Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Business Heroes Championing Homegrown Products

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

To commemorate the recently celebrated 119th Philippine Independence Day, here are some local businessmen who have elevated the Filipino brand through their ingenuity and patronization:

Kenneth Cobonpue, Patis Tesoro and Steve Benitez.

Kenneth Cobonpue, Patis Tesoro and Steve Benitez.

Kenneth Cobonpue

Kenneth Cobonpue is a multi-awarded Filipino industrial designer known for his unique designs integrating natural materials through innovative handmade production processes. He began his design career after his studies in Industrial Design in New York, which led him to trainings and further studies in Italy and Germany. After a series of further studies and trainings abroad, Kenneth moved back to Cebu in 1996 to help manage their family business founded by his mother in 1972. Upon managing the business, Kenneth discovered that by the use of natural fibers and materials as a medium, modern design could have a new face. With his masterful way of integrating nature, traditional craft and innovative technologies, designer and creative director Kenneth Cobonpue has earned international awards and recognition for his creative, organic, and expressive pieces. Kenneth has also worked closely with some of the world’s leading designers. Kenneth has been making a name for design in the Philippines and sharing his vision to a global audience. Various Cobonpue designs have also appeared in full-length feature films and television, such as Oceans 13 and CSI while his roster of clientele includes Hollywood celebrities and members of royalty. The whole furniture industry in the Philippines was just plain manufacturers, their products would go under different names and brands. What set his company apart from most of the furniture industry which relied on original equipment manufacturing was that he wanted to be recognized for his own designs. Kenneth Cobonpue was determined to prove to the world that Filipino products can compete with the best.

Patis Tesoro

Patis Tesoro is a woman with several characteristics all rolled into one. She is on the cutting edge of fashion and much more, yet successfully manages to remain a constant champion of the traditional. She is widely known for her flashy, exotic creations, and also a world traveler with a distinct style she calls “Bohemian Filipiniana”. She is also a cultural maven, entrepreneur, book publisher, restaurateur, plant and animal lover, fashion designer, and doll-maker. Though born to well-off parents and whose family is well known until today as the supplier of exquisite Filipino handicrafts, she has always loved to work with her hands — sketching, drawing, sewing or embroidering. She has been making clothes even as a young girl. The provenance of the materials she uses reflects the Philippines’ rich heritage or history. Patis Tesoro believes that “piña” is a cloth of stature and is iconic to the Philippines; losing it would mean losing our identity. With centuries of local traditions—hand embroidery, embellishment, textile processing, and weaving—Patis adeptly employs the fine work of artisans in her own creations. For her, Filipinos have to grow more piña to prevent traditions from going extinct and also to preserve this fragile part of Filipino heritage.

Steve Benitez

Steve Benitez’s love for coffee began during his time in law school with the late nights studying sessions that called for lots of caffeine-induced energy. When he realized that his true passion was actually coffee, he dropped out of law school and travelled to the United States to learn more about the industry. He brought back with him a deep passion for their coffee culture, but it’s his love for Filipino coffee which truly sets apart his chain of coffee shops. It wasn’t long until he started Bo’s Coffee, with just a single, small location. Bo’s Coffee is the Philippines’ first and largest homegrown specialty coffee chain. Bo’s Coffee sets itself apart by sourcing the best coffee and products from Philippine producers and supports local communities in the process. It focuses on supporting local coffee farmers—sourcing the best of Philippine Coffee from Sagada, Benguet, Mt. Kitanglad, Mt. Matutum, and Mt. Apo—and elevating the quality of Philippine coffee. Bo’s also offers a selection of food and beverages made by entrepreneurs who share Bo’s values, all in a setting of locally crafted furniture and decor. Despite the initial struggles and the growing number of international competitors, he created a business that is locally rooted and internationally competitive. Today, there are a total of 81 Bo’s Coffee Club outlets.

Olivia Limpe-Aw, Justin Uy and Reese Fernandez-Ruiz.

Olivia Limpe-Aw, Justin Uy and Reese Fernandez-Ruiz.

Olivia Limpe-Aw

Olivia Limpe-Aw is a fifth-generation leader of the Philippines’ oldest distillery, Destileria Limtuaco and Co.. At present, she is the President and Chair of the company. She is responsible for the company’s new and innovative products such as the Paradise Mango Rum Liqueur, Amadeo Liquer and Manille Liqueur de Calamansi. Limpe-Aw and her company sources and highlights indigenous agricultural products for her business. For, Paradise Mango Rum, the drink which makes use of the Philippines delicious mangoes has been named as the official drink of Boracay and Palawan. Under her leadership, the brand has won many international and local awards. Amadeo Liquer is a coffee-based liqueur and is named after the Philippine’s coffee capital in Cavite. Manille Liqueur de Calamansi is popular with foreigners who liken it to the limoncello of Italy. Her products are now star exports in Asia and distributed in California and New York. Other products include: Very Old Captain’s Dark Rum, Maria Clara Sangria, Manille Liquer de Dalandan, Intramuros Liqueur de Cacao, San Juan Premium Lambanog, Vigan Basi Sugarcane Wine and Imeldifique Cooking Wine.

