Social entrepreneur spurs women economic empowerment



The spirit of entrepreneurship is in every woman, and this is a spirit that can't be extinguished. These words ring true coming from accomplished social entrepreneur Ms. Pacita "Chit" Juan, who's  keeping this spirit alive and well in other women.


The motivation of a woman to provide not just for herself, but for her family is what makes women go into business, explains Ms. Juan, a renowned women empowerment advocate, social entrepreneur, and founder of Binalot Fiesta Foods Inc., and coffee chain Figaro Coffee Company.


"Women will always be starting a new concept or business idea, even home-based businesses because they're always thinking of bringing money to the table for food, and  education. That's a phenomenon, globally," said Ms. Juan in an interview.


This is a fact recognised well enough by Ms. Juan, who now concentrates her efforts on ECHOStore, a sustainable and organic lifestyle store.


This store  serves as the retail end of ECHOsi Foundation  her main vehicle in championing women economic empowerment.


ECHOsi - Empowering Communities with Hope and Opportunities through Sustainable Initiatives - is the bedrock of Ms. Juan's advocacy for women groups and cultural communities.


ECHOsi Foundation initiate development programs for women groups and marginalised communities, to enable them  to participate in the production and value chain of a social enterprise or an inclusive business.


These development programs, in supporting a green and sustainable products, also enliven local crafts and industries such as weaving and coffee-growing.


ECHOsi Foundation hit the ground running since its start in 2012; In less than seven years, it notched a key partnership with Philippine Commission on Women . ECHOsi Foundation, led by the  PCW rolled out the GREAT Women Project (Phase I) that assisted 7,331 women micro entrepreneurs (WMEs) in 204 groups across 45 local government units, giving them increased access to public and private sector programs and services thus expanding their market access opportunities.


The success of the micro-entrepreneurship program led to the launch of the GREAT Women brand , by ECHOsi Foundation, PCW, and other national agencies and local government units.  The program was recognised by none other than Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as the Canadian International Development Agency financially supports the program.


Given the significant strides ECHOsi Foundation has made in the name of women economic empowerment, and the many women now looking to it for support, Ms. Juan sought to keep the good name of the movement intact: It  acquired trademark protection.


Ms. Juan applied for and acquired trademark protection not just for ECHOStore, but for the two other concepts under it: ECHOmarket and ECHOcafe.


"The mark is just a mark until you breathe life into it; that means standing up for something, a cause, a mission, and values. After imbuing it with life, protecting the brand is paramount, to keep the brand's integrity and make sure we represent what people associate us with," Ms. Juan stressed.