Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) account for over 95% of all business in ASEAN and over 50% of employment in the region.  Their contribution to GDP is generally significant, about 30-53 percent.   Moreover, they are a key entry point into the formal economy for women and youth.  ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment Project is committed to supporting SMEs development particularly in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.  

Two experts from the ASEAN Connectivity through Trade and Investment program met with over 50 representatives of SMEs, industry associations, and some government representatives in Viet Nam and Cambodia to identify training opportunities that will encourage SME growth in under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).  Issues such as human resource and ICT training, as well as access to information were cited as critical needs for businesses to remain competitive and even to flourish once trade barriers across the 10 ASEAN economies are lowered or removed.

The assessment also prioritized women and youth entrepreneurs as possible beneficiaries considering their heavy presence in SME ownership in the two countries.  The assessment will now be utilized by the project and the ASEAN Secretariat to target support under the ASEAN Strategic Plan for SME Development.

Source: General Development Office-USAID/RDMA Monthly Highlights