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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

APEC SME Week gets underway with a focus on digitalization and innovation for small- and medium-sized businesses

The event, which opened today in Concepción and continues until Friday, is bringing together representatives from the 21 APEC member economies.   Activities were opened by the Deputy Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration at the Chinese Taipei Ministry of Economic Affairs, Pei-Ti Hu, as well as the Regional Governor of the Biobío Region, Sergio Giacaman and the Regional Secretary of the Chilean Economy Ministry, Mauricio Gutiérrez.

Monday, September 2, 2019.  How small- and medium-sized enterprises be empowered so that they can join in the digital transformation and innovate with younger generations in mind?  This question was the focus of talks at the Offline to Online (O2O) Forum, which opened APEC Chile 2019 SME Week, held at the Mitrinco Convention Center in Concepción, Biobío Region.

The event, which runs until Friday, is one of the activities being held prior to the Leaders’ Summit in November. During this APEC SME Week, efforts will focus on internationalization, digital transformation and access to finance for start-ups, and micro, small and medium enterprises.

Activities were opened by the Deputy Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprise Administration at the Chinese Taipei Ministry of Economic Affairs, Pei-Ti Hu, as well as the Regional Governor of the Biobío Region, Sergio Giacaman and the Regional Secretary of the Chilean Economy Ministry, Mauricio Gutiérrez.

“This is a historic milestone for the Biobío Region, and we hope that it proves beneficial to Chile and to our SMEs by allowing them to gain a presence around the world and learn from others’ international experiences as well as by creating opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises to develop links with representatives from member economies during their visit to Chile,” stated Regional Governor Giacaman. 

Mauricio Gutiérrez, the Regional Secretary of the Chilean Economy Ministry commented that, “the event will benefit the local economy, especially the hospitality industry since hotels are almost fully booked.” This is based on the fact that the city is expecting over 600 visitors throughout the week. The Regional Secretary added that “it is essential that we focus on SMEs, which are vital to both the Chilean economy and the global economy, because 97% of the businesses set up in the APEC region are SMEs and they provide around two-thirds of jobs.”

Participating in the O2O Forum were public policy experts from across APEC, who also shared their experiences with digital transformation. Among them was Jake Colvin, Executive Director of the Global Innovation Forum (GIF). This US non-profit start-up connects entrepreneurs, small businesses, development and university communities with policymakers and select corporations to explore the opportunities and challenges of participating in the global marketplace.

Pablo Schcolnik, Consulting Director, Business Hacking and Digital Transformation Latam at Globant, was another contributor.  Globant is an Argentine start-up and one of the 14 Latin American unicorn companies.  It provides services to other companies, guiding them in the use of technologies, artificial intelligence and automatization so that their clients’ businesses can run more efficiently and effectively.    

In the afternoon session, start-ups from member economies, such as Chinese Taipei, Malaysia, Peru and Chile shared their experiences with respect to innovating their businesses and the need to have an online presence and undergo digital transformation in order to grow.

Tomorrow, APEC SME Week will focus on the Fintech International Forum (financial technology).

Running parallel, and as part of efforts by the Ministry to create training opportunities for entrepreneurs, two of a total of four talks by “Impulsa Facebook Concepción” will be given. This private company will offer sessions on September 3 and 4 at the Bío Bío Theater. The goal is to train more than 600 entrepreneurs or SMEs in the use of the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram in order to promote their businesses.