Increased support for young entrepreneurs and small businesses in the Asia-Pacific helps to encourage innovation that can boost job growth and deliver the next generation of products and services to consumers, commercial development experts agree.

Seeking to take further steps in this direction, APEC commerce officials, industry thought leaders, venture capitalists and researchers recently gathered in Chinese Taipei to meet with start-ups from the region. Together, they explored funding prospects and management strategies for cross-border development during an inaugural APEC Start-Up Accelerator Leadership Summit.

“Entrepreneurship and the development of small business are the backbone of economies in the Asia-Pacific,” said Chang Chia-juch, Economics Minister of Chinese Taipei. “They originate and shape cutting-edge ideas that create new sources of employment, foster growth and enhance our daily lives.”

“Our job as policymakers is to break down barriers to innovation and ensure that emerging business leaders have access to the knowledge, resources and tools they need to succeed in today’s globalized economy,” Chang explained. “It is our duty to establish a network of accelerators in APEC that can integrate regional resources into a seamless knowledge-sharing and funding platform.”

Small and medium enterprises account for around 90 percent of businesses in the APEC region and employ as much as 60 percent of its work force. But they only generate around 30 percent of the region’s exports and less than ten percent survive beyond the founder’s lifetime, according to data from the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Working Group.

“One of the biggest challenges start-ups face is not a lack of ideas or creativity but insufficient capital,” said Dr Wimonkan Kosumas, Chair of the APEC Small and Medium Enterprise Working Group. “APEC economies are working to cut red tape and improve transparency to make it easier for investors to pursue these sorts of opportunities across borders.”

“Through one-on-one consulting and group mentoring initiatives that include private sector involvement, we are seeking to help entrepreneurs and small businesses build their management capabilities,” Dr Kosumas added. “This is vital to opening the door to new markets and boosting their participation in global supply chains which can allow them to flourish.”

Talent and business model development, international branding and funding body engagement were some of the issues raised by delegates. These and related policy areas will be addressed further by APEC SME Ministers when they meet in Bali, Indonesia on 7 September 2013.

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For more information or to arrange possible interview opportunities, please contact David Hendrickson +65 9137 3886 at drh@apec.org or Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 at mc@apec.org.

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