Justin Uy

Justin Uy is the founder of ProFood International Corporation, a leading supplier of Filipino snacks, specifically dried mangos. Today, dried mangos are a bastion for Filipino snacks all over the world. When Justin Uy and his family started their business in the 1970s, they were hoping to address the amount of wasted ripe mangoes in Cebu. Thus, they entered the dried mango business which eventually brought value to mangoes when farmers never really saw much value in them before. To compete with other local producers of like them, they exported their products to countries near the Philippines such as Hong Kong. Upon the success of Hong Kong, they eventually entered into other global markets like the United States. With only one brand name, Justin was able to build a brand that made Philippine mangoes the best mangoes in the world. He championed the “Philippine brand” by marketing dried mangoes abroad as coming from Filipino mangoes. Their other products today include mango puree, canned juices, juice pouches, fruit preserves and concentrates. Justin Uy has also established the Mango Museum to help promote Philippine mangoes as the best in the world.

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz

Reese Fernandez-Ruiz started Rags2Riches with colleagues from Ateneo in hopes of  empowering women in impoverished communities. Rags2Riches turns scraps of cloth into high-end fashion accessories. Today, Rags2Riches is now an internationally renowned fashion and design brand that employs women from poor communities and has more than a 100 artisans who are vertically integrated into R2R’s supply-chain. Her enterprise answers many social problems in the country such as low employment and quality of life for women in poor communities and is eco-friendly. She is truly remarkable and innovative because she has employed great design to uplift humble materials into high-end products. With the success of Rags2Riches, she became part of the Forbes’ 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs list.

Why DTI Sec. Lopez Believes in Creating Smarter Entrepreneurs

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017
A prime mover of empowering MSMEs, DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez believes that making entrepreneurs ‘smarter’ through skills-training, mentoring, education and various capacity-building programs are integral in enabling the massive MSME group

A prime mover of empowering MSMEs, DTI Sec. Ramon Lopez believes that making entrepreneurs ‘smarter’ through skills-training, mentoring, education and various capacity-building programs are integral in enabling the massive MSME group

Department of Trade and Industry’s Secretary Ramon Lopez joined the panel discussion on driving growth for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) during the Prosperity for All Summit last April. A prime mover of empowering MSMEs, Lopez believes that making entrepreneurs ‘smarter’ through skills-training, mentoring, education and various capacity-building programs are integral in enabling the massive MSME group that comprises 99.6% of the entire business sector.

Lopez shared that under the Duterte administration and during his work as the Executive Director of Go Negosyo, the advocacy was always about making the Filipino negosyante smarter. An entrepreneur is someone who is innovative and solutions-oriented and Lopez believes that if MSMEs had the right tools and guidance given to them, growth and progress will become exponential.

Citing a product of the Go Negosyo Act, Lopez shared that the 460 Negosyo Centers nationwide has already spread the access to money, mentorship, and market. This spread of financial support, market access, skills and knowledge have effectively created better equipped and better informed entrepreneurs.

Lopez believes that the current ecosystem that is emerging wherein the public and the private are actively engaging in scaling up the micro and small is bringing to life the advocacy of smarter entrepreneurs nationwide.

Prosperity for All Summit Session 1: Creating an Enabling Environment in Achieving Prosperity for All. In photo (L-R) Dr. William Dar (InangLupa Movement), Sen. Bam Aquino, Former President and Cong. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Rami Sharaf (The Royal Group, Cambodia) and Cathy Yang (moderator).

Prosperity for All Summit Session 1: Creating an Enabling Environment in Achieving Prosperity for All. In photo (L-R) Dr. William Dar (InangLupa Movement), Sen. Bam Aquino, Former President and Cong. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, Rami Sharaf (The Royal Group, Cambodia) and Cathy Yang (moderator).

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Be a partner for change and become a mentor for entrepreneurship in ASEAN! Visit www.aseanmentors.org and fill out the application form online.

Myanmar’s Finance Minister Kyaw Win Promotes Education for ASEAN MSMEs

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
Myanmar’s Union Minister for Planning and Finance His Excellency Kyaw Win.

