THE US-Asean Business Council signed an agreement with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Philippine Trade Training Center to renew their commitment to implement the Asean small and medium enterprise (SME) Academy, an Asean-wide online learning platform meant to make small merchants in the region globally competitive.
According to a statement released by the US-Asean Business Council on Tuesday, the Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Trade and Industry and Philippine Trade Training Center during the 15th Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) Meeting.
“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 US-Asean Business Council’s statement noted.
According to the Council, this agreement acts as an “amendment” from the previous MOU signed in 2019, before shifting to virtual during the pandemic.
Margaret Hanson-Muse, chief operations officer of the Council, said 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.”
“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.
Through the lens of the Philippine government, DTI Undersecretary for Regional Operations Group and Chair for ACCMSME 2023 Blesila A. Lantayona said 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.”
Lantayona recounted the events during the pandemic when almost everyone was required to stay home and 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,” Lantayona noted.
Philippine Trade Training Center-Global MSME Academy (PTTC-GMEA) Executive Director Nelly Nita Dillera said the renewed MOU will allow her agency to 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 country.
Dillera urged enterprises to maximize the use of the platform and “learn from the vetted practices of global
companies through the modules.”
She said these will help them participate in cross-border trade.
The ASEAN SME Academy was first publicly launched in 2016 as an online learning platform for the Asean MSMEs as part of azzzz 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 US-Asean Business Council noted.
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.
According to the Council, the pandemic and the acceleration of the digital economy have encouraged the Academy to better position itself in supporting ASEAN SMEs.
With that in mind, the Council noted the Academy underwent a “revamping” project in 2021, as the ASEAN SME Academy 2.0—an upgraded version of the Academy—was launched on April 8, 2022.
As of April 2023, the US-Asean Business Council said 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).