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Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. As we enter a new decade, entrepreneurship will become an essential building block for the region’s continued progress. The year 2020 is likely to be a game-changer for entrepreneurs in this area.
Last Dec. 7, I was honored to speak as a panelist at the inaugural Asia Pacific Initiative Forum (APIF), convened in Yokohama, Japan by its esteemed chairman Dr. Yoichi Funabashi.
I brought 10 fellow Filipino delegates, namely Justin Uy, Cecilio Pedro, Winston Uy, William Belo, Olivia Limpe-Aw, Myla Villanueva, Sherill Quintana, Emma Imperial, Aster Torres and Aeron Morado.
Tan Sri Munir Majid, chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council in Malaysia, and I serve as advisors to the forum where we also discussed ASEAN efforts on putting up an operative ecosystem for entrepreneurs and businesses across the region.
Gathering more than a hundred business leaders, diplomats, and other delegates from more than a dozen countries in the Asia-Pacific, APIF presented opportunities for growth and economic collaboration. former US president Barack Obama; Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman of Chareon Pokphand Group; Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan; Tadashi Maeda, Governor of Japan Bank for International Cooperation; William Tanuwijaya, co-founder and CEO of Tokopedia; and Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, were among the 40 speakers.
In my last presentation with President Duterte on what our country should focus on — agriculture, tourism, and digitalization, I was pleased as Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the longest-serving Japan chief Cabinet secretary ever, in his speech, emphasized that these three reforms are the key factors which helped the rebound of the Japanese economy. Japan has long been focusing on these areas, which we, at the office of the presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo, share with the esteemed Cabinet secretary. This strongly reconfirmed my belief that these areas are where our country should focus as this is the way forward. In my panel, I shared the initiatives that we’ve been leading the past 14 years to accelerate the growth of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines.
Agriculture in the Philippines, where bulk of microentrepreneurs are situated, is often deemed as the most challenging sector and it is something that Japan was able to address. Modernizing or enhancing the technical skills of our farmers will be key to ensuring they are not left behind as we advance into the growth ladder.
Likewise, tourism in Japan has been a key driver of growth in the country. By passing growth-enabling measures such as tourist visa relaxation, Japan was able to encourage more tourists in the country. Their annual tourist arrival tripled from eight million to more than 35 million when the measure was implemented. Tourist visits are expected to hit an all-time high of 40 million by next year as Japan is hosting the Olympics 2020.
I spoke on the second day of the APIF, in a panel titled, “Creating an Entrepreneurial System.” I had with me as my co-panelist the YCAB Foundation founder and CEO Veronica Colondam, who has championed social entrepreneurship, especially among the underprivileged youth in Indonesia, since 1999. Go Negosyo itself is comprised of young movers and innovators, and we believe in the vast potential of the youth to promote growth. Their energy, creativity, and adaptability can be channeled to affect real and positive change.
I also emphasized during my plenary talk the importance of equipping MSMEs with tools they can use so they can scale up their businesses. These tools include digital platforms such as what Go Negosyo, through our still growing Angat Lahat sa Digital Alliance, has been advocating.
Last Tuesday, I joined the 12th MSMED Council Meeting together with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, director Jerry Clavesillas, Go Negosyo senior adviser Josephine Romero, and representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Science and Technology, TESDA, Department of Interior and Local Government, among others. There, we presented and discussed public and private efforts for MSME development especially the strengthened partnership between Go Negosyo and the Department of Trade and Industry where we envision to accelerate programs that will continuously help MSMEs in 2020. Some ASEAN countries have already used and adopted this model in the development of their own MSMEs.