Mekong Institute (MI) successfully conducted a two-day Joint Synthesis and Evaluation (S&E) Workshop on “SME Cluster Development and Export Consortia Formation” and “Business Database Development in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC)” from June 8-9, 2017 at its Residential Training Center. The workshop is part of the ongoing project on “Enhancing Competitiveness of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Southern Economic Corridor (SEC) of ASEAN Mekong Subregion (AMS)” funded by Japan – ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).
Twenty-nine representatives of SME product clusters, provincial trade and industry-related departments, and chambers of commerce and business associations from 19 project provinces in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (CMTV) attended the workshop. Participants have implemented the Action Plans (APs) since the completion of the two regional training programs conducted in 2016. The S&E workshop is a consolidated event where MI provided a highly interactive platform for the participants to review, reflect and learn from each other on their AP implementation.
Participants also shared and obtained feedback from the co-participants regarding the progress, outputs and lessons learned from the individual AP implementation. They first reported the achievements obtained – such as product certifications, development of new product package design, purchase of production equipment, the creation of product brochure and the collection of business profiles. However, the participants also raised existing challenges and additional capacity building needs essential for cluster development and business database development (e.g. product quality, farming and production technologies, value addition, production cost, finance and human resources, sales and marketing, product export procedure, identification of regional and global market and profiling of business data.)
At the same time, an evaluation of the training programs, as well as monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the AP implementation progress through group discussions, were conducted. The participants shared the most challenging parts of AP implementation, the implementation strategies, and the technical assistance, and external resources needed.
MI will take suggestions, recommendations and capacity building needs into account, and will continue to assist the project’s beneficiaries and stakeholders in improving capacity and competitiveness, especially for SMEs in the SEC under the project framework.