US-Asean business council backs online academy to empower SMEs

MANILA  -The US-Asean Business Council signed an agreement with the Philippines to continue collaborative efforts to develop small and medium enterprises (SMEs), promoting the use of an online academy to help them scale up.

The leading advocacy group for American businesses in Southeast Asia said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), as well as various other parties to promote this initiative.

“We believe with the amended MOU, the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) SME Academy platform could expedite the digital transformation in the region for the SMEs, considering they are the backbone of the economy,” said the council’s chief operations officer, Margaret Hanson-Muse.

“Moving forward, the US-Asean Business Council 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 said further.

The academy was first publicly launched in 2016 as an online learning platform for SMEs and as part of a collaborative initiative between the US-Asean Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs and ACCMSME for the implementation of a strategic action development plan for the years 2016 to 2025.

The academy is an official Asean platform comanaged by the council, the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development under the DTI, and the Philippine Trade and Training Center-Global MSME Academy.

It is a public and private sector partnership aimed at empowering SMEs in the Asean region, especially when it comes to digital transformation. As of April 2023, there are more than 13,000 active visitors and 3,400 users accessing the academy daily, according to the council.

There are 110 courses offered by 21 public and private institutions. Contributors include Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Baker McKenzie, International Labor Organization, Cisco, Dell, FedEx, Google, Corteva, Hawlett Packard, Inclusive Business Action Network, Mastercard, Meta, Microsoft, OpenSAP, PayPal, Salesforce, UL, Visa, World Intellectual Property Organization and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative.

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