BANGKOK – More than 40 women entrepreneurs from an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Bangkok yesterday announced a regional product brand and marketing platform called the GREAT Women (Gender Responsive Economic Actions for the Transformation of Women) – ASEAN Collection.
From its base in the Philippines, this innovative approach and brand is being scaled up to a regional level to enable women entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia to work collectively to foster fair-employment and fair-trade conditions, market their products beyond their own countries’ borders and protect their product designs from being illegally copied and sold.
“The GREAT Women–ASEAN Collection is an expression of ASEAN women entrepreneurs’ desire to promote globally the region’s vast cultural heritage, diversity and natural resources, especially with the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community this year,” said Acting Director-General of OSMEP, Thailand, Dr. Wimonkan Kosumas.
While the rapid development and expansion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Southeast Asian region have empowered more women to own businesses and increased the number of women employees substantially in the creative and artisan industries, many SMEs continue to face challenges of marketing products internationally or are unable to protect their products as geographical indications, designs, trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights.
“By marketing products under a regional brand, women-led enterprises, especially small and micro enterprises, not only overcome the challenges in marketing products and protecting their brand, they will also contribute to the region’s further economic integration in their own way by expressing their creativity and telling their own stories,” noted Madame Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, chairperson of Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC) and chairperson of the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN).
This week’s event is supported by ASEAN and the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs (Business Alliance) – a partnership of the US-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) – in collaboration with the Office of SME Promotion among many other local and regional partners. Baker & McKenzie, Procter & Gamble and other businesses and entrepreneurs are also taking part and providing advice alongside the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs Network (AWEN) and the Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Associations of Thailand.
The three-day meeting on the GREAT Women-ASEAN Collection will help participants plan, consult and brainstorm the development of GREAT Women—ASEAN Collection as an ASEAN regional marketing initiative and brand in support of gender economic mainstreaming. It will focus on three key issues: product group development, product business development and participation in product showcases and exhibitions. The outcomes of this meeting will become part of a plan of action for the implementation of the GREAT Women—ASEAN Collection over the next three years.
For more information about the U.S.-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, contact Ms. Penchan Manawanitkul at the ASEAN Secretariat (firstname.lastname@example.org)or Mr. Chanyut Nitikitpaiboon (email@example.com) at USAID.