PA Joey Concepcion was invited to an intimate dinner with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and coordinating minister for economic and social policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam hosted by Singapore Ambassador to the Philippines Kok Li Peng. Also present at the dinner were former Bangko Sentral Governor Amando Tetangco, Nestor Tan, Justo Ortiz, Josephine Gotianun-Yap, and the entourage of the deputy prime minister.

I arrived yesterday from Malaysia after attending the ASEAN-India Business Summit which was chaired by fellow ASEAN Business Advisory Council member Dato Ramesh Kodammal.

After receiving the Padma Shri award, one of the most prestigious award of the Republic of India last April, I was requested to speak about entrepreneurship connectivity between ASEAN and India.

My talk focused on the overall objective of what the countries in the world are trying to do, which is to achieve a level of prosperity in life through wealth and genuine happiness for its citizens. When one has these two components, I can say that a person is fulfilled.

While our spiritual and life mentors guide us to the path of happiness and fulfillment, the world’s governments and organizations are trying to bring about economic prosperity through the establishment of free and fair trade. Whether it’s the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), or Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), or the World Economic Forum, these entities are challenged if the basic element of trust and good relationship do not exist.

This is where mentorship and the sharing of knowledge and best practices are important, which is why we have so many summits and mentoring sessions focused on helping our micro, small and medium enterprises most especially now that we are entering the fourth industrial revolution (IR).

Because of this fourth major industrial era, we are creating a new breed of entrepreneurs who are changing the business landscape through digitalization, thus creating greater access to money and market. Yes, this is a great disruption to the brick and mortar business models which will cause them to modify or adapt to the online platform. But more than being a disruption, the 4th Industrial Revolution creates better and more sustainable access to mentorship, money, and market through different online platforms.

The recent business summit I attended is part of the many initiatives of hundreds of organizations that are pushing for greater connectivity to money and market with prosperity for all as its objective. There will be more discussions and conferences focused on introducing the digital world to more people as we all thrive to be part of this new era.

China President Xi Jinping and PA Joey Concepcion during the state dinner.

Last week, I was invited by Singapore Amb. Kok Li Peng to meet Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the deputy prime minister of Singapore. Singapore is the leader in ASEAN when it comes to digital connectivity. Just recently, they had the largest fintech event which was attended by around 50,000 participants. DPM Tharman clearly understands the 4th IR and knows what Singapore has to do. Leadership is key to getting the country prepared for such revolution. Although Singapore is not a big country with more than five million citizens only, it is prepared for the digital shift. It has no large market, but since they are now in the digital space, they are reaching a greater market which is the whole world. Singapore plans to be an enabler in connectivity globally.

Similarly, Israel, with almost the same land size and population as Singapore, is also a global leader in digitalization. They have banked on education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It  is a must for the Philippines to step up its play and join the industrial revolution.

On another note, with the recent visit of the China President Xi Jinping, I was lucky to be able to meet and shake hands with him. It gave me an impression that this great leader has a strong vision for China through its One Belt, One Road initiative which creates better connectivity across the world. China’s digital entrepreneurs like Alibaba’s Jack Ma clearly understand that online connectivity is the way forward. Dominating in both offline and online platforms will make the country more inclusive. This will then result to greater prosperity for all.