Digital Universities Asia inaugural event in Malaysia

UP ISSI at inaugural Digital Universities Asia event in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Mr. Reynold Ferdinand Manegdeg, Head of the Business Enterprise Development Division at the University of the Philippines Institute for Small-Scale Industries (UP ISSI), took center stage at the Times Higher Education’s inaugural (THE) Digital Universities Asia (DUASIA) event held from May 9 to 10, 2023, at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The event brought together higher education, industry, and policy leaders to explore the future of digital-first higher education in Asia.

Digital Universities Asia inaugural event in Malaysia
Mr. Reynold Ferdinand G. Manegdeg (left), Head of UP ISSI’s Business Enterprise Development Division poses for a photo with fellow speakers Dr. Leonard K. Cheng (center), President & Chair Professor of Economics from Lingnan University, and Dr. Tirso A. Ronquillo (right), President of Batangas State University

Under the theme “Smart innovation for lifelong education,” the event showcased the latest technologies set to transform universities and featured interactive panels, live demonstrations, workshops, and networking opportunities. The event’s agenda explored strategies for universities to leverage “inclusive business” practices as a solution to bridge the digital divide and mitigate inequality in Asia.

In his presentation during the 2nd day of the event, Mr. Manegdeg shared the results of a UP ISSI research project titled “A Study on the Challenges of the Relationship Among Coffee Enterprises in Atok, Benguet.” This 2019 study comprehensively analyzed the dynamics between small and large enterprises, including the potential challenges and benefits inherent in such partnerships, in the context of inclusivity. 

According to Mr. Manegdeg, the study revealed that the effectiveness and sustainability of inclusive business (IB) models should not be evaluated solely on inclusivity. Instead, it should also consider business competitiveness and equity provision, ensuring that all parties involved benefit equally from the arrangement.

He emphasized the importance of fostering a thriving ecosystem that supports smaller or marginalized groups in a sustainable IB model. He called for clear definitions of each stakeholder’s role and urged the government and academia to focus on enabling this ecosystem rather than regulating or creating a rigid system that may hinder the natural dynamism among enterprises.

Finding the right balance of incentives was also highlighted in Manegdeg’s talk, as he stressed the need for governments to provide incentives for larger businesses that are willing to sacrifice productivity to include the marginalized sector.

Lastly, Manegdeg called for more case studies on the relationship between small and large enterprises to determine the most effective way to promote the welfare of the marginalized sector.

The inaugural DUASIA event provided a platform for sharing best practices and innovative solutions to shape the future of higher education in Asia. Manegdeg’s insights into sustainable IB models and the importance of supporting marginalized groups contributed to a broader discourse on the crucial role of the academe in promoting the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Disclaimer: The views expressed herein or in any article in the UP ISSI website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of UP ISSI nor the views of the University of the Philippines.

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