KUALA LUMPUR: The Asia Foundation — supported with a USD$3.3 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org — will collaborate with The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) to train up to 200,000 people from rural regions and underserved communities. The programme focuses on closing the digital gap across ASEAN, in support of the vision set out by the ACCMSME’s Action Agenda on Digitalisation of ASEAN Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through Capacity Building.
In Malaysia, the selected implementing partners, International Youth Center and Startup Malaysia will utilise part of the funding to develop digital literacy training modules with a goal of supporting 15,000 unemployed youths and micro-entrepreneurs, with 50% of them females. The training will focus on skills such as creating online profiles on professional network platforms, conducting business online through social media, and maximising job portals to improve employability.
YB Dato Sri Dr Haji Wan Junaidi bin Tuanku Jaafar, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Malaysia who launched the programme in Malaysia said, “The collaboration between the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (ACCMSME) and The Asia Foundation, with the support of Google.org, contributes to the capacity building of ASEAN MSMEs in digitalisation and will help realise the region’s digital integration as aspired by the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework (DIF).”
David D. Arnold, President of The Asia Foundation said, “We are pleased to activate this first-of-its-kind collaboration—pooling expertise and approaches from government, business, and NGO sectors—to help bridge the digital gap. In villages and secondary cities across the region, The Asia Foundation’s local country offices will lead a community network of trainers and volunteers to help integrate MSME owners and underemployed workers into the digital economy.
“Small businesses are at the heart of every country’s economy and community. The current difficult circumstances have reinforced the urgency of supporting their digitalisation. I’m extremely proud that we can support The Asia Foundation and ACCMSME, who both share our passion to help local businesses succeed, grow and create opportunity for local economies.” explains Marc Woo, Managing Director for Google Malaysia.
In line with ASEAN’s expanding digital economy, the Government of Malaysia is also heavily promoting digitalisation as one of the measures to ensure business sustainability and continuity, especially in facing the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Government cannot do this alone and will require serious buy-in and support by MSMEs. According to the results of a Post-Covid-19 survey undertaken by MEDAC in August 2020, more needs to be done by businesses in terms of digitalisation efforts for Malaysia to be part of the growing digital economy. Out of the 2,118 business respondents, 45.76% have adopted e-commerce while only 19.02% have adopted technology and digitalisation. Furthermore, the Maxis Digital Readiness Index Survey dated 23 November 2020 also reported that only an average of 42% of MSMEs are ready for digitalisation.
The successful partnership between the public and private sector in implementing this digital integration in the region will help close the digital literacy gap and could bring new opportunities and rewards for MSMEs in Malaysia and within ASEAN.
The recorded address by the Minister, as well as representatives from Google.org and The Asia Foundation, are featured on the Go Digital ASEAN Malaysia website – go-digital.my. To find out more about the programme implementation in Malaysia, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. -Bernama