PROMISING women entrepreneurs from the Asean member-states and Japan gathered in Manila to participate in the inaugural Asean-Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Program (AJWELP) organized by the Asean Promotion Centre on Trade, Investment and Tourism, or the Asean-Japan Centre (AJC), last November 22-23.
The program was co-hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines, in collaboration with the Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), Asean Secretariat, Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and Go Negosyo. The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) supported the program as the academic partner.
The two-day program held at the AIM campus in Manila consisted four components–one-day learning program, one panel talk session, one business presentation and one networking reception.
The AJWELP started with the one-day special learning program coordinated by the AIM. Dr. Federico Macaranas from the institute discussed global value chains (GVCs) and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with special emphasis on gender issues, as well as best business practices, which provided insights for the participants on business from academic perspectives. It was followed by a workshop with AIM graduate students and a panel discussion attended by Pacita Juan, the chairperson of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network.
In the panel talk session organized on the second day, experienced business women representing the Asean region and Japan shared their wisdom and experiences, including challenges at the time of start-up and during growth stage and how they successfully conquered those challenges as women and as entrepreneurs.
The main program of the AJWELP was the business presentation event following the panel talk. In the event, emerging Asean business women who were selected by the government of each Asean member-state and relevant agencies presented on their businesses in front of established companies and successful women entrepreneurs who acted as supporting enterprises and mentors respectively. The companies and mentors were all volunteers who lent a helping hand to guide new entrepreneurs who were not only in the same industry but also in other or cross-sectional interfaces. Unlike other similar events, the AJWELP was not a competition to choose a winner. All participating entrepreneurs were given equal opportunities to meet with and find their own business supporters/mentors through the event.
The AJWELP successfully ended with a networking reception where the participants forged their linkages with supporting enterprises, mentors, academic partners and participating peers. In total, as many 45 linkages were created for 10 Asean women entrepreneurs.