• November 27, 2017

Growing numbers of facilitators throughout ASEAN are making access to business skills and information even easier for the region’s small and medium enterprises.

These facilitators have the enthusiasm, knowledge, and leadership skills to guide entrepreneurs through the ASEAN SME Academy, an online resource launched in 2016 as a collaboration between ASEAN and the US-ASEAN Business Council, with support from USAID ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment (US-ACTI).

SME facilitators at a training session on the ASEAN SME Academy. Photo: USAID Indonesia

The Academy offers a range of materials, mostly developed by leading US companies and law firms doing business in the region, that are designed to help business operators hone their skills, build their networks, and scope out opportunities. Offerings include startup fundamentals like setting prices, selling online, and calculating profit and loss, and more advanced material to help entrepreneurs who seek to enlarge their businesses or start exporting—they can learn, for example, “incoterms,” the terminology of international trade.

With so much information available on so many levels of need and complexity, it was important to help guide new users in accessing the Academy. So, US-ACTI, implemented by Nathan Associates, began identifying and training facilitators in each member state. These business enablers, who conduct their own training at sites throughout the region, come from associations, educational institutions, government agencies, and other groups supporting SME development as critical to inclusive economic growth in Southeast Asia.

Through October, 190 facilitators have been trained in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Training is planned for Burma facilitators in 2018.

Contact: Tim Buehrer

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