A MENTORSHIP program for small businesses organized by Go Negosyo will be expanded across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. A. Concepcion III said.

Mr. Concepcion said in a statement Tuesday that the program, ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurship Network (AMEN), will be implemented across ASEAN after obtaining a $333,943 grant from the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) in March. Go Negosyo has yet to announce the specific date of the program’s start.

“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,” Mr. Concepcion said.

“What this means is that micro, small, and medium enterprises (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 scale,” he added.

Go Negosyo said the second phase will involve a 10-module mentorship program that will be translated to the languages of ASEAN member countries. It aims to forge public-private partnerships to develop and mobilize mentors dedicated to help the growth of ASEAN small businesses.

It added that the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSMEs will provide oversight for the project.

“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,” Go Negosyo said.

“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,” it added.

Launched in 2017, the AMEN project seeks 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 is supported by the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship.

The first phase of the AMEN project began in March 2019 and concluded in Dec. 2019. It utilized a grant worth $347,396 from the JAIF and had an initial pool of 48 mentors from 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,” Go Negosyo said.

According to Go Negosyo Senior Adviser for MSME Development Merly M. Cruz, the project will build capacity among MSEs across the ASEAN region.

“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,” Ms. Cruz said.

“Most MSEs are content as long as they keep earning. This attitude lowers the probability that small entrepreneurs will scale up their operations. Mentoring bridges this gap,” she added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave