Asean project to help small businesses hit by pandemic
MANILA, Philippines — Asean Business Advisory Council (BAC) Philippines chair Joey Concepcion promises a faster, easier and cheaper access to mentorship as part of efforts to support micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSMEs) hit by the pandemic through his legacy project, Asean Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (Amen), supported by the different Asean countries during a stakeholders meeting on July 17.
Concepcion said mentorship programs in the Philippines, led by Go Negosyo, have been widely accepted by entrepreneurs who participated online.
“We were able to find ways to make sure that they can easily access our platforms,” he said. “I think access to mentors now is much easier and cheaper. Many mentors are available. I believe this pandemic, while it’s hurting many of our MSMEs, is also giving a lot of opportunities for other MSMEs to move toward digital. I think the opportunity to accelerate the programs is there because of online. We can mirror that in other Asean countries to help our MSMEs. This will make it faster, easier and cheaper for access.”
Asean BAC Singapore chair Dr. Robert Yap said “The best thing for everyone is to look at the worst, hoping for the best. Amen has been formed as an Asean BAC legacy. It has grown so well, especially with the drive and passion of Joey. We’re looking at how to bring this to other countries or all the countries in Asean itself. The 3Ms are very relevant in any business—whether you’re small or big. The time of COVID has actually made everyone realize the importance of digitalization. The COVID situation has accelerated that. We have to help businesses drive digital transformation faster than normal.”
Asean BAC Thailand chair Arin Jira said “We need to stay united. We need to stay strong to face economic and business challenges. Asean has shown leadership to the world. We must help to ensure that the backbone of our economies is able to have access to financing, necessary management and marketing skills, access to digital technologies.”
Asean BAC Malaysia chair Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid said “Let’s stay together and let’s stay strong. This COVID-19 crisis has shown how much Amen is needed [and] shows how much it is so essential. The support from the top to the bottom, the linkages, this chain of linkages is so important. The Amen program is a superb way of ensuring this help.”
Engineer Merly Cruz, executive director of the AmenProject Management Office, presented a report on the first phase of the Amen Project. With the support of 48 mentors who used 10 mentorship modules, an Adaptive Business Model was formed to help MSMEs respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19. After the 3M project was brought online, 45 businesses have successfully graduated from the pilot batch and applied the lessons from the coaching session to grow their business.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Doan Duy Khuong, Asean BAC 2020 chair, said “I am very inspired by the agenda of this meeting and fully support the progress of the Amen project. I strongly believe that our distinguished speakers have shared a lot of best practices and knowledge on how to survive in this time and how important Amen is. There is a need for quicker response and more regional cooperation from Asean in the time of the pandemic. We have to strengthen public-private partnership at the regional level.”
The meeting was also attended by Dino Vega, Asean BAC Indonesia council chair, Asean BAC council members, Amen mentors from the Philippines, Indonesia, Josephine Romero, senior adviser for Go Negosyo and senior adviser for Asean BAC PH chair, George Barcelon, Asean BAC PH council member, Norlela Suhailee, ACCMSME head of delegations, and head of business advisory & services, Darussalam Enterprise (DARe), Director Jerry T. Clavesillas, Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, among others.
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