Manila Virtual Series on Democracy and Technology 3: Entrepreneurial Resilience in the Aftermath of COVID-19

5.4.2021, 9:00PM

The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in the Philippines cordially invites your participation in the third event of the series to discuss Entrepreneurial Resilience in the Aftermath of COVID-19. The Manila Virtual Series on Democracy and Technology is an opportunity to bring voices of business, government and civil society together across Asia to discuss and share opportunities and strategies for improving MSME resiliency, promoting digital literacy and “upskilling”, and ensuring entrepreneurs have the tools to thrive in the digital economy.

Manila Virtual Series on Democracy and Technology 3: Entrepreneurial Resilience in the Aftermath of COVID-19

Date: May 5, 2021 at 9am PHT/GMT+8 (May 4, 2021 at 9pm EST)

Format: 1.5-hour virtual panel discussion via Zoom, and streamed via Facebook live (to be recorded and open to the public)

Description: The COVID-19 pandemic has upended global trade, moved new sectors of business and commerce online, and threatened the survival of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) throughout Asia and the Pacific. Many business owners have had to rapidly adapt their businesses to new circumstances and leverage new technologies, platforms, and payment options in order to stay afloat. Many entrepreneurs throughout Southeast Asia began “reskilling,” “upskilling,” and finding new ways to reach their longtime customer base and identify new markets all while surviving a global health and economic disaster.

While digital transformation has been hailed by many as an ends to economic recovery and prosperity, innumerable challenges abound once businesses move online – from competing with global e-commerce giants, to addressing cybersecurity and privacy, as well as adapting to local customer needs and preferences. Going digital is a step in the right direction to prevent even greater digital and financial divides, however it is not a magic bullet. Solving the challenges posed by COVID will require years of entrepreneurial resiliency, ingenuity, and support from governments, business organizations, and beleaguered consumers.

More than a year into the global pandemic, the third webinar of this series will focus on understanding business resiliency challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs given the re-orientation of enterprise and business models as well as the adjustments with the adoption of technologies and use of online platforms in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Welcome Remarks:

Andrew Wilson is the Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in Washington, D.C. Wilson has extensive experience working with the private sector on development issues in conflict and post-conflict settings, crafting successful business strategies to reduce corruption, encouraging entrepreneurship development, strengthening business advocacy, improving corporate governance standards, and promoting economic reform. He is called on frequently to speak about the linkages between democracy and business, as well as the challenges to growth in emerging markets, including corruption and the threat of corrosive capital.


Gina Romero is the co-founder and CEO of Connected Women, a social impact tech startup that matches talented Filipino women with meaningful remote work opportunities. An unconventional entrepreneur, community builder, and technology advocate, Gina was a founding member of The Athena Network (UK) women’s business network in 2005 and went on to be the Operations Director in 2008. As part of her mission to better equip women entrepreneurs and professionals with the technology skills to scale their businesses and careers, Gina launched Connected Women (Singapore) in 2013 and the Connected Women Magazine in 2014. In 2016 she set her heart on helping Filipino women and moved to the Philippines and co-founded Connected Women Jobs. Connected Women runs a number of initiatives that provide technology skills training and online job matching and aims to impact 100,000 women in the Philippines. Theyreceived global recognition in the categories of inclusive innovation (Asia/USA), the future of work (UK), and e-employment (Switzerland). In October 2020, Gina was awarded as a Finalist of the prestigious “Asia CEO Awards’ in the Shero of the Year category.

Wek De Guzman is the Founder and CEO of SocialFilo, a digital marketing agency with offices in the Philippines and in Australia. Wek and his team in SocialFilo help small to enterprise-level clients achieve meaningful brand conversations across digital channels. Before founding SocialFilo, he directed social media teams of a global advertising firm handling key accounts such as McDonald’s and Samsung. He was also a Partner in a digital agency focusing on Salesforce Marketing Cloud, where he spearheaded teams managing key accounts such as MERALCO, SMART, and TV5. After a successful career in the advertising and marketing industry, Wek ventured into entrepreneurship, founding SocialFilo. Wek completed his Entrepreneurship diploma course at London Business School. He is an advocate of mental wellness, gender equality and is currently trying to learn golf during his free time.