Myanmar’s Union Minister for Planning and Finance His Excellency Kyaw Win.

H.E. Kyaw Win, Union Finance Minister of Myanmar, delivered a speech in the Prosperity for All Summit on behalf Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

During his message, Kyaw Win gave recognition to the ASEAN Business Advisory Council’s initiative to empower micro, small and medium enterprises. He emphasised the agency of the MSMEs in the economic agenda of the ASEAN Community.

Due to integration, Kyaw Win said, the region has become less susceptible to crises and consequently, more valuable to the global economy. He then stated the private sector’s role in ensuring the commitment of the region to growth and cooperation. As such, an overall theme to Kyaw Win’s message was closer coordination and cooperation amongst governments and the private sector in order to drive growth and integration.

The MSMEs has been a key driver in ASEAN’s progress as they have drawn more interest to the region and account for a lot of our region’s GDP contribution  and employment. Ultimately, Kyaw Win’s message in light of Prosperity for All was to equip and educate the MSMEs in the ASEAN in order to narrow development gaps  across the ASEAN.

VP Leni Speaks on Behalf of the Last, the Least and the Lost

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017
Vice President Leni Robredo presented ways on how we can create an inclusive environment for micro and small entrepreneurs. She said, “This is why putting the welfare of MSMEs at the center of ASEAN’s agenda – essentially inclusive growth – is the challenge of our time.”

Vice President Leni Robredo presented ways on how we can create an inclusive environment for micro and small entrepreneurs. She said, “This is why putting the welfare of MSMEs at the center of ASEAN’s agenda – essentially inclusive growth – is the challenge of our time.”

In her stirring address to the most powerful and influential in the business community of ASEAN, Vice President of the Philippines Leni Robredo brought up the challenge of making “prosperity for all” centered on the poor.

Echoing the statements of Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and ASEAN Business Advisory Council Chairman Joey Concepcion and Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, Robredo also cited the promising future of ASEAN as one of the world’s largest economies. With this promise, Robredo said, is the true challenge of making the welfare of MSMEs and inclusive growth the center of the ASEAN’s agenda.

Robredo called into attention that at the other side of the growingly prosperous ASEAN is the startling fact that we are still home to many of the world’s poorest. If prosperity is not trickling down, then the problems of our brothers from the West, such as the crumbling of the European Union, will be inevitable for our region as well. This is why creating inclusive business environments is imperative in addressing growing gap between the powerful and the powerless.

With agricultural being one of the industries that directly impacts the poor, Robredo cites inclusive programs, both by public and private institutions, that have achieved positive change in the lives of farmers and fisherfolk. Examples included the World Food Programme’s Zero Hunger Program in Robredo’s former district Camarines Sur and Jollibee’s incorporation of farmers into their supply chain.

To close, Robredo highlighted the role of convergence in the public and private sectors across the ASEAN, in order to lasting prosperity for all. In a final reminder to the business community and government leaders, she voiced out that what happens to the last, the least and the lost is what will truly matter in the long-run.

Malaysian Prime Minister Razak Wants to Make ASEAN “Real & Relevant” to All

Monday, May 8th, 2017
Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak delivered the keynote speech in the morning session of the summit. His Excellency Prime Minister Razak said that ASEAN must “raise awareness… and to make it feel real, relevant, and tangible, to all our citizens.”

Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak delivered the keynote speech in the morning session of the summit. His Excellency Prime Minister Razak said that ASEAN must “raise awareness… and to make it feel real, relevant, and tangible, to all our citizens.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia delivered the first keynote address at the recently held summit hosted by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) for MSME development. His speech focused on making the very theme of the event, “prosperity for all” a reality.

Painting a picture of the current economic landscape of the ASEAN, Razak gave positive indications that highlight the continued growth and progress ASEAN has schieved in its 50 years of existence. In fact, the ASEAN as a regional bloc is poised to become a US$2.7 trillion economy and the fourth largest in the world by 2050 (Razak said some experts even predict this happening by 2030).

With these optimistic projections, as Razak posited, comes the challenge of making them happen. Amongst the challenges towards ensured economic prosperity for our region such as trade barriers and the facilitation of further intra-ASEAN trade, is the most pressing issue of eliminating the rising non-tarrif barriers and measures.

To address these challenges, Razak brought the spotlight to the MSMEs — the heart of the summit and the backbone of the ASEAN economies. In Malaysia, Razak said SMEs accounted for 97% of their businesses and contribute 36% of their country’s GDP. Malaysia has taken great steps in ensuring that wealth and progress are felt by all their people — as Malaysia continues to prosper their incidence of poverty has shrunk into an infinitesimal 0.6%.

