The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) has a history of working closely with the government to craft trade-friendly policies and increase Korea’s economic growth. As a result of the strong combination of the association’s efforts and the resulting governmental policies, Korea’s economic growth since the 1960s has resulted in Korea having the 14th largest GDP (at purchasing power parity). However, the challenges that face Korea’s economic growth in the future are different from those it has successfully navigated since the 1960s. Global trends dictate that small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in Korea need to become more competitive, that an aging society presents risks for a leadership gap, and that innovation must be a priority.

KITA is rising to these global challenges through three core programs. The first addresses the need for SME competitiveness. KITA has started an online mall to help provide hands on education for these SMEs to learn the rules of the online road. Through their work setting up eCommerce in KITA’s online mall, they learn the valuable skills they need in order to work with the global behemoths such as Amazon and Alibaba. Second, KITA is addressing Korea’s changing demography through a mentoring program that pairs retired leaders with future leaders. Additionally, they’ve established a trade academy to help prepare younger employees to trade globally. Lastly, they’ve created a start up hub where they hold events to showcase innovation. The start up hub venue, housed on KITA’s campus, resembles a coworking venue and demonstrates the type of innovation that KITA is hoping to foster at the gatherings that meet in the space. The hub helps incubate ideas for start ups to connect to each other and to more established companies to spur creative and innovative thinking for all participants.

By modeling innovation and providing hands on experiential learning for their member companies, KITA is demonstrating the power associations have to strengthen their economies and to help both individuals and organizations grow and thrive. Similarly, by pairing aging leaders with future leaders, they are not just helping tomorrow’s workforce, but tapping elders in a way that honors their contributions—demonstrating a unique way that associations can positively impact lives. Both approaches exemplify the global Power of A.