Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo emphasized the crucial role played by small businesses in the growth of the economy in Southeast Asia during 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Leaders' Summit in Manila on Monday (13/11).
"When we talk about Asean economic integration, it is part of our duty to bring micro, small and medium enterprises into this integration," Jokowi said, as quoted in a statement released by the Presidential Office Press Bureau.
The regional bloc is set to connect multinational companies with MSMEs through the Asean Mentors for Entrepreneurship Network (AMEN), which was launched by the Asean Business Advisory Council (ABAC) on Sunday.
According to Asean Secretariat data, MSMEs account for more than 88 percent of the total number of business establishments in the region.
Jokowi added that Asean must also expand its focus on empowering women in MSMEs, and he shared Indonesia's experience in developing inclusive businesses by connecting big companies with MSMEs across different sectors.
"Indonesia has a task force responsible for synergizing the interests of government, businesses and low-income citizens on inclusive financing," he said.
The president also expressed hope that Asean will be able to formulate an alternative financing mechanism for MSMEs in the region.
The Asean Economic Community was launched in 2015 to further economic integration with the ultimate goal of a creating a single market and production base.