The Mekong Business Initiative (MBI) was invited by the “Investing in Women” project which is funded by the Australian Government to attend the ASEAN Women’s Business Conference to present their work in supporting women-owned businesses in the region. The conference took place in the Philippines and was attended by women business leaders, government representatives, officials from ASEAN partners, and representatives from other supporting international organizations.

Dominic Mellor, Senior Economist and Project Leader at MBI, demonstrated the initiative’s commitment to business advocacy, alternative financing, and innovation with a focus on lessening the gender gap. In Vietnam, MBI has encouraged policy change designed to support SMEs to give priority to women-owned businesses. In Lao PDR, MBI facilitated the incorporation of a working group at the Lao Business Forum to represent women-owned businesses. In Myanmar, MBI is carrying out extensive gender surveying across the agricultural value chain.

MBI has also created the Women’s Initiative for Start-up Entrepreneurship (WISE) to foster innovation for women-owned start-ups. Women-owned start-ups received WISE grants earlier in 2017 as a part of the Mekong Innovative Start-up Tourism Accelerator (MIST).

MBI is an initiative sponsored by the Government of Australia and Asia Development Bank.