SME Developments in ASEAN

Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), including micro enterprises are integral to the economic development and growth of the ASEAN Member States. They constitute the largest number of establishments and contribute significantly to the labour force of ASEAN Member States (AMS).  SMEs account for between 88.8% and 99.9% total establishments in AMS and between 51.7% and 97.2% of total employment. The contribution of these enterprises to each AMS’ GDP is between 30% and 53% and the contribution of SMEs to exports is between 10% and 29.9%.  Hence, these enterprises are important in terms of income and employment generation, gender and youth empowerment through their diverse business participation, and their widespread presence in the non-urban and rural areas. SMEs are thus the backbone of ASEAN and SME development is fundamental towards achieving long-run and sustainable economic growth and narrowing the development gap.

The ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (SMEWG) is the ASEAN body responsible for SME development and promotion in ASEAN. Its membership is composed of the representatives from all SME Agencies of all AMS.  An SME Advisory Board comprising of both members of SME agencies and the private sector sits to enhance the public-private sector collaboration on SME activities.  The ASEAN SMEWG also holds consultations with Japan, the OECD and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.  Its work is also supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund, OECD and the USAID ASEAN Connectivity for Trade and Investment, the latter in cooperation with the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs.

The SMEWG’s work is currently governed by the Strategic Action Plan for ASEAN SME Development 2010-2015 and covers mandates as stipulated in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint.   There are several major deliverables targeted for SME under the AEC Blueprint namely the establishments of (a) a common curriculum for entrepreneurship in ASEAN; (b) a  SME service center portal; (c) an SME financial facility in each AMS; and (d) a regional program of internship scheme for staff exchanges and visits for skills training.

In 2014, the SMEWG group embarked on the task of developing the ten-year ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development (SAPSMED 2016-2025) under the post-2015 ASEAN Vision. The SAPSMED 2016-2025 serves to strengthen SMEs and micro enterprises’ engagement in an increasingly competitive economic environment and to support their growth and development through the vision of a “Globally Competitive and Innovative SMEs”, and that by 2025, ASEAN shall create more globally competitive and resilient SMEs.   The Plan’s five goals are to promote technology, productive and innovation; increase access to finance; enhance market access and internationalisation; enhance the policy and regulatory environment; and promote entrepreneurship and human capital development. This Plan was launched at the sidelines of the 27th ASEAN Summit in November 2015.

The current chair of the ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (ASEAN SMEWG) is:

Dr. Wimonkan Kosumas
Deputy Director-General 
Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP)

Click here for ASEAN SMEWG Leads