Razak also lauded the Philippines, the ASEAN-BAC and Go Negosyo for giving special attention to bring prosperity for all segments of society. Most importantly, Razak gave recognition to the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network. As MSMEs comprise more than 90% of all ASEAN companies, having them exposed to greater opportunities and to better management methods from big companies.

In hopes of making the regional bloc and all its benefits real to all ASEAN citizens, Razak asserted the call to make prosperity and wealth shared to all. To ensure the stability and further growth of the region, the ASEAN must become meaningful to all citizens and this can only be done through actualizing prosperity for all.

ASEAN BAC Brings Prosperity for All

Monday, May 1st, 2017
Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak posed for a picture with the members of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council led by its Chair Joey Concepcion. His Excellency Razak discussed areas where ASEAN has improved through the past years and Malaysia’s development programs for their micro, small, and medium enterprises. He also commended the work of Go Negosyo in socializing economic growth through entrepreneurship promotion. Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Concepcion expressed his gratitude to His Excellency for attending the summit witnessed by more than 1000 guests.

Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak posed for a picture with the members of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council led by its Chair Joey Concepcion. His Excellency Razak discussed areas where ASEAN has improved through the past years and Malaysia’s development programs for their micro, small, and medium enterprises. He also commended the work of Go Negosyo in socializing economic growth through entrepreneurship promotion. Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Concepcion expressed his gratitude to His Excellency for attending the summit witnessed by more than 1000 guests.

MANILA, 28 APRIL 2017 – State leaders, public sector representatives, business leaders and various enablers from the ASEAN all gathered at the City of Dreams Manila’s Grand Ballroom during the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC)’s Prosperity for All Summit headed by ASEAN-BAC Chair Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion III. Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak of Malaysia and Prime Minster General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) of Thailand were the honorable guests of the summit. Vice President of the Philippines.Leni Robredo also did a keynote speech. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Sen. Bam Aquino, Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña all joined the discussion on helping micro entrepreneurs.

The summit focusing on micro, small and medium entrepreneurs (MSME) development was attended by more than 1,000 delegates from across the ASEAN region. Five sessions were conducted tackling topics such as driving growth through trade, services and agriculture; strengthening and opening up markets; funding and financial inclusion; technology and innovation; and most notably the ASEAN-BAC’s initiative called the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).

“This event and its theme prosperity for all is the most important objective the ASEAN should hope to achieve—leaving no nation behind and growing together, hand-in-hand, as ASEAN brothers. Inclusivity is the reason why you have all been invited here today,” said ASEAN-BAC Chair Concepcion

ASEAN BAC Chair Joey Concepcion

ASEAN BAC Chair Joey Concepcion

Prime Mnister Dati Sri Najib Razak of Malaysia said during his speech, “Ladies and Gentlemen, another challenge that ASEAN faces, and we should bear it in mind particularly in this 50th anniversary year, is the need both to raise awareness of ASEAN and to make it feel real, relevant and tangible to all our citizens.”

“For our Community to be real, it must be something that is part of our people’s lives. It must be something that touches their hearts. ASEAN must be seen as a source of cohesion, solidarity, support, unity, friendship and strength and of course greater prosperity (…) As we celebrate a half century of ASEAN, what better way for us to do so than working towards making the theme of this summit – Prosperity for All – into a reality,” he added.

Vice President Leni Robredo also addressed the theme of prosperity and inclusivity in her speech: “Putting the welfare of micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises at the center of ASEAN’s agenda—essentially inclusive growth—is the challenge of our time. I believe that unless progress reaches the farthest, poorest barangays, our job is not yet done. (…) So as we go back to our drawing boards to think about coming up with inclusive business models, or how to rethink our structures and institutions, let us all remember that the final scorecard is what happens to the last, the least, and the lost. Prosperity for all and inclusive growth will heal our conflicted world.”

Vice President Leni Robredo presented ways on how we can create an inclusive environment for micro and small entrepreneurs. She said, “This is why putting the welfare of MSMEs at the center of ASEAN’s agenda – essentially inclusive growth – is the challenge of our time.”

Vice President Leni Robredo presented ways on how we can create an inclusive environment for micro and small entrepreneurs. She said, “This is why putting the welfare of MSMEs at the center of ASEAN’s agenda – essentially inclusive growth – is the challenge of our time.”

