The 10 finalists of the 4th ASEAN-Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Program (AJWELP) in a group photo with DARe’s CEO Javed Ahmad

ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) organised the 4th ASEAN-Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Program (AJWELP) recently, featuring business presentations from selected startups from ASEAN.

The event that was held at The Rizqun International Hotel saw ten finalists from the member states delivering their presentations on their business and challenges to supporting companies and senior entrepreneurs who were mentors.

In a statement from AJC, the governments of ASEAN and Japan are committed to promote the development of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the region, particularly startup women entrepreneurs to promote gender equality and women empowerment.

Image: Courtesy of DARe

The support programme aims to empower startup women entrepreneurs from ASEAN by linking them with companies, mentors and other AJWELP peers for their further business development.

In his opening speech at the event, DARe Chief Executive Officer Javed Ahmad said that the national MSME body was honoured to co-organise with AJC and host the programme in Brunei.

“Through this regional collaboration, DARe sees great opportunities for our MSMEs, in particular our aspiring women entrepreneurs, to advance their role in entrepreneurship and contribute to economic development in the region,” he said.

Member of Legislative Council and ASEAN Business Advisory Council Brunei YB Siti Rozaimeriyanty Dato Seri Laila J Hj Abd Rahman seen speaking at the 4th AJWELP. Image: Courtesy of DARe.

AJWELP, he added, forms part of the initiatives implemented by ACCMSME, an ASEAN body responsible for the development of MSMEs in the region, whose work is currently governed by the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-2025 (SAP SMED 2025), under Strategic Goal E which focuses on the “Promotion of women entrepreneurs through capacity building, market access, branding and packaging”.

“We greatly value platforms like AJWELP in providing the opportunity for ASEAN as well as Japan women entrepreneurs to expand collaboration through regional networks of women entrepreneurs and explore opportunities for potential business partnerships,” said the ceo.

On his part, Secretary-General of ASEAN-Japan Centre Masataka Fujita said that people face difficulties and challenges at an early stage of corporate growth.

Nor Syariena @ Nor Diyanah Abd Rahman delivering her presentation during the 4th AJWELP. Image: Courtesy of DARe.

“Despite the fact that startups are gaining momentum lately, they sometimes face significant barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential, which is why we are organising AJWELP,” he said, adding that AJWELP is part of our efforts to enhance people-to-people exchanges.

Moreover, AJC also arranged a customised two-day intensive and practical workshop conducted by the trainer of the World Startup Festival to fit the needs of the participating women entrepreneurs. 

The participants not only learned about entrepreneurship but also improved their presentation skills as the trainer individually consulted with the participants.

Participants of the 4th AJWELP. Image: Courtesy of DARe.

AJC believes that such linkages forged with and the support and mentorship will benefit women entrepreneurs further expand their business to become success stories and role models for other junior startups in the future.

The first AJWELP was organised in Manila, Philippines in 2016, followed by Jakarta, Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The result of the business presentation was announced at the Networking Reception on Wednesday by announcing supports offered by the supporting companies to the finalists.

There were 78 supports and linkages offered to the 10 finalists by 24 supporting companies.

In attendance at the event were Ambassador of Japan Eiji Yamamoto, Ambassador-Designate of Cambodia Hok Sophea, Ambassador of the Philippines Christopher B. Montero, Ambassador of Thailand Wanthanee Viputwongsakul in Brunei. – Analisa Amu



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