Throughout 2021, three ILO projects in South-East Asia have worked together to support the resilience of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, has launched several digital initiatives aimed at supporting women and men-owned MSMEs and aspiring entrepreneurs to recover and become more sustainable and resilient.
During the past year, a collaboration between three projects – the Rebuilding Better: Fostering Business Resilience Post-COVID-19 Project, the Supporting the Resilience of Lao MSMEs in Response to COVID-19 Project, and the Supporting Cambodian MSMEs to Build Resilience for post-COVID-19 Project – has enabled the ILO to assist MSMEs in Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
From the onset, the ILO Peer Learning Hub for Enterprises in Asia-Pacific has been at the center of the collaboration, which originally sprung from an initiative to add a dedicated COVID-19 Resource page to share tools and other resources that could be used to support MSMEs during the crisis to the page. As this collaboration was progressing, it evolved to also encompass the adaption of materials and the creation of new resources that were suited to providing assistance in a digital environment.
In early 2021, the collaboration was recognized by ILO headquarters, which contributed additional funds to support these digital initiatives. As a result, the three projects were able to ultimately create the COVID-19 Resource Page on the Peer Learning Hub, where anyone interested can now find additional resources that have been developed under this partnership, such as 30 MSME Resilience videos, five new training tools and accompanying guides and checklists, three Google Primer-ITCILO digital programmes and other resources.
Several activities have also been undertaken as part of this collaboration, including the webinar ‘Voices of MSMEs’ that was organized in early November and a workshop for Business Development Service providers in all five countries covered under this collaboration, to support them in building digital facilitation skills.
“The collaboration between the three MSME projects has been very valuable for ensuring that the ILO can provide timely and impactful support to MSMEs in South-East Asia that are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With social restrictions and lockdowns in many countries, many of our tools and other resources had to be adapted to be used in the digital space. We have also had to experiment to come up with new methods and formats for delivering support. This collaboration enabled us to do this together, building a lot of synergies between the projects.” said Charles Bodwell, ILO Enterprise Development Specialist for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific.
Find out more about the COVID-19 Business Resilience page and materials produced by the ILO projects here.