Thailand Prime Minister General Chan-o-Cha (Ret.), was the final speaker of the Summit. In closing, he said “I commend the ASEAN Business Advisory Council’s constructive role in organizing today’s Summit, especially for initiating a network of mentors who will help design world-class training modules for ASEAN MSMEs. With rising challenges in the global market, we need to focus more efforts on the development of human capital. (…) I hope you will all be inspired to come together to support, promote and develop MSMEs in this people-centered Community and work together for the benefit of all and of future generations, while leaving no one behind.”

Thailand Prime Minister H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) gave the closing keynote message at the Prosperity for All Summit held last April 28, 2017. In photo (L-R) Dr. Robert Yap (ASEAN BAC Singapore), George Barcelon (ASEAN BAC Philippines), Teresita Sy-Coson (ASEAN BAC Philippines), ASEAN BAC Chairman Joey Concepcion, H. E. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.), Arin Jira (ASEAN BAC Thailand), Moe Kyaw (ASEAN BAC Myanmar), Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohd Munir Bin Abdul (ASEAN BAC Malaysia), Robert Yap Min Choy (ASEAN BAC Singapore), and Dr. Doan Duy Khuong (ASEAN BAC Vietnam).

Thailand Prime Minister H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) gave the closing keynote message at the Prosperity for All Summit held last April 28, 2017. In photo (L-R) Dr. Robert Yap (ASEAN BAC Singapore), George Barcelon (ASEAN BAC Philippines), Teresita Sy-Coson (ASEAN BAC Philippines), ASEAN BAC Chairman Joey Concepcion, H. E. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.), Arin Jira (ASEAN BAC Thailand), Moe Kyaw (ASEAN BAC Myanmar), Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohd Munir Bin Abdul (ASEAN BAC Malaysia), Robert Yap Min Choy (ASEAN BAC Singapore), and Dr. Doan Duy Khuong (ASEAN BAC Vietnam).

Gathering of the Leading Minds in Business

The summit’s panelists were a pool of the top enablers in business across different sectors in the region. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was amongst the esteemed panelists who participated in the summit along with: Philippine Senators Bam Aquino and Miguel Zubiri; Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez; Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña; Myanmar Union Minister for Planning and Finance His Excellency Kyaw Win; Cambodia Minister of Commerce His Excellency Pan Sorasak; Former Department of Agriculture Secretary and President of InangLupa Movement Dr. William Dar; Senior Vice President of The Royal Group (Cambodia) Mr. Rami Sharaf; Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry President George Barcelon; President of  of the Singapore Manufacturing Foundation and Sakae Holding Ltd. Founder and President Douglas Foo; DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado; Landbank of the Philippines President Alex Buenaventura; Silverlake Axis Group (Malaysia) CEO & Managing Director Dr. Raymond Kwong; Center for Agriculture and Rural Develoment (CARD, Inc.) Founder and Managing Director Dr. Jaime Aristotle Alip; Plug and Play Tech Center (USA) Co-Founder Jojo Flores; Lazada Philippines CEO Inanc Balci; YCH Group Executive Chairman and ASEAN-BAC Singapore Chair Dr. Robert Yap; SM Investment Corporation Vice Chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson; Bank Muamalat Berhad Chairman and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chair Dr. Mohd Munir Bin Abdul Majid; and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Chairman Manny V.  Pangilinan.

The summit was hosted by BBC World News Anchor Rico Hizon, who also acted as moderator during the summit along with Cathy Yang (ANC), Coco Alcuaz, Pia Hontiveros-Pagkalinawan (CNN Philippines), and Maria Ressa (Rappler).

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Singapore’s Douglas Foo on MSMEs & the Global Market

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017
douglas_foo

MR. DOUGLAS FOO, Founder and Chairman, Sakae Holdings Ltd / President, Singapore Manufacturing Federation/ ASEAN Business Advisory Council (Singapore)

A business leader and celebrated philanthropist hailing from the prosperous nation of Singapore, Douglas Foo is a recipient of various awards and accolades due to his outstanding management and entrepreneurial efforts. In 2013, he was awarded the Public Service Star Award from His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Singapore and has been the country’s representative as member of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council since 2012. Beforehand, Foo has received numerous accolades—amongst them are the ASEAN Youth Entrepreneur Award (2004) and the ASEAN-China Young Entrepreneur Award (2011).

As the Founder & Chairman of Sakae Holdings, Ltd, Foo is well-recognized amongst the top business circles in the region. His company started out with Sakae Sushi in 1977 and has grown into a global food conglomerate with over 200 outlets worldwide. Foo at the helm of the Group, spearheaded the growth and expansion of Sakae Holdings. No stranger to the global market and building a business from the ground up, we asked Foo about his impressions on MSMEs, prepping for the global market, and the challenges this sets up for the ASEAN.

