Australia has been most helpful to our country’s social development for quite some time now. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics as of June 2016, there are 246,400 Filipino residents in Australia. As the third largest diplomatic mission in the Philippines, its support has been evident in programs by agencies such as the Australia-Asean Council or AAC.
The AAC aims to bring together the citizens of Australia and Asean, “through stronger business, education, science, arts and cultural links.” In fact, according to the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), a specific AAC objective concerns promoting “cooperation between individuals and institutions in Australia and in the countries of Southeast Asia to enhance learning, teaching and research in areas of mutual interest.”
Development, invited me to be part of an AAC project on the use of information communication technology (ICT) in Asean small and medium enterprises, I was thrilled. I belong to a family of entrepreneurs in heritage conservation, and was excited to learn more about how ICT has become a major driver of development in regional economies.
The project that I am involved in is dubbed “Asean Academic Partnerships for Small Business and ICT Knowledge Transfer.” It was initiated by a team of academicians from Victoria University in Melbourne. Professors Stephen Burgess, Raphael Paguio and Carmine Sellito brought together colleagues from Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines for an intensive week-long workshop in Melbourne in March this year.
As a former entrepreneur, I was delighted to share experiences with business owners from Victoria, who were invited to speak at the workshop. Enterprises dealing in a wide range of services from accommodations, heritage destinations, food delivery, tour services & OTA in hospitality; to logistics in engineering, medical care, and digital marketing; to an online print production house, were represented by pioneering individuals who shared their challenges, their aspirations, as well as how ICT has become integral to their internal and external operations.
A month later, on April 20, Professors Noor Fadhiha Mokhtar and Kalsitinoor Set prepared a one-day workshop at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, in their campus near the sea. Since a goal of the project is to foster more research in the use of ICTs by SMEs, the audience consisted mostly of academicians. Guest speakers included the CEO ofPingAchorage Travel and Tours and the founder of Nysakapas, a traditional cloth manufacturer.
On May 26, I went to Mahidol University International College-Bangok. Professors Chanchai Phonthanukitithaworn and Yingyot Chiaravutthi did an amazing job in organizing their counterpart workshop, which went by the theme “It’s time to Catch A Digital Tool 2Go!” Notable ICT industry experts such as Korlarp Suwacharangkul, Strategy & New Services manager of LINE Corporation, and Bounthay Khammanyvong, country manager of Honestbee in Thailand, were impressive resource speakers. They discussed the applications developed to bridge online and offline worlds in an increasingly time-impoverished Bangkok society.
On June 23, it will be DLSU’s turn to hold a counterpart workshop. We look forward to hearing from various local players who actively use ICT in their operations. Rosario Juan of neighborhood café Commune Ph in Poblacion, Makati will talk about how she used social media to increase awareness and commitment to her various advocacies, while Claudia Ayaquil of Fuse Lending, Inc. will discuss how their start-up gives credit to SMEs. We are also expecting an official of the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED) and our very own students to give their insights on the topic.
Paz Esperanza Tesoro-Poblador is a faculty member of the Marketing and Advertising Management Department of De La Salle University’s Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. She has a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management, and is currently taking her Doctor of Business Administration course. Her fields of interest are sustainable development, poverty alleviation, culture and heritage, entrepreneurship and digital marketing. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty and its administrators.
PAZ ESPERANZA TESORO-POBLADOR