Elevate AIDA: Empowering women communities to thrive in the digital economy

July 25, 2023

Elevate AIDA: Empowering women communities to thrive in the digital economy
Thanks to Elevate AIDA, Katrina Bayutas can provide for her family in the comfort of her own home while caring for her children.

In a typical Filipino home, women, especially the mothers, are considered as homemakers. They are also left to care for their children.

But women can still do so much more, if given the opportunity to maximize their potential.

In Toledo City, 60 women were given the chance to work from home under the Elevate AIDA program that was developed by social impact startup group, Connected Women, with the support of Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower) and its subsidiary Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI). AIDA stands for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Annotation.

The program aims to empower women in rural areas by teaching them remote work skills and basic professional and computer abilities. They are taught AI data labelling competence so that they can become active contributors to the digital economy and the AI industry.

Launched in June 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the program began with helping women, especially mothers, with basic data annotation skills such as image identification and categorization.

AboitizPower and TVI, along with the Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Aboitiz Foundation), provided the sponsorship for their skills training.

All that the program beneficiaries needed were a stable internet connection and a laptop to do the online work.

Here are the success stories of some of the program's beneficiaries.

Katrina Bayutas, 25

Katrina of Barangay Cabitoonan in Toledo City finished Business Administration at the University of the Visayas in Cebu City. However, she never had the opportunity to stay in a regular job because of the need to take care of her two girls. Her common-law partner, Amile Louis Capaning, is mostly away from home as he works as a service master at a gasoline station in Toledo City.

“Naay mga bata. Lisud kaayo biyaan (I now have children and it's very difficult to leave them behind),” she said.

When she learned of the Elevate AIDA program, Katrina said that she and her elder sister Chrislyn, 29, immediately signed up.

“Nindot siya nga platform kay makatrabaho ka bisan og naa kas balay, nagbantay og bata (This is a good platform because it allows you to work while you stay at home and take care of the children),” she shared.

Although the laptop that she was using was somewhat old, Katrina said, she still managed to complete their training via Zoom.

She was also made to undergo assessment before job offers were sent via email.

Katrina said she worked on short-term projects that would only take about a month to finish. Working online was very beneficial for her because she only needed to work at least four hours straight to complete her assigned task for the day. She would always choose to work at night, after she sends her daughters to bed.

Aside from the opportunity to earn, the program also helped Katrina regain her self- esteem as it provided a boost to her self-confidence.

“Sa una grabe ang akong anxiety. Usahay daghan kag gihuna-huna. Usahay makathink ka nga wala kay pulos (I used to experience severe anxiety. Sometimes, I think of a lot of things. Sometimes, I get to thinking that I am useless),” she said.

The online work also taught Katrina more about time management and critical thinking skills.

“Nagrequire siyag critical thinking. Mofollow jud kag instructions kay iparevise man kun masayop (It requires critical thinking. You have to follow the instructions to avoid the need to do revisions),” she said.

Haydee Bucao, 61


Haydee Bucao proves that it is never too late to start learning about technology, much less make a living out of it.

Haydee has never tried a regular job and she has very limited knowledge about internet use and doing online work.

She decided to join the Elevate AIDA program to gain experience and to learn things that she should have learned when she was younger.

Haydee, a resident of Sitio Bacalor in Barangay Bato, said she came to realize that it was never too late for her to explore and learn.

Excited of what was ahead of her, she eagerly joined interviews, trainings and meetings that were done via Zoom using her smartphone.

Haydee said she would always seek the help of her neighbors on how to join Zoom meetings. With great perseverance, she eventually learned about the different applications essential to her online job.

And the best part was that they were given an allowance of P3,500 during the 15-day training.

Giganahan ra sad ko kay pwede ka makatrabaho bisan og naa ra sa balay (I was encouraged to join because I will be able to work even if I stay at home),” she said.

Haydee said that while all of her four children were already grown ups, she still has five grandchildren and a great grandchild that she had to watch over when their parents were away or were at work.

While she has yet to formally start her online job, Haydee shares her excitement to finally earn something that she can later on share, especially with her grandchildren and great grandchild.

"Naa na unya koy sweldo. Makapalit na ko kun unsay gusto sa mga bata (I will soon be earning. I will soon be able to buy what my grandchildren and great grandchild want)," she said.

Trisha Anne Libre, 22


risha Anne Libre is looking forward to earning through Elevate AIDA to get additional income for her family. She juggled attending training sessions with the task of watching their sari-sari store.

Trisha has been helping her father take care of her younger siblings after her mother left for abroad to work as a domestic helper. She runs a sari-sari store that she opened from the money that her mother sent to augment their needs.

But her mother’s four-year contract abroad would soon expire and Trisha is looking to earn additional income from the Elevate AIDA program to save money before her mother arrives.

"Mas maayo nga naa mi kwarta nga magamit inig uli sa akong mama (I was hoping to save so that we will have something to spend when my mother comes home)," Libre said.

Trisha said she already completed her training which enhanced her skills and was already looking forward to getting her first job offer.

AboitizPower and TVI sponsored the Elevate AIDA program as it aligns with their vision to become the country’s first "techglomerate", putting innovation at the forefront of its growth strategy and integrating technology and design thinking in all its production, services, and processes while advancing business and communities.

Through the program, the women of Toledo City, Cebu are now empowered to support their families, as they have now acquired new skills that will help them thrive in an ever- growing digital economy.

This article first appeared on Cebu Daily News.

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