With just 24 hours to go, 22 software developers from APEC economies are racing to build new online tools to help small businesses grow. As participants in the 2017 APEC App Challenge, these talented coders are competing to build mobile or web applications that can help SMEs begin exporting their products overseas.

The goal of the APEC App Challenge arises out of the recognition by APEC Ministers and officials that the internet plays an important role in promoting the growth of SMEs in the region. The App Challenge is supported by APEC, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Viet Nam, The Asia Foundation and Google.

At the official launch of the APEC App Challenge on Thursday, Lai Viet Anh, Principal Deputy Director General of the Viet Nam E-Commerce and Information Technology Agency, remarked that, “Recently, with the widespread use of the internet, the cost of finding overseas customers and exporting has come down dramatically. That has allowed more and more small businesses to engage in international trade and join global value chains.”

Participants in the App Challenge were also enthusiastic about the role that technology can play in supporting small enterprises.

Noting that the vast majority of Asia-Pacific businesses are SMEs, Qamra Jema Khan, an Android developer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, appreciated that the App Challenge seeks to use technology to help small enterprises “chart their destiny in the global ecosystem.”

“Even with limited resources,” added Frederick Fogerty, a participant from Auckland, New Zealand, “technology can have a substantial impact.”

During the APEC App Challenge period, Qamra, Fogerty, and the other participants will compete for recognition at the 2017 APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting in Ha Noi, and for prize packages sponsored by The Asia Foundation and Google.

Though the App Challenge will end on May 19, the software products it generates will have the potential to make a positive impact. Thanks to the participants’ efforts, the App Challenge is set to result in the creation of real, tangible and scalable products with the power to help the Asia-Pacific’s small businesses take advantage of the internet to overcome persistent barriers to growth.

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For further details, or to arrange possible media interviews, please contact:

David Hendrickson (in Ha Noi) +65 9137 3886 at drh@apec.org

Michael Chapnick (in Ha Noi) +84 122 7280 513 at mc@apec.org

More on APEC meetings, events, projects and publications can be found on www.apec.org. You can also follow APEC on Twitter and join us on Facebook and LinkedIn.