Project Title: Enhancing Digital Economy Participation for ASEAN Women MSMEs

Budget: USD 5.6M

Proponent: Asia Pacific Women's Information Network Center (APWINC), ROK

Period: 2021-2027

Project Description

A major part of ASEAN economy consists of micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Female ownership of enterprises is believed to be relatively high in ASEAN, with an estimated 61.3 million women entrepreneurs across the region (USAID, 2018). Thus, the overall MSMEs’ empowerment could be associated with better performance of women MSMEs and it will be able to make significant contribution to ASEAN economy.

Meanwhile, as the role of information communication technologies (ICTs) is getting more significant, the world has been transitioning towards a digital economy. e-Business is one of the up-to-date facets of the digital economy and it has great potential for women entrepreneurship by providing flexibility. It also requires relatively less capital to start and run e-Business than the traditional business because online and automated business processing reduces fixed cost to maintain their business. As key enablers of digital economy, ICTs can allow MSMEs to join new added-value creation processes and to manage their existing businesses more effectively. ICTs have the potential to empower women entrepreneurs and enable them to overcome persistent obstacles and barriers to their businesses.

Therefore, as the proposed project builds upon the ASEAN’s commitment to women’s economic empowerment, it aims to enhance ASEAN women’s participation in digital economy. In order to achieve this overall goal, the project constitutes the following major activities:

  1. Developing e-Business Training Toolkit for ASEAN Women MSMEs.
  2. Fostering e-Business trainers in AMS
  3. E-Business capacity building trainings for women MSMEs in AMS
  4. Encouraging and supporting ASEAN women MSMEs to participate in digital economy


Introduction of Proponents/Implementing Agencies

Asia Pacific Women’s Information Network Center (Hereafter APWINC) was founded in 1996 to promote gender equality and empower women through Information and Communication Technology (ICT). In 1998, APWINC, an affiliated research center of Sookmyung Women’s University (Hereafter SMU) dedicated for international cooperation projects, was appointed as an Institution for UNESCO Chair in Communication Technology for Women. APWINC’s vision is to play a pioneer role to overcome the ‘gender digital divide’ and make efforts to bridge the gap in ICT area. 

For the purpose of promoting cooperation within the ASEAN region and between Korea and ASEAN, APWINC has been conducted various projects for development cooperation, technology transfer, human resources development and exchange, cultural and academic exchange, etc. by the ASEAN-ROK fund.

In 2009 APWINC conducted a project “Development and Implementation of ICT Training Tool for Improving Standards of Living of Rural Women” with ITU (The International Telecommunications Union), and locally customized the ICT training in the Philippines and Bhutan.

With the increasing need for the expansion of the project based on its effectiveness, considering regional characteristics, APWINC proposed the 2009 project to ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Project in partnership with ITU in 2010 in order to expand the range to the other ASEAN nations. APWINC run ASEAN-ROK Cooperation Project in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2017.

<2017> ASEAN Women’s Economic Empowerment through Digital Literacy and e-Business Education

  • Conducted a project for ASEAN Women’s economic empowerment through ICT use and e-business education
  • Developed a program for ICT and e-business education for female entrepreneurs in ASEAN member states
  • Developed a training program and localized training contents

<2013> Strategy for ASEAN Women’s Socioeconomic Empowerment through ICT Literacy and Leadership Education

  • Developed of ASEAN women’s ICT development index (WIDI) applicable to policymaking and implementation for improving ASEAN women’s ICT Literacy
  • Built up education contents of ICT/Leadership/Livelihood-based for women’s ICT literacy
  • Utilized a library as a platform for women’s ICT education
  • Trained female micro-entrepreneurs for ICT literacy and leadership

<2012> Development and Delivery of Livelihood-based e-Service for ASEAN Women

  • Conducted preliminary research on the current status and demands of e-Services for ASEAN women
  • Built database of the ICT use of women in ASEAN
  • Produced an E-Service toolkit and conducted its pilot application for ASEAN women

<2010> Promotion of Rural Women’s Livelihood with ICT Use

  • Conducted research on the needs of the information and motive for utilizing ICT among rural women of the 10 ASEAN member states
  • Developed customized training contents for sustainable usage
  • Enhanced the quality of local ICT education by empowering local trainers
  • Implemented rural women’s capacity building activities to utilize ICT