The ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (“AMEN”) by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) which aims to put together an operative ecosystem both at national and regional levels of Public-Private Partnership that promotes the integration and acceleration of MSME’s access to Mentorship, Money and Markets or “the 3Ms” as the framework for MSME empowerment to scale up offline and online. The ASEAN-BAC is the official linkage and advisory council of the private sector champions of ASEAN, tasked to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost ASEAN’s efforts towards economic integration. It was under the Philippines chairmanship of ASEAN-BAC Chair Joey Concepcion that AMEN was established, under the ASEAN-BAC Legacy Project.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is home to Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), including micro enterprises are integral to the economic development and growth of the ASEAN Member States. They constitute the largest number of establishments and contribute significantly to the labour force of ASEAN Member States (AMS). SMEs account for between 88.8% and 99.9% total establishments in AMS and between 51.7% and 97.2% of total employment. The contribution of these enterprises to each AMS’ GDP is between 30% and 53% and the contribution of SMEs to exports is between 10% and 29.9%. Hence, these enterprises are important in terms of income and employment generation, gender and youth empowerment through their diverse business participation, and their widespread presence in the non-urban and rural areas. SMEs are thus the backbone of ASEAN and SME development is fundamental towards achieving long-run and sustainable economic growth and narrowing the development gap.
THE “3MS” FRAMEWORK
One of the major problems that hinder the growth of micro and small entrepreneurs is their lack of access to grants and other financial support. Without enough fund resources, MSMEs with innovative products and services work on their meager capital to start. Some do not even have the capital to begin with. This is why MSMEs need more microfinance institutions who can grant them loans with minimum interest rates and with no collateral requirement. Micro and small entrepreneurs can benefit from them being part of their value chains as supplier, distributor, or manufacturer. This is called Inclusive Business. By including MSMEs in the ecosystem, we are providing them with a more sustainable income and a wider market reach. With the access to capital and market, micro and small entrepreneurs will now need the support of mentors who will guide them in their entrepreneurial journey. Most successful entrepreneurs in the country are proud to have mentors who have nurtured them with business acumen which they have used in important decisions. To sustain their businesses, MSMEs will need the 3Ms that will support their growth – Money, Mentorship, and Market. These three will create an enabling environment for MSMEs.
INFLUENCE OF THE FRAMEWORK
The Philippine Republic Act No. 9178 or the Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act of 2012 was passed to help MSMEs flourish in the country. The said law provides for incentives to BMBEs (Barangay Micro Business Enterprises) which includes tax exemptions and easier access to certain loans. With these incentives, the government hopes to support and assist micro businessmen with their development and growth.
The inspiration of the public-private partnership aim of AMEN was the the Philippine Republic Act No. 10644, known as “Go Negosyo Act” seeks to strengthen micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to create more job opportunities in the country. It was signed into law by the President Benigno S. Aquino III on 15 July 2014, and which took effect on 13 January 2015. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 14-5 Series of 2014: “Implementing Rules and Regulations for Republic Act No. 10644″.
AMEN IN MANILA
AMEN was officially launched last November 12, 2017 as part of the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit led by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte during the Philippine Chairmanship. ASEAN-BAC has also launched AMEN with ASEAN dialogue partners.
AMEN IN AUSTRALIA
AMEN was launched in Australia in partnership with Australia-ASEAN Business Council through series of events in parallel with the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit held in Sydney last March 2018. Support valued at AUD $100,000 was committed to facilitate the movement of startups between ASEAN countries and Australia through reciprocal co-working agreements, as well as sponsored positions in world-class entrepreneurial programs such as incubators and accelerators. A virtual mentorship network will form the backbone for market access (internationalisation) support.
AMEN IN KOREA
AMEN was launched in Korea last June 5, 2018 in South Korea. Joining Concepcion with the signing of a memorandum of understanding were George Barcelon (ASEAN BAC), Ambassador Lee Hyuk (ASEAN-Korea Centre), and Chairman Park Sung-taek (Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business). With the signing, the Philippine-Korea partnership was strengthened in providing mentorship to micro, small, and medium enterprises as well as creating programs in priority sectors like the digital economy, trade and industry, and agripreneurship.
