MANILA – This year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be looking for five women-led social and technology-based enterprises to receive as much as a PHP5 million grant each, an executive said Friday.

Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (PCIEERD) held a soft launching of the Women-Helping-Women: Innovating Social Enterprises (WHWise) program last March 1 and will open the call for proposals from June 1-30.

"The WHWise program seeks to reduce gender biases by offering an exclusive program for women social entrepreneurs, so they will not compete with men for early-stage funding and assistance.," PCIEERD executive director Enrico Paringit told the Philippine News Agency in an interview on Friday.

Specifically, those who can avail of the program are women-led social enterprises that help or organize communities by providing sources of income, livelihood opportunities, and education; and women-led technology-based enterprises that require technology to carry out their operations efficiently, he said.

Paringit said PCIEERD has observed that social enterprises led by women are more attuned to the needs of communities. "So it has become the mission of this program to help these women succeed, so we can help feed more communities."

Mentorship from fellow women business advisers, technology assistance from PCIEERD's network of women scientists will also be provided through this program to better empower women entrepreneurs.

The DOST-PCIEERD will find partners and will determine the right assistance needed by the women entrepreneurs to succeed. This is also one of the reasons why PCIEERD is opening this call for women-focused organizations who would be interested to partner with the age to pitch-in the needed resources, mentorship, network, guidance, and training, Paringit said.

PCIEERD shall match these resources with the funding for technology sourcing, technology improvement, training, business assistance, and incubation.

The executive said the pilot program will provide assistance to five women entrepreneurs this year, but he hopes this will increase to at least 10 every year.

"We shall determine the specific needs of our women-led enterprises. A ceiling of PHP 5 million grant for each selected enterprise shall be provided, but a higher funding may be justified if needed," he said.

Paringit said call conferences will be held in April and May to explain the requirements, benefits, and mechanics of the program to interested women entrepreneurs. PCIEERD is also finalizing partnerships with different women-focused organizations that are willing to pitch-in resources and talent to further expand the services under the program. (PNA)