Women's empowerment in small businesses and a finance system for startups will be discussed during this year's second meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council, or ABAC, in Jakarta on April 23-26, organizers said.
Indonesia, as the host nation, will focus on boosting trade, exports and investment through APEC, an intergovernmental forum of 21 Pacific Rim countries aimed at promoting free trade in the region. The country is the third-biggest economy in the forum, after the United States and China. About 150 officials from 21 member countries, including ABAC representatives, are expected to attend the meeting, scheduled to be opened by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.
"This year, Indonesia became a champion of financial inclusion, focusing on inclusivity in banking, retirement funding and insurance," local ABAC member Kartika Wirjoatmodjo said during a media event hosted by the organizing committee in Jakarta on April 9. The committee plans to promote the ABAC Impact Fund, a platform for financing companies and startups in the region, according to ABAC Indonesia chairman Anindya Bakrie.
"It is hoped that we won't only finance companies based on their commercial value, but also their social goals, social impact… The goal is to look for companies and startups that have social impact targets and millennial developers," he said. Anindya added that the initiative has great potential to make a significant impact on people in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Indonesia, with the growth of industries that also have social purpose.
Future development of those sectors must run parallel with sustainable development goals, he said. Women's empowerment in micro, small and medium enterprises will be discussed in a working group co-hosted by Shinta Kamdani, chief executive of the Sintesa Group, who is also a member of ABAC Indonesia, Anindya said.
"Four elements will be discussed: micro, small and medium enterprise development; connectivity; access to financing; and women's empowerment through genderless investment," Shinta said. Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani is expected to deliver the keynote address during a women's luncheon, which will be held to specifically discuss these fourth issues.
As startup financing will be among the main issues under discussion, influential entrepreneurs, such as Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma of China, are also scheduled to attend. APEC member states account for about half of the world's trade and investment, while startups have recorded robust growth in recent years. "The need for startup funds is also very large," Anindya said, adding that the ABAC meeting would further highlight financial inclusion, which is still lacking in Indonesia.
"In the future, within three to five years, with applications such as OVO, Go-Pay, LinkAja and many more, we can increase the inclusivity rate to 75 percent," he said. This year's first ABAC meeting took place in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 1-4. After Indonesia, the next gathering will be in China and then Chile.
The author is a writer of Jakarta Globe
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