AMEN IN MALAYSIA
In partnership with Brickfields Asia College (BAC) and SME Corp Malaysia will kick-off AMEN with the first AMEN Mentors Workshop at the Brickfields Asia College PJ Campus on July 14, 2018. The dynamic workshop will help aspiring mentors the benefits to both the individuals and the organizations, the key skills required to be an effective mentor, and the factors that are most important in creating a meaning mentoring relationship.
AMEN IN SINGAPORE
Private sector engagement is integral to the achievement of the ASEAN aspiration for inclusive and sustainable growth which is in line with Sustainable Development Goals. Businesses create jobs, provide income, goods, services, and innovation. The launch of the AMEN will be part of the agenda of the ASEAN Responsible Business Forum with the theme, “Towards Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable ASEAN: The Role of Responsible and Inclusive Business” on August 27, 2018 at the Concorde Hotel, Singapore. Mr. Joey Concepcion will be one of the speakers in the first session entitled, “Investing for an Inclusive, Resilient and Sustainable Future: Advancing Responsible and Inclusive Business in ASEAN”.
AMEN IN THAILAND
Set to happen in Bangkok from 19-22 Sept 2018, GEN Thailand and Thai Ministry of Digital Economy & Society will be hosting the GEN ASIA x DTBB 2018 (Digital Thailand Big Bang) where AMEN will be launched for regional cooperation with MOUs, mentoring sessions, speaking opportunities. The forums will zoom in on the efforts for MSMEs’ Access to Inclusive Finance, Capital and Operational Expense, Digital Tools and Savings and Investments, followed by MSMEs’ Access to Local Markets, ASEAN Communities, and E-Commerce. Furthermore, the integrative segment of the 3Ms is the Mentorship session sharing best mentoring models across the region.
OTHER LAUNCHES WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON.
THE AMEN NETWORK
The AMEN Pool of Mentors is made up of public and private organizations and individuals, “voices of business” that have extensive national and international network of local, foreign, and international chambers, industry/sectoral associations and business councils, which provide both the feedback mechanism and platforms to carry out the agenda on business and economic competitiveness. Anyone committed to empower ASEAN MSMEs that would serve as the new engine for sustained economic growth and shared prosperity across the region and its dialogue partners.
The implementation of programs will be overseen and reported to the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) Country Chairperson of his/her representative. The role of Public Sector Champions are: Policy Initiative, Establishment of Institutional Mechanisms, and Human Capacity Building that will assist in the joint effort in achieving regional integration and expansion for MSMEs Development.
ASEAN Business Advisory Council Country champions or MSME leads who have been nominated by ASEAN-BAC Chairs who agree to launch AMEN in their respective countries or integrate it with their existing national programs. For the long term, they will develop and concrete action programs furthering the collaboration on the strategic areas.
AMEN Mentors are top or senior level entrepreneurs, experts, gurus, business owners with the passion for helping MSMEs, who have the willingness to share skills, with an inspiring background and entrepreneurial journey to share.
AMEN Partner Organizations (AMPO) are partners with programs and initiatives on Mentorship, Money and Market, and shares the desire to collaborate and bring together institutional mechanisms that provide organizational support and expertise for MSME Development. They are focused on establishing a partnership, which will be the platform to jointly develop and undertake programs, projects and advocacy initiatives pursuant to the development and operationalization of AMEN. They are vital in building the operative ecosystem both at national and regional levels that promotes the integration of Mentorship, Money and Markets or “the 3Ms” as the framework for MSME empowerment.
The development and sustainability base of AMEN Mentors are the heart and soul of whose expertise and success stories can be shared for Mentoring the Mentors Program or actual Mentorship Roll Out Programs in the priority sectors in the digital economy, trade and industry, and agripreneurship.
AMEN is a unique platform for mentors around the world to connect to growing ASEAN, a close neighbour at the heart of the Asian growth engine. Mentors are a partner for growth with ASEAN entrepreneurs and MSMEs in ASEAN, ASEAN dialogue partners and other global marketplace with direct access and connection to other AMEN mentors.
For more info, visit us at the AMEN Website (http://www.aseanmentors.org).