PFA Summit Panelists Per Session_02
Q: How can the business sector and national governments empower the MSMEs to better position them for the global market?

Foo: MSMEs are in exciting times because of the many opportunities created by globalization and technological advancements. There are two areas which our MSMEs can be empowered:

Collaboration – Our governments have laid a strong foundational framework of diplomatic ties for our businesses especially MSMEs to leverage in forging business alliances across ASEAN for mutual benefits. However, there could be more assistance in facilitating collaborations, whether it is helping small companies to collaborate with the larger ones or other MSMEs, or on the global front, with other MSMEs around the world. Such collaborative measures will empower and create opportunities.

Innovation – Our MSMEs are grappling with all these new technologies that are coming on stream. It is a disruption for most, but at the same time, it is a great opportunity where these enterprises can embark on scaling up into far larger businesses where they may not have been able to do without technology as an enabler. In Singapore, our government is providing assistance through various schemes and programmes for MSMEs to adopt innovative solutions with technological levers to remain competitive and relevant in a global market.

That said, MSMEs have to change their mindsets towards change and adopting new technology to innovate or to collaborate to internationalize. They must accept that they have limited resources and need to collaborate with other enterprises to augment manpower expertise and financial resource in a changing economy.

Q: In coming up with an “ASEAN” product, what areas for collaboration between the ASEAN Member States (AMS) do you see are readiest?

Foo: One area most ready is cyber security especially with the rise of the digital economy. If the whole of ASEAN can become more cyber-secure, it will become an attractive place to do business, and this is something which becomes a competitive advantage for this region as we move towards Industry 4.0 and the IoT.

3) In setting up regulations for the growing One ASEAN market, what do you suppose are the most pertinent challenges that AMS need to address?

Foo: The most pertinent challenge is the non-tariff barriers. Presently there are different standards and regulations within AMS. There needs to be in place a recognized ASEAN standard and agreement. For instance, Halal food definition varies from country to country within this region. In some countries, this certification is not recognized and it affects the seamless movement of goods especially at the customs clearance point.

Prosperity for All Summit Web Image
The Prosperity for All Summit is organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, headed by its current Chair and the Philippine Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The summit is a one-day event focused on “Driving growth through micro and small entrepreneurs in Trade, Services and Agriculture”, and will be held in the City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2017.

An Agricultural Take on MSME Development with Dr. William Dar

Monday, April 24th, 2017
InangLupa Movement President & Former Department of Agriculture Secretary Dr. William Dar.

InangLupa Movement President & Former Department of Agriculture Secretary Dr. William Dar.

The ASEAN region’s dynamic landscape and climate has led it to become an agricultural haven. In fact, the ASEAN is considered as one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. We are the leading exporters of rice, fruit, vegetable and coffee and majority of ASEAN countries depend heavily on the agricultural sector.

To shed light on the agricultural sector and its impact on MSME development, Dr. William D. Dar shares his insights on agripreneurship (agriculture + entrepreneurship) in the context of ASEAN. Dr. Dar is a champion of the poor, especially small farmers and fisherfolks. Recently, he was awarded The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award in cognizance of his servant-leadership, as he transformed the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) from a struggling institute to one of the top performing centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

He also founded the InangLupa Movement—an advocacy group that calls for agricultural modernization and rural industrialization anchored on four pillars: inclusiveness, science-based, resilient, and market-oriented development. As a champion of agripreneurship, he actively encourages the youth to become farmer entrepreneurs (agripreneurs).

“Realizing the need to engage youth in agribusiness, InangLupa partnered with a group of visionaries and launched the YEF Phils [Young Entrepreneur-Farmers Philippines] late last year. YEF Phils is a private sector initiative working in partnership with GoNegosyo. YEF Phils envisions ‘A food secure, resilient, and prosperous Philippines propelled by empowered young farmers-entrepreneurs,’ and whose mission is ‘To mentor and empower young farmers to become successful entrepreneurs in high value agriculture,’” Dr. Dar shares.

Another noteworthy initiative in light of agripreneruship is the AgriBusiness Incubation (ABI) Program. Dr. Dar expounds that the “ABI is a program undertaken by ICRISAT which I headed in India. It is a unique and highly flexible combination of business development processes, infrastructure, and people – designed to nurture MSMEs by helping them to survive and grow through the difficult and vulnerable early stages of development. ABI also provides considerable management support for many MSMEs and investments in technology transfer and marketing. Based on the success of the ABI program undertaken by ICRISAT, the following components should be put into place: (1) technology consulting; (2) capacity building and training; (3) access to funding; (4) business facilitation; and (5) infrastructure and facilities.”

