ASEAN-Japan programme empowers women entrepreneurs

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC) organised the 3rd ASEAN-Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Programme (AJWELP) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from January 27-30.

The programme, which aimed to empower startup women entrepreneurs, was co-hosted by Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Corporation Malaysia.

A press release from the AJC states that the governments of the ASEAN member states and Japan are committed to promote development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enhance more gender-equal societies.

To boost this effort, AJC launched the AJWELP, which is a support programme for start-up women entrepreneurs in the ASEAN member states, to forge linkages among start-ups, companies and mentors.

It was first organised in Manila, the Philippines in 2016, followed by Jakarta, Indonesia in 2017.

Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in a group photo with 3rd AJWELP participants. – AJC

One of the highlights of the 3rd AJWELP was a business presentation on January 29 where start-ups from the 10 ASEAN member states delivered presentations on their businesses and challenges, before representatives from companies and mentors who are senior entrepreneurs.

After the business presenta-tion, company representatives decided which start-ups they would support, in line with companies’ businesses, with support offered to the 10 finalists by 27 supporting companies.

Another significant moment was a networking reception in the evening held after the business presentation, which saw the attendance of Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and other dignitary government officials.

The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister delivered a keynote address, sharing facts of women-owned SMEs in Malaysia and how the Malaysian government supports them. The deputy prime minister also commented on AJWELP, saying that the programme would have greater success in empowering women within the ASEAN region as it is already in its third consecutive year of implementation.

“AJC believes that support and mentorship provided by companies and mentors will be encouraging and useful for startups to further expand their businesses. It is expected that participating startups will eventually become successful entrepreneurs and be role models for junior fellow start-ups in the future,” the press release added.