Rachel Chang is the Founder and CEO of Kairos International Marketing Group which was established in 2017 and has offices in Taipei and Shanghai. Rachel has expertise in cross-border e-commerce consulting and integrated marketing services in Asia. Her company has its own on-line stores on Alibaba/Taobao, Lazada, Shopee and other platforms in Asia. In addition to brand customers, her company also assisted Kaohsiung City, Kinmen County Government of Taiwan to establish their online cross-border e-commerce platforms in 2018-2020. Rachel has been a marketing executive in Shanghai, China for nearly 10 years and was involved in the listing of start-up brands, Sino-US joint ventures, and the national practice of traditional food retail layout. After returning to Taiwan in 2017, she founded Kellogg’s Creative Marketing Company and served as CEO. She holds a Bachelor of Laws in Diplomacy from the School of International Relations, National Chengchi University, Taiwan. She also studied at Nordic Norwegian School of Management.

T.M. Zakir Sjakur Machmud serves as director of Small and Medium Enterprise Center, Faculty of Economics & Business University of Indonesia (UKMC FEBUI) where he spearheads various researches and programs related to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), Applied Microeconomics, Industrial Organization, Competition Economics, Macroeconomics and International Economics. He also serves as Executive Director of University Network for Indonesia Export (UNIED). Previously, he served as Advisor (Staf Khusus) to the Minister of Industry, and Senior Advisor to Scientific Director of Jameel Poverty Action Lab Southeast Asia. Some of his work on SME development include: Small and Medium Enterprises in Regional Production Networks: An Indonesian Case, ERIA 2009; and, Small and Medium Enterprise Access to Finance: Indonesian Case Study, ERIA 2010. He received his Ph.D. from the University of South Australia, Master in Economics from University of Adelaide, Post Graduate Diploma in Economics from the University of Melbourne, and B.A. in Economics from the University of Indonesia.


Srujana Penumetcha is a Program Officer at Center for International Private Enterprise’s (CIPE) representative office in the Philippines, where she supports the implementation of a portfolio of projects related to women’s economic empowerment, digital economy, freedom of information, gender diversity and inclusion, anti-corruption and governance. She previously served as the Knowledge Management Officer on the Policy and Program Learning team at CIPE, where she focused on capturing and sharing lessons, resources, and best practices from CIPE’s programs around the world. She has worked on cross-regional women’s empowerment programs through the Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) global management consortium, which aims to advance the status of women and girls through cross-cutting interventions that advance the women, peace, and security agenda. She holds a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University, with a concentration in International Policy and Development, and a B.S. in International Relations and Politics from Carnegie Mellon University.

Launching of CIPE training course on “How to Create an Enabling Environment for the Digital Economy”:

Louisa Tomar is a Global Program Officer at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) overseeing cross-regional programs on digital economy policy, women’s economic empowerment, the intersection of democracy and technology. Prior to joining CIPE, Louisa consulted for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) where she co-authored a policy guide on the use of big data to improve public service delivery in Latin America and the Caribbean. She spent her early career in microfinance and financial inclusion, working on regulatory analysis, risk management and compliance at FINCA International, Inc. She holds a master’s degree in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. Louisa is also fluent in Spanish.

Closing Remarks

Ryan Evangelista is the Philippines Country Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). He has more than two decades of professional experience as development and specialist, and chamber of commerce executive. Ryan serves as chairperson of the PCCI Corporate Governance Committee, a trainer at the ITC-SME and Trade Academy in Geneva, and faculty member of the joint ISA-University of Asia and Pacific Young Leadership Program. Previously, he served as consultant at IFC-World Bank, USAID, ASEAN Secretariat and ERIA as well as executive director of the Australian-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, economic growth specialist at USAID/Philippines, and senior deputy secretary general of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Ryan’s expertise include trade promotion organization and business association strengthening, stakeholder engagement, business advocacy, public governance, and international trade policy. He obtained his MA in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy-Tufts University, in Boston, Massachusetts, and BS in Business Economics from De La Salle University-Dasmarinas. Ryan was recognized by Development Executives (Devex) as one of Manila’s 40 most influential international development leaders under the age of 40.