Agripreneurship can bolster rural development and create sustainable economies in many rural areas. For micro, small and medium enterprises, agripreneurship and its game-changing potential can create a culture of economic self-sufficiency for the many ASEAN citizens that rely on this sector.

Dr. Dar stresses that an “Inclusive Market-Oriented Development or IMOD strategy should guide MSMEs in agriculture. IMOD is a development pathway in which value-adding innovations (technical, policy, institutional and others) enable the poor to capture larger rewards from markets, while managing their risks. IMOD builds on four powerful principles: (1) resiliency; (2) markets motivate growth; (3) innovation accelerates growth; and (4) inclusiveness ensures that the poor participate and benefit.”

A challenge however to the progress of MSMEs and agripreneurship is how to make them more competitive. “There are only 8,195 MSMEs in agriculture, forestry, and fishing or approximately 1% of the total 896,839 MSMEs,” Dr. Dar says. Furthermore, not many farmers are aware and interested in transitioning into agriprneurship. “Farmers must be given access to credit, capacity training, links to manufacture and trade, etc.”

Lastly, Dr. Dar imparts that the ASEAN can focus on certain regulations to further the agripreneurship agenda. These include improving and streamlining Biosafety, GAP (Good Agricultural Practices), SPS (Sanitary and Photosanitary Measures), and HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) compliance, creating institutional mechanisms to support exporters through public-private investments, and reducing discrepancies of national food control systems among individual ASEAN Member States.

Prosperity for All Summit Web Image
PFA Summit Panelists Per Session_01
The Prosperity for All Summit is organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, headed by its current Chair and the Philippine Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The summit is a a one-day event focused on “Driving growth through micro and small entrepreneurs in Trade, Services and Agriculture”, and will be held in the City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2017.

ASEAN BAC & ASEAN Japan Business Council Established ASEAN-Japan Innovation Network

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017
ASEAN Business Advisory Chairman Joey Concepcion and Vice Chairman of ASEAN Japan Business Council and Chairman of Sumitomo Corporation Kazuo Ohmori presented the signed Memorandum of Cooperation for the ASEAN Japan Innovation Network (AJIN). AJIN is a private sector led initiative for promoting innovation across sectors and industries including digital business platforms for MSMES and emerging industries. Witnessing the presentation are the ASEAN Economic Ministers led by the 2017 Chair, Department of Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez.

ASEAN Business Advisory Chairman Joey Concepcion and Vice Chairman of ASEAN Japan Business Council and Chairman of Sumitomo Corporation Kazuo Ohmori presented the signed Memorandum of Cooperation for the ASEAN Japan Innovation Network (AJIN). AJIN is a private sector led initiative for promoting innovation across sectors and industries including digital business platforms for MSMES and emerging industries. Witnessing the presentation are the ASEAN Economic Ministers led by the 2017 Chair, Department of Trade and Industry Sec. Ramon Lopez.

The ASEAN Business Advisory Council, led by its Chairman, Joey Concepcion III, and the ASEAN Business Club, represented by its Chair, Tan Sri Dr. Munir, joined forces with leading Japanese private business organizations in establishing the ASEAN-Japan Innovation Network (AJIN) in Tokyo last April 7, 2017. AJIN aims to promote innovation across key sectors in ASEAN especially in support of emerging new digital driven industries through collaboration and cooperation between ASEAN-Japan businesses.

This collaboration was highlighted by the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation.  Mr. Concepcion representing ASEAN business and Mr. Kazuo Ohmori, Vice Chair of Asean Japan Business Council led the signing of the MoC.  Nine collaborating Japanese institutions co-signed the MoC namely: 1) ASEAN Japan Business Council, 2) The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 3) KEIDANREN (Japan Business Federation), 4) KEIZAI DOYUKAI (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), 5) Japan Foreign Trade Council, 6) Japan Association of New Economy, 7) Japan External Trade Organization, 8) Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in ASEAN, and 9) Japan-ASEAN Innovation Support Network.

The signing of memorandum of cooperation happened last April 7, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.

The signing of memorandum of cooperation happened last April 7, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.

