With the aim to build network among the ASEAN women entrepreneurs with established companies, mentors and other women entrepreneurs, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in collaboration with ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC), hosted the first ASEAN-Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Program (AJWELP) in the Philippines.

Attended by over 70 participants from Japan and ASEAN member countries, the AJWELP served as a platform to connect new and existing enterprises that will help and support each other through their knowledge and resources.

“In response to the action program of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2025 (ASEAN SAP SMED 2025) which highlights the promotion of women entrepreneurs, the AJC, with the help of DTI, introduced the AJWELP that forges the linkage between ASEAN women entrepreneurs and already established companies,” AJC Secretary General Masataka Fujita said.

Women entrepreneurs from 10 member countries of ASEAN region presented their business stories and were able to get valuable learnings and advise from women mentors.

Mentors include Rose Gold Mountain Trading Co., Ltd. Founder and CEO Ms. Mo Hom from Myanmar, kay me Inc. Founder and Lead Designer Ms. Junko Kemi from Japan, ATC Co. Ltd. Founder and Lead Designer Dr. Ngo Kieu Oanh from Vietnam, Spice Worx Consultancy Inc. President Ms. Tae Abe-Abion from Japan, and representatives from the Philippines – Villa Margarita Corporation VP and General Manager Ms. Mary Ann Montemayor and, Community Health Education Emergency Rescue Service (CHEERS) Founder Ms. Sandy Montano.

Of 42 countries surveyed in 2006-2007 by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Survey, the Philippines had the second highest percentage of entrepreneurially active females, next to Peru. With this strong number, DTI recognized that the country has a nation of entrepreneurs where women-run businesses play a great role in the business sector in achieving more inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

“With gender as a thematic area in the MSME Development Plan, DTI will continue to promote gender equality on our existing and future MSME development programs for small businesses. We will implement programs and projects that will better equip and capacitate our MSMEs to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as we enter an increasingly globalized economy.” DTI-Regional Operations Group (ROG) Assistant Secretary Ameenah Fajardo said.

In the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), Japanese companies and investors are increasingly allocating more capital to Southeast Asia. Data from the ASEAN Secretariat showed that in the last three years, Japan is the second biggest foreign investor in the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), just after the European Union.

In the first 11 months of 2016, Japan was the third biggest foreign investor in the Philippines with investments worth P6.833 Billion, next to Netherlands (P10.778 Billion) and Singapore (P13.261 Billion).