From Top Left, Mr Raja Singham, Council Member of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia, Founder & Managing Director of BAC Education Group (Malaysia), Hon. Ar. Siti Rozaimeriyanty DSLJ Hj Abd Rahman, Co-Chair of ASEAN-BAC Brunei, Oknha Kouch Pheng, President of Young Entrepreneurs Association Cambodia (YEAC), Ms. Eleanor Mak, President of Australia-ASEAN Business Council and Managing Director of Venturenauts (Australia), Dato’ Steve Cheah, Chairman of Global Entrepreneurs Network (Thailand), Ms. Merly Cruz, Executive Director of AMEN PMO and Go Negosyo Advisor for MSME Development (Philippines).

The ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) Conference was hosted by the Philippines Center for Entrepreneurship or Go Negosyo from 23 November to 25 November 2020 in conjunction with AMEN’s 15th anniversary.

AMEN is a legacy project of ASEAN-BAC Philippines, chaired by ASEAN-BAC Council Member Mr. Joey Concepcion. The project aims to develop and help scale up micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through a network of regional mentors.

Panel: Mentoring in the New Normal

Mr. Raja Singham, BAC Education Group Managing Director and ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member, participated in a panel discussing how MSMEs can be supported through training and mentoring, especially in the COVID-19 era.

Mr. Raja Singham noted that not only has the pandemic displaced many in the labour market, but it has also caused those who remain employed to make significant changes in the way they operate. For example, workers have had to figure out ways to work remotely, while business owners have had to digitalise their services in a very short period of time.

However, he said that there were indeed businesses in certain sectors, such as those in the e-commerce space or those with a pre-existing digital presence, who have benefited during this time. He added that there is room for even more businesses to benefit, such as through the adoption of new business models, through start-up or social entrepreneurship, or by getting new talent onboard.

For instance, the BAC Education Group has implemented two projects to help train entrepreneurs and develop the digital workforce in Malaysia. These sessions are delivered digitally and for free. Once people get going after these trainings, he said, then they can be connected with a mentor through the AMEN network.

From Top Left: Dr. Robert Yap, Chair of ABAC Singapore, Mr George Barcelon, President Emeritus of PCCI; Member of ABAC Philippines, Dr. Doan Duy Khuong, Chair of ABAC 2020 (Vietnam), U Moe Kyaw, Council Member of ABAC Myanmar, Prof. Annie Koh, Vice President, Business Development, Singapore Management University, Mr. Thanongsinh Kanlagna, Council Member of ABAC Laos, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, Chair of ABAC Malaysia, Capt. Raghu Raman, Founding CEO NATGRID, Ex-President Reliance Industries, Distinguished Fellow ORF & Author.

Roundtable: Big Brothers Helping Fellow Entrepreneurs

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid participated in a roundtable discussing ways larger industry players and veterans can support smaller businesses in the region — such as by inviting smaller players to participate in their value chain, by providing digital platforms that help small businesses reach their customers, or by mentoring them.
Tan Sri Munir also highlighted a chapter in the recently-inked Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement which focuses on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The chapter, he said, goes beyond what the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) can do as it represents a formalised, legal commitment by RCEP members in helping MSMEs go to market.


Nevertheless, Tan Sri Munir noted that there are advantages in being small. For instance, small businesses and nascent enterprises can be agile in responding to the new normal. They can be nimble in defining or redefining what they want to do, how they want to do it, and who they want to build their company with.
8th ASEAN-EU Business Summit 2020: Towards an Inclusive, Resilient and Stronger ASEAN held on 19 November 2020

The 8th ASEAN-EU Business Summit was held on 19 November 2020 under the theme ‘Towards an Inclusive, Resilient and Stronger ASEAN’. This year’s summit was delivered through a hybrid virtual and in-person model in line with social distancing measures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid spoke on the ‘Towards a Resilient and Sustainable Tomorrow: Understanding ASEAN’s Post-Pandemic Recovery and the Opportunities for European Businesses’ panel, where he suggested five areas for greater cooperation between ASEAN and the EU: (i) addressing the needs of those at the bottom of the pyramid, (ii) healthcare resources, (iii) preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, (iv)  scaling ASEAN supply chains, and (v) further development of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

