COA Team wins third place in APEC App Challenge

Published: 14 September 2023


Commission on Audit’s (COA) Gerald M. Mendeja and Jenero C. de Guzman won third place in the final round of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) App Challenge held on 19 August 2023 in Seattle, Washington, United States of America (USA).

The team’s entry, “EMERGE” app, revolves around empowering Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to excel in the global marketplace. It addresses the challenges highlighted in the 2020 APEC Report by providing a comprehensive platform with three main features: an Export Readiness Assessment Tool, a personalized Assessment Report, and a Public Global Directory. The app assists MSMEs in evaluating their readiness for international trade, offering actionable advice for improvement, and showcasing their businesses and products to a global audience, thereby promoting economic opportunities for underrepresented groups.

Messrs. Mendeja and De Guzman, both from the COA Information Technology Office, ventured into the APEC App Challenge on their own initiative, entering an esteemed international coding competition that unites software developers and designers from across the APEC region. Their team was among the five finalists, alongside the USA, People’s Republic of China, Malaysia, and Thailand. A total of 35 teams participated in the competition. The finalist teams were invited to attend the APEC App Challenge at Digital Month during APEC’s Third Senior Officials Meeting in Seattle, Washington from 17-22 August 2023 to demonstrate and present their newly completed apps to a panel of judges and an audience including APEC policymakers and stakeholders up to the ministerial level, entrepreneurs, and development actors from around the region.

Bagging first place was the team from the USA while the team from China won second place. The winners were recognized on 21 August 2023 in Seattle during the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting which was attended by economic ministers, APEC officials, delegates, and other participants from the challenge.

The APEC App Challenge aims to foster innovation and address economic priorities through the use of technology. It has consistently delivered outstanding applications that promise to assist small business owners and underrepresented groups in accessing and benefiting from the global digital marketplace. The focus of this year’s APEC App Challenge aligns with the 2023 APEC theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All,” emphasizing the interconnected concepts of resiliency, sustainability, and inclusivity. The competition attracted a substantial response from the tech community in the Asia-Pacific region, setting a record for the number of applications received and the economies represented.

Awarding Ceremony: (From left to right) Dr. Rebecca Sta. Maria, Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat; Jenero C. de Guzman; Gerald M. Mendeja; Ambassador Matt Murray, US Senior Official for APEC.