JAKARTA, 30 September 2020 – “Crisis is the best time to transform challenges into opportunity,” shares Louise Mabulo, founder of the Cacao Project, to participants of the interactive ASEAN Youth and COVID-19: Success Stories and the Way Forward’ webinar series held on 28 September.

As a business champion, Louise provided insights and encouragement to hundreds of youth participants on how they can be social entrepreneurs. Cacao Project is a social venture aimed at equipping farmers for sustainable success, ensuring food security, and establishing resilient livelihoods.

President of the ASEAN University Student Council Union  Marie Lan Anh Ngo moderated the 3rd episode of the Youth webinar and was joined by Project Lead in Asia Pacific of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Thuy Nguyen and the ASEAN Secretariat’s Head of Education, Youth and Sports Division Mary Anne Therese Manuson.

Online polls taken during the webinar revealed that most ASEAN Member States’ youth –46% of whom are students– enjoy studying and interacting through digital platforms. They acknowledged that the new normal is challenging and they are most concerned about health.

Nearly half of the audience expressed hopes to set up their own business in the future, be a social entrepreneur, work in a start-up and social enterprises, to create more jobs in their community. Participants also shared that in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of confidence, funding, support and guidance from a mentor would also prevent them from starting their own business.

Nguyen pointed out that the webinar poll results were relatively consistent with the WEF ASEAN Youth  survey findings. On that basis, she emphasised the important role of ASEAN governments in providing stimulus packages for young entrepreneurs during the pandemic.

Tyovan Widagdo, founder of Bahaso, was the speaker for the Education and the Future of Work session. Bahaso is a language learning mobile app with over 100,000 users. The app was used by Indonesia’s President to track infrastructure systems. Meanwhile, in that session, Assistant HR Development Manager of Myanmar Red Cross Zwe Ye Htet spoke from the recruiters’ perspective and shared views on recruitment preference post-COVID-19.

Co-Founder of Reef Stakes® Malaysia Kaelyn Hui Ling Liew advised the youth to stay optimistic during the new normal. She is an advocate of integrating gamification and creativity in empowering individuals to take an active role in environmental conservation.

At the end of the webinar, Marie shared a set of key takeaways with the audience, noting that ASEAN youth should develop self-discipline, become a life-long learner and be optimistic in adjusting to the new normal.

The ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN Foundation, ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies organised the four-part Interactive Webinar Series on ASEAN Youth and COVID-19: Success Stories and The Way Forward.

As a cross-sectoral initiative under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community pillar, the webinar series aims to contribute to the implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Youth 2021–2025 and the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity Action Plan in mainstreaming biodiversity in human health and wellbeing. It is also envisaged to support the ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education Action Plan in fostering youth’s active participation  in promoting environmental protection.