Participating in the 7th CLMV Leadership Program
Central Executive Committee
Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association
Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry
CEO, 7HR Business Group
The Institute for International Studies and Training (IIST) has organized the 7th CLMV Leadership program in order to contribute for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) by providing the opportunities for opinion-exchanges with Japanese government, official agencies as well as members of local chamber of commerce. It also includes site visits to the leading or model enterprises. 11 Governmental officers and senior executives from CLMV countries had a chance to participate in this program, and I attended as a representative of Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association (MYEA) under Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (UMFCCI) among others. This training was implemented for the period of 21 Oct to 26 Oct, 2013 in Tokyo and Hamamatsu.
The first day, I had a time for opinion exchange on the establishment of rules and regulation, promoting policy of SMEs and how the government of Japan encourage and support SMEs with officials of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Before I came to Japan, I didn't know that there are so many SMEs in Japan. Actually, there are big differences in business situations among SMEs. I imagine Japanese SMEs in particular would benefit substantially from deeper integration with Asia. Considering their limited resources, nearer markets such as CLMVs are most suitable destinations for a firm's first expansion abroad. SMEs account for a substantial share of Japan's economic output, the greater internationalization of Japanese SMEs could be a new growth driver for both Japan and Asia. Japanese SMEs operated mainly as suppliers for larger enterprises as part of the integrated supply chain groups. With some exceptions, SMEs tend to be domestically oriented and their products are exported indirectly via the value chains of large multinational enterprises and general trading houses. Many SMEs expand overseas not only to reduce costs but also to develop local markets and promote local sales.
The second day, we have got the valuable knowledge on how technical and marketing supports are provided for SMEs at Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation in Japan (SMRJ). SMRJ is opening a college, giving a chance to everyone who wants to study on management knowledge of SMEs. They provide supports for SMEs to start up. And we have visited Metran Co., Ltd. small but a unique manufacturing company in the medical equipment and device industry, founded and managed by a chairman who was born in Vietnam and studied and settled in Japan for many years now. The company is well known with world's first "High Frequency Oscillatory Mechanical Ventilator" for use with premature infants and selling series of medical equipment all over the world. Although a small enterprise, this company is producing quality medical apparatus using high technology backed with its intensive R&D efforts.
On the third day, jumping on the bullet train, we moved to Hamamatsu, one of the industrial cities in Japan. We are welcomed by the members of the Special Committee for International Economy of Hamamatsu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI). Following the lecture on the characteristics of local industry and economy as well as the challenges of the member companies, we had a chance to exchange opinion with the committee members. We have learned their views on investing in CLMV countries. By fully utilizing the available government's supporting schemes, Japanese SMEs can enhance their competitiveness, and there are many entrepreneurs to start up the business. Following the meeting, we were invited to visit the committee president's company, SOMIC Ishikawa Inc., which is producing automotive parts such as ball joint and has almost 50% share of the domestic supply to the major car makers such as Toyota and Suzuki. We had a chance to visit a unique factory "Tsutsumi Auto Parts Cooperative Association" in which 5 different suppliers of SOMIC Ishikawa put their operation together under one roof to maximize the production efficiency and cutting the cost . In this way, the companies can retain the competitiveness in the tight market.
Lastly on the day, we visited to Suzuki Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and welcomed by the founder Mr. Manji Suzuki. The company produces wide variety of harmonicas and also famous to the Japanese school children as its main products, Melodions (keyboard Harmonica) are widely used in the school throughout the country. We discussed how the demand of such instruments would grow in the educational market in the CLMV countries.
The fourth day, we visited a Unagi (eel) pie factory of Shunkado Co., Ltd., a famous local snack maker specialized for souvenir market. We learned that it's a typical souvenir of Hamamatsu and very popular even among foreigners. Uniqueness of the company's strategy is to limit and select the retailers to souvenir shops between Osaka and Tokyo. In this way, the products can maintain the high value in the souvenir market.
On the final day , we went ahead to Sumida City in Tokyo and learned about how localy originated traditional craft turned into value-added souvenir of Sumida City attracting not only to Japanese but also foreigners. We also walk around the Soramachi Building and Tokyo Skytree, world's tallest stand-alone communication tower. We also visited Daimatsu Senkojo Co., Ltd., which is famous for Edo-komon printing on variety of fabrics and materials.
In accordance with changing economic and industrial environment, Japan's METI, SMRJ, and Chambers of Commerce have been formulating policies and implementing schemes for fostering and supporting wide range of independent and vibrant SMEs. In contrast, CLMV countries have only limited government supports likes technology assistance, supplement for week infrastructure. I think that our governments may not have enough knowledge of our own SMEs. Therefore, it is highly recommended to review the Japanese experience on ideal SMEs support. Finance is most important aspect for starting up business for SMEs and there is no way to do business without it. Creative business ideas need to be supported and funded by all means for earlier development. Most of all, it is clear that the financial support system in Japan is mature enough and very strong that I have learned. And what we have learned after visit to Metran Co.,Ltd., Somic Ishikawa Inc., Suzuki Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co., Ltd. is that SMEs are very active in manufacturing sectors and make up an essential part of manufacturing activities in Japan. A very good framework has been built throughout the country as a strong basis to support and develop SMEs( or national growth).
We just want to thank IIST, METI and other SME related organizations on behalf of all participants for sharing SME knowledge with us. We've learned a lot from the CLMV Leadership Program, specifically, when we visited "SMEs". We have got great opportunities to learn about knowledge, prospective ideas, culture, nature of SMEs, government supporting schemes. All of which is really a springboard for supporting SMEs in our countries. The 7th CLMV Leadership Program was really memorable with benefits for obtaining SME knowledge. Also this program has opened up our eyes to the idea that there is so much that we have to learn about different opinions, comments on SMEs from each country and generate new ideas . Anyway, thanks so much again!
(original article : English)
• The 7th CLMV Leadership Program in Japan (FY2013)