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3 women social entrepreneurs who are making taxes less taxing for changemakers

Ashoka Philippines


3 women social entrepreneurs who are making taxes less taxing for changemakers

Tricia Aquino interviews 3 alumnae of Ashoka's DIWA program in "A Better Normal"

Trix Casillan (PumaPodcast)

Many Filipinos know that burning feeling of wanting to do something as the country continues to be beset with complex and interconnected problems. For those who have had the courage to initiate solutions through social enterprises, they quickly realize how demoralizing red tape, taxes, and penalties can be. The weight of worrying about the bureaucracy can snuff out even the brightest sparks of inspiration. Some may even call dealing with these processes worse than securing a stool sample!

This is how Episode 14 of the podcast “A Better Normal” published by PumaPodcast humorously opens. Hosted and produced by Patricia “Tricia” Aquino, the episode explores how three women social entrepreneurs are helping entrepreneurs, freelancers, and organizations stay on top of their accounting needs so they can focus on their social impact.

Tricia is one of the Filipino Media Fellows of the DIWA (Deepening Impact of Women Activators) partnership between Ashoka Southeast Asia and S&P Global Foundation.

Women social entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia, like the ones interviewed in the podcast, are paving the way for inclusive economies and empowered communities. However, oftentimes their stories do not reach mainstream attention which can lead to missed opportunities to create awareness around their advocacies, to amplify their impact through partnerships and support, and to enable them to co-lead nationwide movements.

Through the DIWA Media Fellowship, journalists and media practitioners connect with women social entrepreneurs who have participated in the DIWA capacity-building program and are given support to produce stories that put these women and their inspiring work front and center.

The three alumnae of the DIWA capacity-building program featured in the podcast episode aptly titled “Can are Pauline Santos, Gina Lynn Valdez, and Ginger Arboleda who all belong to the pioneer batch.

Pauline Santos is a Partner at ATBP Co., an accounting firm that services social enterprises. ATBP is a Filipino abbreviation for at iba pa, the local equivalent of etcetera. With the many functions of entrepreneurs, important tasks like bookkeeping and tax filing tend to be set aside as “atbp”, leading to costly business mistakes. ATBP addresses the problem by offering quality services at reasonable costs.

Pauline’s headshot for the pioneer DIWA capacity-building program in 2020.

Gina Lynn Valdez supports Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with their accounting and human resources needs.  Her work with fellow remote consultants at Numbers That Matter provides social enterprises with tailor-fitted solutions to simultaneously grow the business and scale social impact.

Gina’s headshot for the pioneer DIWA capacity-building program in 2020.

As a serial entrepreneur, Ginger Arboleda has personally experienced how unnecessarily complicated and mundanely taxing manual taxes can be, thus the birth of Taxumo. Taxumo’s software automates tax computation, filing, and payment, allowing its user base of small businesses and professionals to focus on more important decisions.

Ginger’s headshot for the pioneer DIWA capacity-building program in 2020.

Throughout the podcast, Tricia has a conversation with the three women social entrepreneurs to surface burning questions such as: Why and how did they establish their enterprises? What are their offered solutions to red tape and complicated tax processes? Why have they chosen to help other entrepreneurs?  

Just like any entrepreneur they work with, Ginger, Gina Lynn, and Pauline experience their own obstacles. The COVID-19 pandemic led them to reflect even more on these hurdles and drove them to join the DIWA capacity-building program.

Chief among their takeaways from the engagement is community.

“[T]o have that network na maririnig mo na you have the same challenges but yet they’re still doing things, they’re still continuing. Nakakainspire na may ganun, may ganun pa rin. It actually helped me to move forward with NTMI (Numbers That Matter),” says Gina Lynn.

(“To hear that you have the same challenges with those in your network but yet they’re still doing things, they’re still continuing — that’s really inspiring. It actually helped me to move forward with NTMI.)

Ginger echoes this sentiment. “[K]nowing that you are not alone in this kind of situation is comforting; knowing that all of you want to succeed in the end and want to help each other succeed in the end is nice. It’s not just about earning money but it’s about like, ‘What’s your contribution?’”

Pauline, who did not study in business school, appreciated the foundational basics taught in DIWA, especially the business model canvas. She also ends with a mention of appreciation for the community built by the program.

“Iba pa rin talaga yung meron kang community na masasandalan.”

(“Having a community you can depend on really makes a difference.”)   

Don’t miss out on the rest of the conversation. Listen to the podcast now!

Keep your eye on the DIWA Media Fellowship stories here: https://diwa.ashoka.org/stories

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