RM13m grant to train the underserved on digitalisation

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Asia Foundation and the Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) have partnered to train up to 200,000 rural people on digitalisation.

The training, which aims to close the digital gap in Asean, is being supported via a US$3.3 million (RM13.3 million) grant from Google.org.

The training will be done by International Youth Centre and Startup Malaysia for unemployed youths and small-entrepreneurs on digital literacy.

Participants will learn about creating online profiles on network platforms, conducting online business through social media and improving employability.

Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC) Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (picture) said the collaboration contributes to the capacity building of Asean MSMEs in digitalisation.

“This will also help realise the region’s digital integration as aspired by the Asean Digital Integration Framework,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The Asia Foundation president David D Arnold said they 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.

Meanwhile, Google Malaysia MD Marc Woo said 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 am extremely proud that we can support The Asia Foundation and ACCMSME, who both share our passion to help local businesses succeed, grow and create an opportunity for local economies,” he said.

In line with Asean’s expanding digital economy, the government is also heavily promoting digitalisation as one of the measures to ensure business sustainability and continuity, especially in facing the Covid-19 pandemic, with the support of MSMEs.

According to the results of a post-Covid-19 survey undertaken by MEDAC in August last year, more needs to be done by businesses in terms of digitalisation 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 Nov 23, 2020, also reported that only an average of 42% of MSMEs is ready for digitalisation.

The successful partnership between the public and private sectors 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.