MSMEs Take Center Stage in APEC Agenda

01.a_ABAC Members

Manila, 17 November 2015 – The APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) underscored the critical role of innovation in enabling micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to rethink the way they do businesses and become creators of ideas and solutions. Enterprises are considered the backbone of economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

ABAC, in partnership with Asia Society Philippines and the Philippine Center for the Entrepreneurship, presented the APEC SME Summit 2015, which is anchored on the theme of “Innovation and Big Ideas: Pushing Boundaries.” The event was held on 17 November 2015 at the Green Sun in Makati City as part of the week-long APEC events.

“Entrepreneurs have become the dynamic drivers of innovation and job creation. With MSMEs accounting for 97% of enterprises and up to 90% of employment in APEC economies, ABAC urges Asia-Pacific economic leaders to address barriers inhibiting the participation of MSMEs in cross-border trade,” said Doris Ho, ABAC 2015 Chair.

Ho added that Asia-Pacific economies must promote inclusive business models to enable more MSMEs enter into long-term, value-driven partnerships in global value chains.

President Benigno Aquino III delivered the Keynote Address to discuss the inextricable link between innovation and inclusive economies. “Unlocking the remarkable potential of entrepreneurs needs robust innovation ecosystems. SMEs are oftentimes better poised to understand new customer expectations and create transformational business models through innovation,” said Ho.

The Summit’s Conference featured speakers whose big ideas and innovative solutions have inspired positive changes in their industries and in communities. These included Asia Society President Josette Sheeran; UBER Technologies, Inc. Senior Advisor David Plouffe; Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes; Founder and CEO Sheila Marcelo; Tallwood Venture Capital Managing Director Diosdado Banatao; Barefoot College Founder Bunker Roy, and Thumbtack Co-founder and President Jonathan Swanson.

Discussing innovation insights and experiences were Rappler CEO and Executive Editor Maria Ressa, Xurpas, Inc. President and CEO Nix Nolledo, Kalibrr, Inc. Co-founder and COO Dexter Ligot-Gordon; and Simple Wearables Co-founder and COO Angelo Umali.

The Conference’s afternoon session talked about innovation and the future. Speakers included Innosight Managing Partner Scott Anthony; Google Director of Operations and Strategy Barbara Navarro; Bhumiputra Architecture Principal Alok Shetty; ABRA Founder and CEO Bill Barhydt; Teach for All Co-founder and CEO Wendy Kopp; and FedEx Asia Pacific President and CEO Karen Reddington.

Happening alongside the APEC SME Summit was a trade exhibit of innovative and game-changing products and services. Around 30 world-class, cutting-edge business solutions and other groundbreaking technological advances from across the APEC region were showcased. This covered all fields and sectors from agriculture, creatives, manufacturing, services, finance, science & technology, gaming, and others. One such exhibitor was The Harish and Johnsen Group, the business solutions specialist firm run by two women under the age of 40 offering a creative, multiplatform approach tailor-made for each client’s needs. The Harish and Johnsen Group, in fact, created the event app that will debut during the Summit, enabling users to enjoy a more interactive experience.

Ho also highlighted ABAC’s commitment to create an environment for MSMEs to internationalize through e-commerce. A joint study by ABAC and the USC Marshall School of Business found that MSMEs face complex customs requirements, high compliance costs, high logistics costs, lack of e-commerce infrastructure and e-payment facilities.

“We need APEC-wide e-Commerce policy frameworks and e-Commerce trade facilitation provisions in Regional Trade Agreements, as well as the APEC-wide promotion of the Cross Border E-Commerce Training Program for

MSMEs,” said Ho.


ABAC was created by APEC Leaders in 1995 to be the primary voice of business in APEC. Each economy has three members who are appointed by their respective Leaders. They meet four times a year in preparation for the presentation of their recommendationsto the Leaders in a dialogue that is a key event in the annual Leaders Meeting.

ABAC is comprised of the Asia-Pacific region’s top business leaders tasked to provide inputs to APEC. It serves as the official business sector voice in APEC by presenting recommendations that promote the advancement of inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region, and ensure greater prosperity and a better quality of life.

This 2015, ABAC focused on four key priorities: Advancing the regional integration and services agenda; strengthening and facilitating micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises’ (MSME) entry into global markets; maximizing innovation and human capital potential; and promoting livable, sustainable cities and resilient communities.


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