From Top Left: ASEAN-EU Business Summit, H.E. Igor Driesmans, EU Ambassador to ASEAN From Middle Left: Stuart Tait, Group General Manager, Regional Head of Commercial Banking Asia-Pacific (HSBC), Kirk Mitchell, Vice President, APAC Corporate Development (HERE Technologies)
From Bottom Left: Donald Kanak, Chairman of EU-ABC, Tan Sri Dr. Munir, Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia

Tan Sri Munir then highlighted the ASEAN-BAC’s Pathway 225 package of recommendations for post-pandemic recovery in the region, and urged the EU and ASEAN work together in the area of green initiatives, such as through green bonds. He added that ASEAN must embrace the digital revolution, ensure quality development, and invest in its people in order to build a resilient future.

Finally, Tan Sri Munir stressed the need to ensure the sustainability of infrastructure projects, such as by leveraging the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

From Left: Dr Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of ABIS 2020 giving his opening speech, H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

The two-day conference provided a forum for ASEAN’s private sector stakeholders to address and discuss possible solutions to pressing issues concerning the region’s economic growth, investment attractiveness and market prospects.

The two-day conference provided a forum for ASEAN’s private sector stakeholders to address and discuss possible solutions to pressing issues concerning the region’s economic growth, investment attractiveness and market prospects.

Themed ‘Digital ASEAN: Sustainable and Inclusive’, this year’s ABIS focused on:

  • ASEAN’s economic outlook;
  • The future of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing in Asia;
  • Technology and the future of work in ASEAN; and
  • Resilient, sustainable and inclusive growth in ASEAN

ABIS 2020 Chairman Dr. Vu Tien Loc stated in his opening speech that the COVID-19 crisis presented an opportunity for the public and private sector to come together to not only tackle a common enemy, but also find ways to stimulate the region’s economic growth and strengthen its institutions.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, for his part, applauded the ASEAN-BAC, VCCI and other supporting organisations for bringing this year’s ABIS to fruition despite the many unprecedented challenges presented in 2020 — be it the many natural disasters disrupting ASEAN livelihoods or the impact the pandemic has had on the region’s businesses, especially MSMEs.

H.E. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Prime Minister of Malaysia

Speaking at the ABIS’ ‘Future of ESG’ panel, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that the country has and will continue to embed ESG throughout its governance framework as it sees many similarities between the principles of ESG, the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin also urged the region’s governments and businesses to adopt the principles laid out in the ASEAN Guidelines on Responsible Investment, as well as work together to overcome the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh presents a token of appreciation to Dr. Doan Duy Khuong, Chair of ABAC 2020, Dr Vu Tien Loc, Chairman of ABIS 2020 and Madam Nguyen Thi Nga, Chair of ABA 2020.

The prestigious ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) is an annual event hosted by the ASEAN-BAC to acknowledge and put a spotlight on businesses making waves in and beyond the region.

The awards, which was first established in 2007, honours ASEAN entrepreneurs for their efforts in innovating and ensuring inclusiveness across the many sectors in which they work. This year’s ABA also saw the creation of a special ‘Combating COVID-19’ award to recognize private sector contributions in combating the effects of the pandemic.

A total of eight Malaysian enterprises and entrepreneurs were honoured at the ABA 2020.

The 87th ASEAN-BAC Meeting was chaired by Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam

The 87th ASEAN-BAC meeting was held on 4 November 2020 via video conference, hosted by the ASEAN-BAC Secretariat in Jakarta. The meeting was chaired by Dr. Doan Duy Khuong of Vietnam and attended by 44 ASEAN-BAC council members and staffers.

The meeting encompassed discussions on the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) and ASEAN Business Awards (ABA) 2020, the Pathway 225 initiative, Digital Trade Connect (DTC) project, ASEAN Manufacturers Network (AMN) launch, AFFIRM Extranet Project, as well as other related matters.

Among those who presented updates were ASEAN-BAC Executive Director Mr. Gil Gonzales who shared the council’s many ongoing efforts in implementing the policy recommendations outlined in Pathway 225, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia council member Mr. Raja Singham who spoke on ASEAN-BAC legacy projects, as well as ASEAN-BAC Deputy Executive Director Ms. Jukhee Hong who presented updates on the AFFIRM project.