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Lack of inclusive growth plagues Asean economies.

Lack of inclusivity remains to be a problem of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), keeping small business players from growing as the world is still 'controlled by a few people,' the head of the Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean BAC) said on Sunday.

In a press briefing, Asean BAC chair Joey Concepcion III said growth remained elusive to a lot of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as large corporations continued to dominate industries.

The briefing preceded the launch of Asean Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (Amen), which Concepcion described as the first and largest MSME mentorship program in Asean, kickstarting an initiative that seeks to tap the region's pool of business experts.


'We're trying to look here at the inclusivity in our growth. This is really the problem that I see in the Asean area. How do we make these MSMEs move up the value chain? It's a challenge,' he said.

Like in the rest of Asean, the Philippine business is made up mostly of MSMEs. However, MSMEs in the Philippines - which account for more than 99 percent of businesses - only contribute around a third of the country's gross domestic product.

'You can see the world is controlled by a few people. Large corporations still continue to dominate the [business] sector,' said Concepcion, who heads food and beverage company RFM Corp.

The Amen program is meant to facilitate the scaling up of MSMEs in the region through mentorship. The mentors are to be tapped from three major groups - entrepreneurs, business practitioners and academicians.

The program was officially launched on Sunday during the Asean Business and Investment Summit.

Concepcion said the program would start with 'mentoring the mentors,' citing the case of the Philippines, which launched its own mentorship program last year.

He said that many of the mentors from the Amen program would also mentor those in the Philippines, noting there is a 'need to definitely strengthen the level of our mentors.'


A total of 143 pioneer mentors joined the launch, he said, noting that this was one of the country's 'deliverables' as chair of Asean. The program, however, will not end once the Philippines turns over its chairmanship to Singapore next year.

The Philippines, which implements its own mentorship initiative under the Kapatid program, has over 500 mentors, he said. With Amen, he expects the number could eventually reach 'at least a thousand mentors.'

He said the plan was to develop an academy and a digital platform, expanding even beyond the Asean states.

Josephine Romero, Asean BAC adviser, said that the council was coming up with 'specific action items' so each member state would have a 'significant contribution to the Amen program.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Nov 13, 2017
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