MANILA -- Startup and expanding micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are expected to get a boost from new mentorship program of the Philippines and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meant to help ensure their businesses become successful.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in his role as chair of ASEAN50, led Sunday the ceremonial launch of the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN) as he formally opened the three-day ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 (ABIS) 2017 at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Paranaque City.

ABAC adviser Josephine Romero said the ASEAN mentors module involves developing a project idea to the creation of a business to actual registration of business.

“As they go through the module, by the end of it, they should have a business case that is eligible for somebody to look at like banks, MFI (microfinance institution) or co-investor. They are already business ready. They are taught to do that from an idea to an actual business case,” she said in an interview with the Philippines News Agency.

Romero said AMEN is a program that has leveled up the individual country programs of mentorship where sharing of knowledge and mentors themselves will “be done in a more systematic way.”

A flagship program of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) under the Philippine chairmanship, AMEN is a private-public partnership platform where mentors and world-class teaching modules for MSME empowerment can be developed and actively shared among ASEAN member states.

It shall be the ASEAN’s first pool of mentors comprising of entrepreneurs, business practitioners, and academicians.

Romero expects the number of Filipino entrepreneurs mentored to double to about 3,400 next year following the launch of the ASEAN mentorship program.

“That (number) should be conservative as you know there are more farmers who are entrepreneurs,” she said.

As of September 2017, 1,700 Filipino entrepreneurs were already mentored through the Kapatid Mentor Me Program, a joint program of Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship-Go Negosyo.

The program, which led to the creation of AMEN, aims to assist MSMEs scale up and sustain their businesses through weekly coaching and mentoring of business owners and practitioners in different functional areas of entrepreneurship.

For his part, ABAC Chair and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion said many of AMEN mentors from the different countries will be coming to the Philippines to strengthen its own mentors.

“More than 500 mentors and growing are already engaged in the Philippines so we envisioned this to be at least a thousand mentors. Eventually, the mentorship can be developed into an academy in a digital platform,” Concepcion said in a press briefing. (PNA)