MANILA – The Association of Southeast Nations Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) is set to launch a mentoring network program for entrepreneurs in the small, medium, and micro enterprises (MSMEs) sector as part of creating an inclusive business environment in the ASEAN Region.
Called the ASEAN Mentoring Entrepreneurship Network (AMEN), ASEAN BAC chairman and Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion on Thursday explained that the program involves volunteer mentors from 10 ASEAN member states who will educate entrepreneurs on specific areas of expertise, such as agriculture and technology.
“We really want to share with you, especially the Filipino people, that ASEAN is not exclusive. ASEAN is inclusive. It is to benefit not only the large corporations out there, not only to benefit the more successful countries among the 10, but it is to benefit all nations among the 10,” Concepcion said in a press briefing.
Aside from the discussion on MSME empowerment, Concepcion said among the objectives of Friday’s (April 28) Prosperity for All Summit hosted by the ASEAN BAC is getting big businesses to really help MSMEs businessmen gain an equal footing in terms of economic prosperity.
“It’s very clear from the council members today as we had our meeting is that they want each and every country to rise together and nobody is left behind,” he said.
MSMEs challenges in ASEAN
Concepcion also acknowledged that it is a challenge for micro and small enterprises’ to benefit from the ASEAN.
Another challenge is the readiness of small and micro ASEAN businessmen to not only survive but to sustain their enterprise with the greater competition set to happen in the ASEAN Economic Community.
Concepcion said there must be a balance between the views of the economists and “those people creating prosperity” to address these kinds of problems.
Medium and large companies currently in partnership with the 10 ASEAN countries need to embrace the micro and small enterprises, especially small farmers, as part of their business ecosystem.
And hopefully, Concepcion said, information on strategies and roadmaps between ASEAN countries could be shared to address these concerns on the MSMEs.
“We want to know what were the programs used by Malaysia [or] Thailand in really helping the poor people there transform greater lives and achieve greater prosperity,” Concepcion said.
In 2010, there were a total of 777,687 business in the Philippines, 99.6 percent of which were MSMEs. Meanwhile, only 0.4 percent of businesses were large enterprises.
Almost half of the MSMEs were engaged in wholesale/retail trade and repair services.
More discussions on the MSMEs in the ASEAN region will be tackled at the Prosperity for All Summit where business leaders together with key policy leaders, such as Malaysia Prime Ministers Dato Sri Najib Razal, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Pampanga 2nd district representative and former president Gloria Mapacagal Arroyo, are expected to attend.
Also speaking at the forum are Sen. Bam Aquino, Sen. Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Pena.