Trudeau calls PH’s women micro-entrep project ‘a model for the world’

Mara Cepeda
Trudeau calls PH’s women micro-entrep project ‘a model for the world’
Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau meets the Filipinas behind The GREAT Women Project, which has received an $8 million funding from his country

MANILA, Philippines – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showered praises for the women micro-entrepreneurship project being led by the Philippine Commission on Women, a program funded by his country.

Trudeau faced some Filipina businesswomen and beneficiaries of the Gender-Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women (GREAT Women) Project on Monday, November 13 at the Yuchengco Museum in Makati City. 

“This is an extraordinary success that you can all be incredibly proud of. But more than just the success here, it’s a model for the world,” said Trudeau, who is in Manila for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Justin Trudeau inspects PWD-friendly e-jeepney

“We need to know that everywhere where this poverty, where there are struggles and challenges, where there is a lack of economic development, one of the best things to do is to empower women, to give them opportunities to contribute, to grow their communities, to take care of the next generation, and to build prosperity,” he added. 

The GREAT Women Project aims to help small-scale women entrepreneurs in the food, textile, woven cloth, and home-style decor industries by linking them with Filipino entrepreneurs who can help refine their business ideas.

The project also gives the beneficiaries access to finances and the right market – both domestic and global – for their products. 

The project first ran from 2007 to 2014 and was given $6 million by the Canadian International Development Agency. Now on its phase 2, The GREAT Women Project has received another $8 million from Canada for its implementation from 2015 to 2020.

So far, The GREAT Women Project has enrolled 3,652 women micro-entrepreneurs into the program and has facilitated various trade fairs, caravans and exhibits, with sales reported at P52 million. 

“I know the word feminist still scares a few people. But it simply means recognizing that men and women are equal and should be equal. And second, that there’s still an awful lot of work to do to get it,” said Trudeau.

“If you can say yes to both of those things, guess what, you’re a feminist!” he added.

Trudeau becomes ‘host’

LIGHT MOMENT. Trudeau kisses Green Life Bags owner Zarah Jane Juan. Beside them is ECHOStore owner Jeannie Javelosa. Screenshot by Rappler

During the forum, Trudeau went onstage with 3 partner entrepreneurs of the project – Jeannie Javelosa of ECHOStore, Zarah Jane Juan of Green Leaf Bags, and Anya Lim of Anthill Fabric Gallery. 

The Canadian leader acted like a talk show host, asking the ladies about the impact of the project on the lives of its beneficiaries. He was armed with a set of cue cards and a smile that charmed his female audience.

He even joked that the hard work and success employed by the people behind The GREAT Women Project were “certainly something that is going to cost the Canadian government a lot of money.” The room erupted with laughter and applause.

After the forum, participants of The GREAT Women Project stood beside Trudeau for a group photo.  

One of the women asked for a “beso” or a kiss on the cheek, and Trudeau gamely obliged. He then ended up giving kisses on the cheeks of most of the Filipina entrepreneurs in the room.

Trudeau is a known advocate for women’s rights, even forming Canada’s first gender-balanced Cabinet. The Prime Minister, however, is criticized for his shifting stance on climate change issues. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.