Mekong Institute (MI) successfully conducted a one-week regional training on “SME Cluster Development and Export Consortia Formation” from September 12 - 17, 2016 at MI’s Residential Training Center in Khon Kaen, Thailand. The training is part of the ongoing project on “Enhancing Competiveness 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).
The training aimed to accomplish the following: facilitate the development of SME clusters and formation of export consortia in 19 SEC provinces in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam (CMTV); promote SME clusters and business linkages supporting SMEs’ integration into regional and global value chains; reinforce long-term business cooperation and networking between CMTV and beyond; formulate SME cluster development plan on identified needs of the cluster; and promote cluster product for value addition through business plan for securing finance from commercial banks and Microfinance Institutions (MFI).
The event was attended by 35 participants, representing SME product clusters, provincial trade and industry-related departments, and business chambers and associations from 19 provinces along the SEC in CMTV. They gained knowledge and skills covering the interrelated themes on Cluster Identification Need and Development of Potential Clusters, SME Cluster Development Plan and Business Plan, Export Consortia Formation, and Cluster Financing.
Main problems of the SME clusters, value-added possibilities of the cluster products, product diversification, marketing plan, technology adoption, skill training, packaging and storage facilities were also discussed. At the same time, strategies in managing cluster for higher efficiency and competitiveness for integration into the regional and global value chain were established. In addition to the in-class training, two structured learning visits to SME Clusters of Pottery, Food & Beverage, and Community-based Tourism in Nakhon Ratchasima province of Thailand were organized to provide practical experience and knowledge on SME cluster models in Thailand.
As part of the training program, participants developed Action Plans (AP) on SME cluster development. The APs will be implemented in their respective provinces during next 6 months with technical assistance provided by the team of Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) Department.
The participants will return to MI to report on the results of AP implementation in April 2017.