How has supporting MSMES to operate legally and sustainably improved forest governance and livelihoods?


  • Location


  • Date

    14 July 2021

  • Time

    14:30 – 16:00 CET
    7:30 – 9:00 GMT -5
    19:30 – 21:00 GMT+7

  • Organisers

    European Forest Institute
    FAO-EU FLEGT Programme


Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play a critical role in meeting the growing demand for timber products worldwide and can support the fight against illegality by providing a source of legal, traceable timber.

Equipping MSMEs with the business management skills, knowledge and competences necessary to comply with regulations generates transformational changes that not only improve legality in the timber market, but contribute to sustaining livelihoods.

Over the last decade, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and the European Forest Institute (EFI) have supported MSMEs to operate legally and sustainably.

This webinar explored how changes in practices generated through the support of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme and EFI have increased market access and enhanced the competitiveness of MSMEs, while reducing their vulnerability to shifts on the international and domestic market. We discussed the experiences of MSMEs who have benefited from FAO and EFI support, and provide “food for thought” for future interventions.

Panellists offered perspectives from Asia, Africa and Latin America on:

  • Building the capacity of MSMEs to operate legally and sustainably
  • Integrating MSMEs into legal supply chains
  • Helping MSMEs to overcome barriers to formalisation

The webinar was held in English, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with simultaneous interpretation.

Full recording


14:30 Opening remarks by Daphne HewittFAO-EU FLEGT Programme Manager and Team Leader, FAO

14:35 Statements

  • Wichat Prathanrat
    Deputy Permanent Secretary of Banthi Subdistrict MunicipalityThailand
  • Le Phi Chien
    Director of Bach Viet and Moc Dan Phuong JSCViet Nam

14:45 Moderated panel

  • Ngo Sy Hoai
    Vice President & Secretary General, Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VIFOREST)Viet Nam
  • Peter Zormelo
    Head, Trade & Industry Development Forestry Commission (TIDD)Ghana
  • Laurent Ayemou
    Independent Expert, MSMEs, and Former Project Manager, AVSICôte d’Ivoire
  • Alejandra Ospitia
    Executive Director, Federación de Industriales de la Madera (FEDEMADERAS)Colombia

15:15 Q&A session

15:50 Closing remarks by Valérie Merckx, Head of FLEGT and REDD Unit, EFI

Moderated by: Sheam Satkuru, Director of Operations, International Tropical Timber Organisation, Yokohama, Japan


Daphne Hewitt Daphne Hewitt is a Senior Forestry Officer in FAO and Team Leader for the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, having joined the institution in 2013 to lead the Programme’s portfolio in Latin America. She subsequently oversaw the expansion of the Programme’s support to private sector, focusing on micro, small and medium enterprises including community-led enterprises. Daphne’s background is in sustainable forest management, forest certification and support to forest governance reform in tropical timber producing countries.

Wichat Prathanrat Wichat Prathanrat is the deputy director of Baan Thi District Municipality, near Chang Mai. Many MSMEs in the district work with reclaimed timber to make furniture and handicrafts. They are very important for the local economy and create much needed jobs in the district as well as conserving the country’s art and culture. However, in the past, reclaimed timber was not considered a legal source of timber. Those MSMEs working with reclaimed timber established Reclaimed Timber Association (RTA) with the intention of advocating national recognition of reclaimed as legal timber. Wichat has been elected as the first chairperson of the RTA. It has been active representing the members and participating in EU-Thailand VPA discussions.

Le Phi Chien Le Phi Chien is the Director of Bach Viet, located in the Lien Ha wood village. Chien has been progressive in making production improvements of the factory and has been using lower risk domestic and imported timber to make modern furniture.  To improve the band image of Lien Ha and national distribution, he and eight other MSMEs established Dan Phuong Carpentry Joint Stock Company (JSC). The founding members appointed Chien as the Director of JSC. The JSC recently opens a showroom in Dong Nai city, HCMC, with the goal of wider distribution of Lien Ha furniture throughout the Southern provinces of Vietnam.

Ngo Sy Hoai Ngo Sy Hoai is the Vice President & Secretary General of the Vietnam Timber & Forest Products Association (VIFORES) and accumulates over 18 years of experience in forest and wood industry-related NGOs. With broad experience in forest industry projects and programmes, Hoai has been contributing to the expansion of sustainable forest management and responsible timber processing and trading initiatives in Viet Nam. In his current position at VIFOREST, Hoai also supports local and overseas forest enterprises to legally carry out operations in the country.

Peter Zormelo Peter Zormelo is the Head of Trade and Industry Development at the Ghana Forestry Commission, with a proven track record of success in forest enterprise development, strategic business management and forest product marketing. Peter is recognized for his in-depth knowledge and capacity to blend technical acumen and managerial insight to leverage strategies. Zormelo has over the years initiated or actively participated in policies and decisions that have significantly impacted on the growth and development of the timber industry.

Laurent Ayemou Laurent Ayemou is an independent expert in support to timber sector-related micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and is a former project manager at AVSI. Ayemou has  experience in assisting  MSMEs to formalize through trainings and mentoring.  Specifically, Ayemou has worked on developing and strengthening associations, and on implementing inclusive and participatory mechanisms for the supply of legal timber.  Ayemou has coordinated and managed numerous VPA-FLEGT-related projects in Côte d’Ivoire and is an active member of several thematic groups related to domestic timber market.

Alejandra Ospitia Alejandra Ospitia is the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Forest Entrepreneurs in Colombia (FEDEMADERAS), a position she has held since 2006. With over 30 years of experience working with MSMEs, Ospitia has acted as an advisor to the national government, headed different guilds, and designed public policies and instruments to support SMEs. Ospitia was also a professor at the Universidad Externado de Colombia where she taught ‘Public policies for industry’ and is a lawyer for the same university with training in SME management.

Valerie Merckx Valérie Merckx works at the European Forest Institute (EFI), leading the FLEGT and REDD Unit, which connects people with knowledge to protect and restore the world’s forests. She provides strategic leadership to the Unit as it helps tropical countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation by improving forest and land-use governance. Valérie previously held the role of REDD Team leader at EFI. Before that she worked at the European Commission as part of the EU international climate negotiations team, where she followed forest and land-use issues. She has a background in forestry, natural resource management and agronomics.