In the photo (L-R): Mr. Jun Hasegawa, Representative Director of Japan-ASEAN Innovation Support Network; Mr. Tsukasa Kawazu, Executive Managing Director of Japan Foreign Trade Council, Inc.; Dr. Kiyohiko Ito, Managing Director of KEIZAI DOYUKAI; Mr. Satoshi Mukuta, Senior Managing Director of KEIDANREN; Mr. Kazuo Ohmori, Vice Chairman of The Japan Section of the ASEAN-Japan Business Council; Mr. Joey Concepcion, Chairman of ASEAN Business Advisory Council; Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Munir, Chair of ASEAN BAC Malaysia; Dr. Yuri Sato, Executive Vice President of Japan External Trade Organization; and Mr. Takashi Ueno, Vice Chairman of The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In the photo (L-R): Mr. Jun Hasegawa, Representative Director of Japan-ASEAN Innovation Support Network; Mr. Tsukasa Kawazu, Executive Managing Director of Japan Foreign Trade Council, Inc.; Dr. Kiyohiko Ito, Managing Director of KEIZAI DOYUKAI; Mr. Satoshi Mukuta, Senior Managing Director of KEIDANREN; Mr. Kazuo Ohmori, Vice Chairman of The Japan Section of the ASEAN-Japan Business Council; Mr. Joey Concepcion, Chairman of ASEAN Business Advisory Council; Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Munir, Chair of ASEAN BAC Malaysia; Dr. Yuri Sato, Executive Vice President of Japan External Trade Organization; and Mr. Takashi Ueno, Vice Chairman of The Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The signed MoC was thereafter presented formally at the start of a full packed ASEAN-Japan Open Innovation Forum with the presence and strong support of all the ASEAN Economic Ministers led by the 2017 AEM Chair Ramon Lopez of the Philippines.

The AJIN initiative was a culmination of Japan’s private sector engagement and dialogue with new industries which started in Naypyidaw, Myanmar in 2014 (on Green Healthcare), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2015 (on Venture Start up) and Bangkok, Thailand in 2016 (Service Sector).  For 2017, the AJIN serves as an ideal platform to bring about concrete programs in support of the Philippine government’s theme of an Innovation-driven economy and ASEAN BAC’s focus on MSME Empowerment and Inclusive Business towards Prosperity for All.

Are We Up For It?: Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid from Malaysia Weighs in on ASEAN Integration and MSME Development

Monday, April 17th, 2017
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Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid of ASEAN BAC Malaysia.

On April 28, 2017, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid will join ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Chair Joey Concepcion, Philippine Senator Miguel Zubiri, ASEAN-BAC Member Tessie Sy-Coson, and Filipino Tycoon and Philanthropist Manuel V. Pangilinan as panelists for a session moderated by BBC World News anchor Rico Hizon entitled Call to Action: Initiating ASEAN Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network at the Prosperity for All Summit in the City of Dreams, Manila.

A well-recognized figure in ASEAN discourse, Dr. Majid was the previous Chair of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Malaysia.

The ASEAN Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) is a private-public partnership platform where mentors and world class teaching modules for micro, small and medium enterprise empowerment can be developed and actively shared among ASEAN Member States (AMS).

“AMEN is an excellent initiative by Go Negosyo and the Philippines,” Dr. Majid says, “The concentrated effort and focus will help MSMEs reach out and expand their businesses. There is no free lunch of course, but the guidance afforded them can provide linkages if there is a business fit. The mentor with his suite of activities may even find MSMEs that can supply, produce, market and sell goods and services for his business empire.”

Indeed, AMEN will open up a world of opportunities for entrepreneurs all over the region. “Information is king. First, to market is not just an expression. We must be aware that what ASEAN is into is free market and competition. This is the ethic of the ASEAN Economic Community,” Dr. Majid shares. “What initiatives like the mentorship program and the ASEAN MSME master plan are trying to do is to create as level a playing field as possible. But there is no avoiding there will be winners and losers. Are we up for it?

This raises the query of how exactly can MSMEs be further capacitated asides from mentorship and skills training. “Access to finance is key,” Dr. Majid stresses. “New forms of availability beyond the banks through e-finance platforms domestic and cross-border should be encouraged if ASEAN is serious about helping MSMEs.” Dr. Majid depicts a pragmatic picture of why finance is a primary focus area for the ASEAN. “[Financial services’] availability at reasonable rates would provide a solution to many other areas in which MSMEs are weak: good management and account-keeping; better use of technology in internal systems, production and sales; improving the standard of English, which is ASEAN’s business language (although there should be assistance through translations of more important information) – many of the things the mentorship program is designed to achieve.”

Prosperity for All Summit Web Image
The Prosperity for All Summit is organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, headed by its current Chair and the Philippine Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The summit is a one-day event focused on “Driving growth through micro and small entrepreneurs in Trade, Services and Agriculture”, and will be held in the City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2017.

To register, accomplish the online form at www.tinyurl.com/AseanProsperityforAll-Public. For additional information on the Prosperity for All Summit, please contact: (+632) 6315001, email info@asean-bac.org, or visit www.gonegosyo.net.