LUANG PRABANG, 5 April 2018 – Earlier today the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) began the process of handing over the administration of the ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprises Academy (or the academy) to the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) through the Philippines. It marked an important step in the committee’s effort to promote productivity, technology and innovation for MSMEs in ASEAN.

The academy is a self-help and self-paced online learning tool for SMEs, offering free courses and resources on topics such as financing/accounting, management, marketing and technology to help ASEAN MSMEs to grow.

“The ASEAN SME Online Academy will continue to be a useful tool for MSMEs in ASEAN to increase their capacities and competitiveness in facing challenges especially in the digital economy,” said Lor Sathya, the ACCMSME Chair. “Through the generous support of the Philippines to operate and manage the academy, we will continue to develop this important resource and ensure the best use of the academy to support the competitiveness and dynamism of the region’s small businesses,” he added.

At the handover ceremony, Jerry T. Clavesillas, Director of the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines (DTI-BSMED), said “the handover of the academy is very timely considering the launch of ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) programme as our flagship initiative with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.” “Therefore, AMEN’s objective as the regional mentorship program for promoting MSME capacities could be facilitated and enhanced by this online platform,” added Clavesillas.

Within two months, on behalf of ACCMSME, the DTI-BSMED will operate and manage the academy in close collaboration with the private sector under the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). Under its new management, the academy’s offerings will continue to be upgraded and expanded.

“We are pleased that the academy has become a positive and sustainable factor in the development of ASEAN MSMEs and look forward to working closely with ACCMSME in promoting and expanding the Academy,” said Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, the Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of US-ABC. “The American business community remains committed to supporting the growth and competitiveness of ASEAN MSMEs,” he added.

In addition to developing the academy, USAID’s ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment Project (USAID ACTI) trained a network of 191 people from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam to be able to support others in the use of the academy. These facilitators, who work for SME business enablers such as trade and entrepreneur associations, educational institutions and business development service providers, are now integrating the academy into their own training programs and bringing the benefits of the academy to a wide range of SMEs across the region.

“The United States Government is pleased to have taken a leading role in developing the Academy as part of the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs. We look forward to ASEAN’s continued operation of the Academy and investing in its future development,” said Rebecca Acuña, USAID/Regional Development Mission for Asia.

The academy is supported by ASEAN and the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, a public-private partnership launched in March 2014 between USAID and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

The academy, http://www.asean-sme-academy.org, currently offers 52 courses and 360 links to resources for SMEs. As of 2018, over 50,000 visitors have visited the site, and nearly 3,000 of these are active users regularly accessing new knowledge and skills that global companies and industry leaders have shared in the form of courses. Contributors include US-ABC member companies such as Baker & McKenzie, Facebook, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, PayPal, HP Inc, Procter & Gamble and international organizations like the International Labour Organization.

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