Capacity Building in Southeast Asia: Challenges and Solutions for MSMEs in a Post-Covid World

Phebe M. Ferrer, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; Justin Kwan, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada


Community, Education, and Democracy


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating economic impact for Southeast Asian economies. Among the most affected are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are the foundation of many Southeast Asian economies, and a crucial source of economic opportunity for the region’s populace. To ensure a sustainable recovery, it is vital that post-pandemic recovery efforts incorporate an inclusive and gender-based lens, which considers distinct and gendered experiences in entrepreneurship in the design of recovery policies and programs. The authors ask: How can Southeast Asian economies operationalize an inclusive and gender-based lens in their national recovery efforts, that works toward sustainable economic inclusion of women and youth, among other groups? The authors explore the usage of this lens using reflections from the implementation of the APEC-Canada Growing Business Partnership. The Partnership is a joint development initiative of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, designed to build the capacity of MSMEs in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. The authors argue that the Partnership can provide an effective example of a project-based inclusive and gender-based lens, which has contributed to successful capacity building efforts. The authors focus on the Partnership’s project design, which prioritized pre-programming research, consultation, and gender-based analysis, and targeted initiatives such as the project’s mentorship program for women entrepreneurs. Adopting lessons learned from APEC’s overarching frameworks, the authors will demonstrate that effective capacity building efforts stem from an intrinsic inclusive and gender-based analytical lens, and sustained collaboration with local partners.

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CCSEAS Conference 2021 |