In this edition, we would like to introduce our devices aimed at making seminar participants thoroughly gain knowledge, their activities after they return home and feedback from the people who supported the seminars. The article mainly covers seminars in the fields of small and medium-sized enterprise promotion.
Many developing countries are tackling challenges related to the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which play an important role in economic and industrial development and poverty alleviation. PREX has been holding seminars since 1995 in the field of SME promotion that ties into nurturing the support of industries. Fully 1,809 people from 118 countries have participated in the seminars to date. Two types of courses, which reflect the situations in the participating countries, have been implemented since 2001. One is “seminars for SME promotion.” These feature content related to assisting SMEs, including government policies, concrete measures and the role of local authorities. The other is “financial and technical support seminars for SME promotion.” They focus on financial and management support within SME promotion. Government administrators from various countries participate in both types of seminars. In the courses’ final stage, the participants draw up “action plans” (which tackle policy improvements and fulfillment for SME support in their own countries after they return home), utilizing knowledge learned in their seminars.
The seminar participants learn about leading case studies of SME promotion in Japan and the latest experiences, through PREX’s own distinctive seminar programs. They incorporate this knowledge with their various activities after returning home.
Around 30 to 40 of the seminars conducted by PREX each year are commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), a body that implements official development assistance (ODA). Seminars in the field of SME promotion account for about five to seven of the annual total. The standard seminar period is around a month.
Devices for deepening understanding
We would like to introduce our “devices” for deepening understanding on the seminar themes for participants and their activities after they return home. We will cite one seminar as an example.
How the programs are created
The “Financial and Technical Support for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (A) Seminar” was held from May 20 to June 19, 2015. Participating were a total of 10 people in jobs involved with SME promotion at central government ministries and agencies, local governments, public assistance institutions, chambers of commerce and industry and government-related financial institutions in Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Columbia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Along with learning about leading cases at Japanese SMEs and their experiences to date, the participants were able to deepen their understanding of potentially useful points and the extent by which Japanese enterprises adopt assistance policies, by visiting some actual SMEs and hearing directly from their managers.
Devices for deepening understanding
1) Building a platform
Having an environment where asking questions is easy, people learn together and time is set aside for exchanges of views is important for deepening the understanding of the seminar participants, who come from a variety of different countries. In order to create a platform for the seminars, we are establishing time periods for “hometown pride” and “introduction to famous tourism spots in your homeland,” while creating an atmosphere where the participants can first get to know and speak among themselves.
2) Organizing and digesting information
We have set aside time for “group discussions” where seminar participants get together to present questions or knowledge they have learned, to allow them to organize and integrate the events seen during their visits. PREX staff members prompt the seminar participants so they can ask questions on any kind of topic, and the staff give answers to the questions as quickly as possible.
3) Drawing up action plans
The seminar participants draw up action plans using the project cycle management (PCM) approach. The lecturers and PREX staff members give advice on how to write plans, etc. *PCM is a strategic project management approach for solving problems. It identifies the problems within a situation and searches for methods of solving them through analyses of their causes. The execution plans are conducted as projects.