Asia Foundation Hosts APEC App Challenge to Help the Asia-Pacific Region’s Small Businesses Expand

Hanoi, May 16, 2017 — The Asia Foundation, together with Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Vietnam Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), and Google will host the “APEC App Challenge” on May 18-19. Eleven teams of software developers from APEC member countries are arriving in the capital city to participate in a 24-hour marathon coding session. The app challenge will take place on the sidelines of the APEC Symposium on Trade and Innovation on May 19. Competing teams will also be considered for the APEC Digital Prosperity Award, a special prize recognizing a new digital product developed to expand inclusive growth across economies in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The APEC App Challenge is particularly important for the Asia-Pacific region, where MSMEs make up roughly 98 percent of all businesses and employ two-thirds of the region’s labor force,” said The Asia Foundation’s Senior Director of Digital Media and Technology Programs, John Karr. “For example, even though Indonesia’s SMEs contribute nearly 60 percent of GDP, their share of total exports is only 16 percent.”

The developers will attempt to build new mobile or web solutions to help the region’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSMEs) expand to new export markets. Participants are encouraged to think creatively and address the challenges faced by local MSMEs in these ways: 1) Standards and Regulatory Compliance, 2) Access to Financial Services, 3) Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 4) Building partner networks and gaining market intelligence.

“Although the internet has dramatically cut down the exporting costs for SMEs, especially in developed economies, businesses in the region are facing a number of challenges, and the benefits from international trade remain elusive,” explained Vietnam E-Commerce and Information Technology’s Principle Deputy Director General, Ms. Lai Viet Anh.

“The APEC App Challenge is a unique effort to generate learning and share new ideas across APEC by concurrently building potential solutions to help small businesses overcome existing barriers,” Google Asia Pacific’s Head of Trade and Economic Affairs Andrew Ure observed.

All finalists are encouraged to continue to refine their products and eventually take them to market. The winning team will receive direct support from The Asia Foundation and APEC to cover hosting and maintenance costs associated with this for up to two years.

“Ultimately, the goal of the APEC App Challenge is to highlight new ways of promoting inclusive, innovative, and sustainable growth in Asia-Pacific economies and stipulate policies that will promote more innovation to address trade issues,” added Dr. Alan Bollard, the APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director.

Follow #APECAppChallenge on Twitter this week to find out about the exciting and innovative solutions the developer teams will create.

The Asia Foundation is a nonprofit international development organization committed to improving lives across a dynamic and developing Asia. Informed by six decades of experience and deep local expertise, our programs address critical issues affecting Asia in the 21st century—governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation.

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Related locations: Vietnam
Related programs: Technology & Development

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