In a bid to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and foster economic growth, the US-Asean Business Council has forged an agreement with the Philippines, establishing an online academy aimed at assisting these businesses in expanding their operations. The initiative, known as the ASEAN SME Online Academy, was launched through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the US-Asean Business Council, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), and other key stakeholders.
Margaret Hanson-Muse, Chief Operations Officer of the US-Asean Business Council, expressed her enthusiasm for the agreement, emphasizing that the platform would accelerate digital transformation in Southeast Asia, particularly among SMEs across various industries. Recognizing the vital role played by SMEs in the region’s economic growth, Hanson-Muse stated, “This partnership will act as a catalyst for SMEs, enabling them to navigate and thrive in today’s digital economy.”
The ASEAN SME Online Academy is an extension of the existing ASEAN SME Academy, an online learning platform launched in 2016 as a collaborative effort between the US-Asean Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs and ACCMSME. The council, in conjunction with the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development under the DTI, and the Philippine Trade and Training Center-Global MSME Academy, will oversee and manage the academy’s operations.
The academy, which represents a collaboration between public and private sectors, has witnessed significant growth since its inception. As of last month, April, the platform recorded over 13,000 active visitors and 3,400 daily users. It offers a comprehensive range of 110 courses sourced from 21 esteemed private and public institutions, ensuring SMEs gain access to cutting-edge knowledge and expertise.
Notably, the ASEAN SME Online Academy has partnered with renowned organizations such as Adobe, Amazon Web Services, Baker McKenzie, Cisco, Dell, FedEx, Google, and Microsoft, among others. Other prominent contributors include Corteva, Hawlett Packard, Mastercard, PayPal, Salesforce, and Visa. International bodies like the International Labor Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, and the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative are also part of this collaborative effort.
Through this new partnership, SMEs in the Philippines and the wider Southeast Asian region will receive targeted support and guidance to navigate the digital landscape and adapt to evolving market trends. The initiative aligns with the US-Asean Business Council’s ongoing commitment to empowering SMEs in their growth and resilience within the digital economy.
As the ASEAN SME Online Academy paves the way for greater access to valuable resources, SMEs can leverage these opportunities to expand their businesses, enhance productivity, and contribute to the economic prosperity of the region. With strategic plans in place until 2025, the academy will continue to evolve and play a pivotal role in driving sustainable growth and innovation among SMEs across Southeast Asia.