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Southeast Asian innovators head to NZ

Several entrepreneurs from Southeast Asia are headed to New Zealand to build connections with their Kiwi counterparts.

Six entrepreneurs will visit the country between 28 October and 6 November to take part in the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative, managed by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The initiative is designed to strengthen links between businesspeople in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and those in New Zealand.

Four of the group will speak alongside top Kiwi innovators Addison Dale, Antonia Speight, Srinivasa Rao Munagala and Victor Yuan at Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Start-up Secrets event, held in Auckland on Wednesday November 4.

The six entrepreneurs are:

• Pilasluck (Guy) Anuntathanachokedee, CEO of premium fruit wine and juice company Mae Nai Winery, Thailand

• Carlo Calimon, co-owner and chief marketing officer of mobile app company TheKard (MobKard), Philippines

• Irvan Helmi, director and co-founder of PT Anomali Coffee and PT Rosso Bianco, Indonesia

• Dustin Masancay, associate director for ventures, IdeaSpace, an innovation and entrepreneurship NGO in the Philippines

• Sopheakmonkol (Monkol) Sok, CEO and co-founder of tech company Codingate, Cambodia

• Kelvin Soo, manager of biotechnology company Furley Bioextracts Sdn Bhd, Malaysia

They will interact with New Zealand counterparts in Auckland and Wellington, meet government agencies and industry bodies, and undertake professional development at the University of Auckland’s Business School and The Icehouse.

Running since 2012, the ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative has brought nearly 50 dynamic entrepreneurs and business leaders from Southeast Asia to New Zealand, building business connections and facilitating trade links.

This year the programme has been made reciprocal, enabling New Zealand business leaders to explore opportunities in the region. The first group of New Zealanders – tech entrepreneurs – travelled to Thailand and Singapore in June. Another group from the agribusiness and social entrepreneurship sector will visit the Philippines in December.

Adam McConnochie, ASEAN Young Business Leaders Initiative project manager, says the six Southeast Asian entrepreneurs visiting in October are key figures in the start-up scenes of their home countries.

 “Based on the experiences of past participants in this programme, they are likely to become great advocates for building connections between New Zealand and their home country,” McConnocie says. “As New Zealand’s trade ties to Southeast Asia continue to grow, they will act as an important resource for Kiwis doing business in the region.”

McConnocie  says connections forged through the YBLI programme have resulted in long-term business relationships. Past participants are now importing New Zealand products such as honey, and have purchased New Zealand technology and have built educational connections.