"By providing income opportunities for women across our distribution chain, we are also strengthening our business."

Vera Markl-Moser
CD Sustainability Director


Empowered women play a vital role in reaching our consumers and enabling our business to grow. By building skills among our small-scale distributors and retailers, we’re creating new opportunities for women while strengthening our business.

Our products reach consumers through around 25 million stores in more than 190 countries, as well as through direct sales from micro-entrepreneurs. We know that millions of women work in this network, and that women own or operate 30–40% of the outlets in what is known as ‘traditional trade’ – the mom-and-pop shops, corner stores, kiosks, open market stalls and street carts that are vital to our sales in developing markets.

We also believe there are potentially millions of new opportunities for women to enhance their livelihoods and help grow our business by helping us reach consumers in new ways − including in remote or hard-to-reach areas through what is known as ‘last-mile distribution’.

We want to help women throughout our distribution network address the factors that can hold them back – such as a lack of training and skills, lack of childcare, social attitudes, or financial exclusion – while improving their access to markets, information and financing. We do this directly through our programmes, or in partnership with civil society organisations, governments or financial institutions.

For example, in the Philippines, more than 90% of all retail outlets are small, ‘mom and pop’ style stores at the heart of their communities – and nine out of ten of them are owned by women. These stores – also known as ‘sari-sari’ – play a vital role in bringing our products to consumers. But because they are not part of a group or chain, they often don’t benefit from training or development and they can lack access to business skills and information. Helping these entrepreneurs unlock their potential boosts their businesses and gives us an opportunity to reach more consumers with our brands. A key element of Kabisig lies in making connections between us and our retailers, but also among retailers themselves. The programme is run alongside our Super!Store initiative which works with bigger, established stores who each act as wholesalers for up to 120 Kabisig partners. Our Kabisig programme brings store owners together with our distributors at Kabisig Summits, where they learn skills such as stock control, financial management, sales techniques and customer service. Over 2015−2018, around 180,000 store owners have benefited from the Summits. Since it began at scale in 2016, Kabisig has enhanced the skills and training of over 165,000 women store-owners, and helped around 24,000 people set up new businesses. At the same time, our sales volume in participating Super!Stores has grown by 7%−12% higher than stores that have not been through the programme.

Read more about our diverse programs on https://www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/enhancing-livelihoods/opportunities-for-women/expanding-opportunities-in-our-retail-value-chain/

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