Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Summit and Regional Exchanges


Incorporating skill-building trainings and as a result of the breakout sessions, participants of the 2015 YSEALI Summit developed a public service announcement or information campaign to raise awareness of a pressing issue to the ASEAN community. See some of 2015 campaign/PSA videos below.


United States Department of State


Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam


Many youth in the ASEAN region lack capacity-building support and networks. As a result, they have been unable to develop the technical and soft skills and industry partnerships that support their development as leaders in their communities and in the region.


Making Cents International supports the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), President Barack Obama’s signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia. In collaboration with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Embassies in the region, we designed and delivered three important YSEALI events in 2015. 


The flagship event was the YSEALI Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 19–23. It  brought together 500 YSEALI members from 10 ASEAN member countries—Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The objective of the three-and-a-half day program was to: 


  • facilitate relationship-building among the future ASEAN leaders

  • promote a unified ASEAN community

  • address trends in region and promote better understanding of their challenges and opportunities

  • harness the innovation and expertise of YSEALI members to present innovative solutions to real problems 

  • foster important leadership and professional skills development

  • use the increased skills developed and knowledge gained to take collaborative action and create and distribute public service announcements to the ASEAN community that address key challenges and opportunities around economic development, environment, education and civic engagement


Making Cents organized 34 breakout sessions with US and ASEAN Summit mentors and Malaysian non-profits and private sector companies. We secured the participation of major international corporations (including Microsoft, Intel, Uber, and Dell), local businesses and entrepreneurs, and social activists. 


The sessions covered a range of topics: from leading a diverse workforce to freedom of the press in the digital age, environmental protection, presentation skills, volunteerism, advocacy and policy change, and fundraising tools and skills. These activities helped participants to leverage cross-regional teams to address key challenges in their communities as well as access support and expertise from local and international mentors. Click here to see a highlight video from the event.


Making Cents also convened two multi-day YSEALI workshops—one in Vietnam and one in Singapore—for young entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and leaders. These connected participants with resources that support entrepreneurial endeavors and success in the workplace. 


  • A three-day workshop for young entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs in Vietnam in May 2015 was titled, Entrepreneur Intensive: Developing Entrepreneurial Mindsets & Skillsets to Start and Grow Successful Businesses. Making Cents provided training, resources, and mentorship on how to start and scale a business, including tools and guidance on how to develop a formal two-minute pitch on a business venture and customize the pitch for various donors. 

  • A five-day workshop in Singapore in December 2015 was titled, Bridging the Skills Gap: Equipping Youth Adults with the ‘Soft Skills’ To Enter and Advance in the Workplace. By the end of the meeting, young leaders who attended could readily articulate the value of employer-driven workforce readiness and soft skills training programs and impart this information to stakeholders in their communities.


Both workshops connected young leaders to an expanded network of employers and trainers to whom they can reach out for ongoing professional growth and employment opportunities. Making Cents secured the participation of representatives from local and international private sector companies, including Intel Corporation, McKinsey & Company, and Microsoft.