27 March 2023, Manila, Philippines – A study conducted by Packworks, in partnership with Fourth Wall, has brought to light the prevalence of women’s ownership of sari-sari stores in the Philippines. Based on the data obtained from Sari IQ, Packworks’ business intelligence tool, 75% of the thousands of sari-sari stores analyzed are owned by women.
The report also identified that only 20%, are male-dominated, and 5%, are unknown.
Sari-sari stores are small retail shops commonly found in residential areas across the Philippines, selling a wide range of consumer goods, from food and beverages to household items.
Andres Montiel, Pacworks’ Head of Data, highlights the significant role of women in the grassroots economy of the Philippines. “The high percentage of sari-sari store ownership by women shows that Filipinas virtually control much of the local economy,” he said.
Since about 70% of manufactured goods are transacted in sari-sari stores, women’s domination of sari-sari store ownership puts them in a position to make a difference in the country’s economic life. However, economic sectors must open their doors to women, as women’s labor participation in some industries is still low. Institutions must also empower women by boosting skills training initiatives to ensure they can participate fully in the country’s economic growth
According to Fourth Wall’s Research Director, John Brylle Bae, “The primary reason for women’s domination of sari-sari stores lies in the very origin and nature of sari-sari stores themselves. Families set up sari-sari stores to augment the resources of the household. Thus, sari-sari stores are always intertwined with the needs of the home. In the Filipino context, the role of the nanay [mother] is to manage the home, including addressing and managing the household’s needs.”
Moreover, the sociocultural context of the Philippines contributes to this phenomenon. Bae explained that women have been associated with managing the household since the colonial era, and this role extends to sari-sari stores. Spanish colonization and the Western cultural influences that followed redefined the role of women from powerful religious-political figures in the community (babaylans or priestesses) to nurturers of the home.
The data from Pacworks’ Sari IQ and the analysis from Fourth Wall provide insights into the significant role of women in the grassroots economy of the Philippines. The implications of this data highlight the importance of empowering women to participate fully in the country’s economic growth.