Go Negosyo’s mentorship program to be implemented ASEAN-wide

The mentorship program of Go Negosyo will be implemented ASEAN-wide starting this month following a grant from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, who initiated the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurship Network (AMEN), announced the second phase of the program following the $333,943 grant from JAIF last March.

The first phase of the AMEN Project was in March 2019 and was completed in December that same year. It received a $347,396 grant from the JAIF, and had an initial pool of 48 mentors from countries where the program was piloted, namely Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The first phase used a 10-module mentorship program that was vetted in both the public and private sectors of all 10 ASEAN member-countries, including the 127 selected mentees from the same pilot-countries.

Concepcion is the proponent of AMEN, a legacy project of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (BAC)–Philippines, of which he is the chairman. “We are grateful to the JAIF for making this possible,” he said. “With AMEN moving to its second phase, our small entrepreneurs can scale up to the regional level, and we increase and expand our network of mentors. It is a great leap forward for the mentorship advocacy started by Go Negosyo,” he said.

“What this means is that Filipino MSMEs can learn from other small entrepreneurs and mentors across the region, and vice-versa. Mentors can also exchange knowledge and learn from each other on a regional scope,” he said.

The second phase will employ an improved ten-module mentorship program which will be translated to the languages of the ASEAN member-countries. There will also be a bigger pool of mentors from the entire ASEAN region, and will have mentoring exercises for both mentors and mentees from all 10 ASEAN member-countries. Likewise, the second phase of the project aims to forge public-private partnerships dedicated to continually developing and mobilizing mentors dedicated to enabling ASEAN’s MSE to succeed and grow.

Launched in 2017 and supported by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, which runs the Go Negosyo advocacy, AMEN aims to institute a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) system that will help micro- and small enterprises (MSEs) access money, markets and mentorship which can help them scale up their operations and improve their profitability and sustainability.

“The project will bring timely capacity-building to micro- and small enterprises across the ASEAN,” said Engr. Merly Cruz, Senior Adviser MSME Development at Go Negosyo.

The implementation of an ASEAN-wide mentorship program will also become an opportunity for the region to standardize knowledge. This cooperation becomes more crucial as the region continues its economic integration into a single market and production base.

MSMEs are the backbone of the ASEAN economy, accounting for 95 to 99 percent of all business establishments. They also generate more than half of the total jobs in the region. In general, it is the region’s MSEs that need capacity building, support and access to money, markets and mentorship. This need has been exacerbated by rising inflation and the economic recession that followed the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With effective mentoring, MSEs will be guided and directed towards solutions that will cut losses for them and, more importantly, allow their businesses to stay relevant and profitable in the face of these challenges,” said Cruz.

“Most MSEs are content as long as they keep earning,” said Cruz. This attitude, she observed, lowers the probability that small entrepreneurs will scale up their operations. Mentoring bridges this gap, as has been the experience in the Philippines where formal mentoring from organizations like PCE helped thousands of small entrepreneurs learn business basics and eventually grow their enterprises.

Consistent with the management arrangements set up for the first phase of the project, the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) will provide oversight for the project.