Why a mentorship program for ASEAN?

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Since its founding in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN)-- except for Singapore and oil-wealthy Brunei-- has had very little growth in terms of the number of big businesses in the region. Their economies have largely been propelled and propped up by the robust, albeit informal, growth of the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) or what others call as the underground economy.

 

The gross domestic product per capita of the five ASEAN member states (AMS) back in 1967 was at $122 while its equivalent in 2016 with the increased member states to 10 is averaging at $4,021. Some view this to have ushered in social progress and poverty reduction with only 14 percent living below the poverty line (having less than $1.25 purchasing power parity per day) in 2015 as against 47 percent in 1990.

 

The MSMEs have also led to a reduction in unemployment from over 5 percent in 1984-1999 to 4 percent in 2016.

 

But the collective expertise and learning of these MSMEs in the region and their sharing of experiences on how they progressed through the years, through an Asean-wide mentoring program, will further accelerate their growth and upscale MSMEs to a level where they compete in the global marketplace.

 

This is why the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) was created and launched on November 11 by the leaders of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) under the leadership of the Philippines, host of 2017 ASEAN Business Investment Summit under Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and founder of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-Go Negosyo.

 

AMEN was designed as a public private partnership platform where mentors and teaching modules for MSMEs can be continually developed and actively shared across the region as an effective way to promote inclusive growth and prosperity for all, as the 2017 ASEAN BIS theme says.

 

The ASEAN BAC has put forth the concept of AMEN program and its proposed implementation based on the success in the Philippines’ “Kapatid” Mentor Micro Entrepreneurs (KMME) Program, which developed and capacitated MSMEs in the course of weekly mentoring sessions with them.

 

Kapatid is implemented jointly by PCE-Go Negosyo and the Department of Trade and Industry which has tapped certified entrepreneurs, business practitioners, academicians and seasoned trainers as mentors to conduct 10 sessions to improve the business acumen of the mentees.

 

The need for MSMEs to be provided continuing capacity building is recognized by ASEAN member countries to strengthen the economic integration through an institutionalized and sustainable capacity building program for the entire region through an organized mentors’ pool to scale up MSMEs.

 

 

The thrust then is to a) establish a pool of certified mentors; establish a mentorship modules for MSMEs and put up an ASEA Mentors Academy. 

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