BANGKOK, May 23, 2023 – The US-ASEAN Business Council (the Council) attended the 15th ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) Meeting. This 15th ACCMSME meeting was the first meeting conducted in-person after the COVID-19 pandemic. The last in-person meeting was at the 9th ACCMSME Meeting in October 2019 before it was shifted to virtual during the pandemic.
During the meeting, the Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Philippines Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Trade Training Center represented by Ms. Margaret Hanson-Muse, Chief Operations Officer of the Council; Ms. Blesila A. Lantayona, Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group of Philippines Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and ACCMSME Chair for 2023; Ms. Emma C. Asusano, OIC Director and Assistant Director of the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED) under DTI; and Ms. Nelly Nita Dillera, Executive Director of the Philippine Trade and Training Center-Global MSME Academy (PTTC GMEA). The MoU demonstrated a significant commitment from the Council and ACCMSME, formalizing the continuity of collaboration for ASEAN small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the ASEAN SME Academy (the Academy). This MoU acts as an amendment from the previous MoU that was signed in 2019.
“We believe with the amended MoU, the ASEAN SME Academy platform could expedite the digital transformation in the region for the SMEs, considering they are the backbone of the economy,” said Ms. Margaret Hanson-Muse, Chief Operations Officer of the Council, during her remarks. “Moving forward, the US-ASEAN Business Councill will continue its effort to empower ASEAN SMEs through the ASEAN SME Academy and our SME Program. It is our aspiration to give necessary support and assistance to the ASEAN SMEs to better navigate their business in the digital economy along with our members,” she added.
“This renewal of commitment to implement the ASEAN SME Academy is very timely – especially after what we have all gone through in the past couple of years. When almost everyone were required to stay at home, online learning boomed to widespread popularity. Now that we have returned to face-to-face ACCMSME meetings, online learning platforms such as the ASEAN SME Academy is here to stay – and with this new MOU, we can expect to see the ASEAN SME Academy to become even better,” said Ms. Blesila A. Lantayona, Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group and Chair for ACCMSME 2023.
“The Philippine Trade Training Center - Global MSME Academy is grateful to still be a part of this ASEAN-wide initiative. With the renewed memorandum of understanding, PTTC-GMEA, in line with its very mandate, will continue to support and assist in reaching and building ASEAN MSMEs and make them globally competitive by providing a one-stop learning platform, tools, and resources available anytime and anywhere to every Southeast Asian countries,” Said PTTC-GMEA Executive Director in her message of support. “To the enterprises, let’s maximize the use of the platform and learn from the vetted practices of global companies through the modules. These will help us participate in cross border trade” she added.
The ASEAN SME Academy was first publicly launched in 2016 as an online learning platform for the ASEAN MSMEs as part of a collaborative initiative between the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs and ACCMSME for the implementation of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016 – 2025. The Academy is an official ASEAN platform, co-managed by the Council, the BSMED under Philippines Department of Trade and Industry, and the PTTC-GMEA. The Academy platform is a public and private sector partnership that aims to further empower ASEAN SMEs, especially in digital transformation.
The pandemic and the acceleration of the digital economy have particularly encouraged the Academy to better position itself in supporting ASEAN SMEs. With that in mind, the Academy underwent a revamping project in 2021, which was launched on April 8, 2022, as the ASEAN SME Academy 2.0—an upgraded version of the Academy. This re-launching of the Academy introduced a fresh new website, self-certification feature, availability in ASEAN local languages, US-ASEAN SME Community feature, and the upcoming Business Continuity and Resilience (BCR) tab provided by the USAID under IGNITE project. The MoU amendment was initiated to adjust new roles held by the Council, DTI-BSMED, and PTTC-GMEA, following changes made from the revamping process of the Academy’s website. This MoU also acts as a milestone of renewed support and partnership from the U.S. private sector to support SMEs across the region, while continuing ASEAN ownership of the Academy.
As of April 2023, there are over 13,000 active visitors and 3,400 users accessing the Academy daily. There were 110 courses offered by 21 public and private institutions for the Academy. The contributors include Adobe, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Baker McKenzie, International Labour Organization (ILO), Cisco, Dell, FedEx, Google, Corteva, Hawlett Packard, Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN), Mastercard, Meta, Microsoft, OpenSAP, PayPal, Salesforce, UL, Visa, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).
ASEAN SMEs can start learning at the Academy now by registering here: https://www.asean-sme-academy.org.
For collaboration opportunities on the ASEAN SME Academy please contact Philippines Department of Trade and Industry - Bureau of SME Development (BSMED@dti.gov.ph), Philippine Trade Training Center - Global MSME Academy (firstname.lastname@example.org), and Nugraheni Utami (email@example.com).