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Oct 17, 2020 / 01:42

Startups in ASEAN help promote inclusive and sustainable development: UNDP

Young entrepreneurs will play a key role in the post Covid-19 socio-economic recovery journey, even accelerating it in the Southeast Asian region, stated a senior UNDP official.

The Southeast Asian region has one of the highest young startup rates across the globe, and 40% of these startups are creating jobs, according to Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam.

 UNDP Resident Representative in Vietnam. Caitlin Wiesen. 

In countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) generate over 70% of the jobs in the private sector, stated Mrs. Wiesen at the ASEAN Startup Forum 2020 organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council on October 16.

This is particular important as Asia is home to more than 60% of the world’s youth or about 700 million young people. It is estimated that they account for half of the jobless people in the region, said Mrs. Wiesen.

“It is the young business owner, investor and worker who are often the more socially and environmentally conscious and want to pursue more sustainable ways of producing and consuming that is better for people and the planet,” stated. Mrs. Wiesen.

According to Mrs. Wiesen, they are the ones who have better access to data and information about the markets, in terms of good and bad practices on corporate governance, human rights, climate change and new technology. 

 Overview of the forum. 

Therefore, investing in them and helping to carry them through this period of crisis is an investment in the next generation of investors and job creators, and the future of doing business in the region, stressed Mrs. Wiesen.

Additionally, as the ASEAN countries prepare for the transition to Industry 4.0 and the next development stage, transparency and digital transformation are critical aspects to ensure good governance, a  fair business environment and firm competitiveness.

In the context of Covid-19, the impetus for digital transformation has taken center stage, Mrs. Wiesen said, adding online services and digital transformation can ensure smooth and quality service delivery amid restrictive measures on social distancing.

The ASEAN Summit that was recently organized in Hanoi was also the first annual ASEAN Summit held virtually throughout 53 years of its history, she noted.

Given the high rates of startups in the ASEAN region, and their drive for innovation and enterprise, there is little doubt that these young entrepreneurs will play a key role in the Covid-19 socio-economic recovery journey, even accelerating it in this region, stated Mrs. Wiesen.

“By supporting them in ensuring business integrity and driving sustainable business, we will contribute not only to rebuilding our economies, but also to achieving a societal culture that puts a premium on caring and protecting a more sustainable future for all,” she concluded.

 UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward.

Sharing Mrs. Wiesen’s view on the huge potential of ASEAN startups, especially those in Vietnam, UK Ambassador to Vietnam Gareth Ward said current Vietnamese startups are still facing legal barrier in forms of cumbersome administrative procedures and sub-licenses.

Mr. Ward suggested that policy makers should adopt a more open mindset in addressing startups' concerns while speeding up the decision-making process for those related to startups activities.

The ambassador referred to the UK’s experience as saying the strong development of the business community is thanks to a favorable legal environment.

Moreover, Mr. Ward expected Vietnamese startups to continue applying technologies to raise productivity and eventually their competitiveness.

Country Manager for Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (Swiss EP) Hub Langstaff said the startup community in Vietnam is in need of venture capital.

Mr. Lang Staff said the Swiss EP is committed to cooperating with partners in Vietnam for better nurturing startups, in turn forming a platform for them to develop.