US-ASEAN Business Council and PTTC renew MOU on SME Academy

The US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) and the Philippine Trade Training Center for ASEAN SME Academy renewed their cooperation to further promote and develop micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through various training and various courses offered online.

Academy.jpg **MOU SIGNING -- US- ABC Chief Operating Officer Margaret Hanson- Muse signed the MOU with Dir. Emma Asusano for the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED), and ED Nelly Dillera for Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).**

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the ASEAN SME Academy was signed during the 15th Meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) happening in Bangkok, Thailand on May 22 - 26, 2023.

US- ABC Chief Operating Officer Margaret Hanson- Muse signed the MOU with Dir. Emma Asusano for the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED), and ED Nelly Dillera for Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC).  Witnessing the signing ceremony are DTI Undersecretary and ACCSME Chair Blesila Lantayona and Mr. Amri Bakhtiar of the ACCMSME Secretariat. The PTTC, an agency under the DTI, is directly handling the SME Academy.

The MoU formalizes the renewal of the commitment of the US-ABC and ACCMSME to support the ASEAN MSMEs through the ASEAN MSME Academy.

“We believe that with the amended MoU, the ASEAN SME Academy platform could expedite the digital transformation of the MSMEs in the region,” said Hanson-Muse, Chief Operations Officer of the Council. “Moving forward, the US-ASEAN Business Council will continue its effort to empower ASEAN SMEs through the ASEAN SME Academy and our SME Program. It is our aspiration to give necessary support and assistance to the ASEAN SMEs to better navigate their business in the digital economy along with our members,” she added.

“This renewal of commitment to implement the ASEAN SME Academy is very timely especially after what we have gone through at the height of the pandemic,” said Lantayona.

Lantayona noted that “During the lockdown, online learning platforms such as the ASEAN SME Academy were massively employed and it is expected to remain so, post pandemic. With this new MOU, we expect to see the ASEAN SME Academy to become even better.”

The ASEAN SME Academy was first publicly launched in 2016 as an online learning platform for the ASEAN MSMEs as part of a collaborative initiative between the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs and ACCMSME for the implementation of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016 – 2025. The Academy is an official ASEAN platform, co-managed by the US- ABC, DTI’s BSMED and the PTTC. The Academy platform is a public and private sector partnership that aims to further empower ASEAN SMEs, especially in digital transformation.

The pandemic and the acceleration of the digital economy have particularly encouraged the Academy to better position itself in supporting ASEAN SMEs. Given this, the Academy underwent a revamping project in 2021, which was launched on April 8, 2022, as the ASEAN SME Academy 2.0—an upgraded version of the Academy. This relaunching of the Academy introduced a fresh new website, self-certification feature, availability in ASEAN local languages, US-ASEAN SME Community feature, and the upcoming Business Continuity and Resilience (BCR) tab provided by the USAID under IGNITE project.

The MoU amendment was initiated to reflect the new roles of the Council, DTI-BSMED, and the PTTC following changes made from the revamping process of the Academy’s website. This MoU also acts as a milestone of renewed support and partnership from the U.S. private sector to support SMEs across the region, while continuing ASEAN ownership of the Academy.

As of April 2023, there are over 13,000 active visitors and 3,400 users accessing the Academy daily. There were 110 courses offered by 21 public and private institutions for the Academy. The contributors include Adobe, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Baker McKenzie, International Labour Organization (ILO), Cisco, Dell, FedEx, Google, Corteva, Hawlett Packard, Inclusive Business Action Network (iBAN), Mastercard, Meta, Microsoft, OpenSAP, PayPal, Salesforce, UL, Visa, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI).