MANILA, Philippines – About 143 pioneer mentors across 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Sunday, November 12, launched the largest mentoring program in the region.
The program is dubbed the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).
ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC) Chairman Joey Concepcion said AMEN’s main purpose is to ensure economies are geared toward inclusive business, where micro, small, and, medium enterprises (MSMEs) have the knowledge and tools to penetrate global value chains.
“Organizations like ASEAN, APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), they strengthen relationships; trust is built, when trust is built, then we can all work together as one big region,” Concepcion said during the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) in Pasay City. (READ: Duterte calls for stronger ties between APEC, ASEAN)
About 48 Filipino entrepreneurs were chosen to mentor MSMEs in ASEAN. They include Concepcion, who is also the chief of listed RFM Corporation; Potato Corner president Jose Magsaysay Jr; Credit Information Corporation president Jaime Garchitorena; and Tokyo Tempura chief executive officer Jorge Wieneke.
“Creating prosperity for all was the theme I proposed for the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC),” Concepcion said.
Jose EB Antonio, United States President Donald Trump’s partner in a local property venture, echoed Concepcion’s statement, saying ASEAN has been “in the radar screen of many investors in the world,” and equipping MSMEs with tools and knowledge will help them cash in on the opportunity.
The ASEAN BAC estimates that the region currently has 332 million people living in poverty, and inclusive business companies have the opportunity to tap a majority of these people. (READ: ASEAN business summit to discuss reduction of non-tariff barriers)
“When we talk about inclusive business, it means helping those who need help. It is our role in life to help those who need it most, and sometimes when I look at my role as chair [of the ASEAN BAC], all of these things wouldn’t happen if God hasn’t guided us,” Concepcion said.
According to the ASEAN BAC, MSMEs comprise the bulk of enterprises in the region’s aggregate regional economy, accounting for over 90% of all the domestic firms and 75% to 90% of the non-agricultural workforce.
“Money and market is important. But without mentorship, money and market won’t work,” the ASEAN BAC chairman said.
To fully achieve inclusive economic growth, Concepcion highlighted the importance of large companies embracing small entrepreneurs as part of their supply chain.
That is why the ASEAN BAC packed close to hundreds of ASEAN’s business elite into the Enrique Razon Jr-owned Solaire ballroom that night, with SM Investments Corporation’s Tessie Sy-Coson, Century Properties’ Antonio, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr all sharing insights with Southeast Asian government officials.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also graced the event and praised all 143 ASEAN mentors.
“Saludo po ako sa inyo (I salute you)!” the Philippine president told the mentors. – Rappler.com