Written by Mekong Institute

The Mekong Institute (MI) was commissioned by Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) to conduct a four-week annual international training course on Enhancing Entrepreneurship in SME Development and Export Consortia from 20 July to 14 August 2009 for twenty-six government officials and private sector personnel of seventeen developing countries in Asia and Africa.  

The course aimed to develop participants appreciation of the importance and significance – and complexity – of sustainable enterprise development in a regional and national context. It sought to develop the capacity of participants to assess and consider more effective enterprise and private sector development strategies and activities in their own countries.

The training course was designed and delivered using modular training approach where participants went through three progressive stages : i) Learn to Do training on concepts, techniques and tools to be employed; ii) Do to Learn the participants were required to apply what they learned in their work assignments with proper coaching from assigned advisors; and iii) Share to Learn the participants had opportunity to present the results of their group work, learning experiences and lessons learned.

Nine external resource persons and two in-house subject experts were invited to deliver lectures and facilitate discussions, and share experiences to the participants. Nine structured learning visits in Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Bangkok were conducted to enhance the participants understanding of the program contents and to apply the principles, process, structure, and stakeholders in planning and implementing business from the visits.

The training course comprised five inter-related modules. Module 1 Unleashing Entrepreneurship: Setting the Context allowed the facilitators and participants to introduce themselves and provided an overview of the learning program, methodology, and process. Module 2 The Essentials of Enterprise Development: Why and How presented experience of establishing enterprise Silk Net as well as simulation game on Business Strategy. Module 3 Ensuring Business Survival and Sustainable Growth covered the concepts of enabling environment such as business development and financial services, productivity and competitiveness, and value chains to strengthen the enterprise sector. Module 4 Managing Enterprises included study visits to enhance the participants understanding on the contents through observation and interaction with enterprises management teams. Module 5 Developing Cluster and Business-to-Business Networks (B2BNs) introduced the concepts and described key steps and suggested tools and methods for developing business clusters and networks.

The results from a range of evaluation methods showed high satisfaction rating by the participants. However, recommendations for improvement included providing more information on export consortia, SME policy and PPP, inviting guest speakers from senior management level, providing more case studies, and organizing discussion forum with local entrepreneurs.

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