs throughout the nation.

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