The US-ASEAN Business Council established a training program for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in ASEAN following a request by the ASEAN Economic Ministers in 2011. Following the success of this program, the US-ABC partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, to launch with US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs in March of 2014. The Alliance mobilizes the resources of major U.S. corporations and USAID, particularly its ASEAN Trade and Investment Connectivity project, to support two main objectives. The first is to support the efforts of ASEAN SMEs to become more competitive in domestic markets and to take better advantage of opportunities provided by the ASEAN Economic Community. The second is to support the efforts of high-performance SMEs to become regional business leaders and world-class suppliers in the global value chains in their own right.
In August 2014, the Alliance submitted a report to ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM): “Beyond AEC 2015: Policy Recommendations for ASEAN SME Competitiveness” at the 46th AEM Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. The report provided the Alliance’s perspective on opportunities and challenges faced by ASEAN SMEs, as well as recommendations to help ASEAN realize its considerable economic potential.
By August 2015, the Alliance has given trainings to over 3,500 SMEs in all 10 ASEAN Member Countries. The Business Alliance is also establishing an ASEAN SME Academy – an online portal with interactive training and mentoring resources and business information for ASEAN SMEs, to further support its effort to enhance SMEs competitiveness in Southeast Asia.
In addition to company support for specific programs, the Business Alliance is supported by UPS.