The Jakarta Post
The government is joining hands with e-commerce players and tech firms to provide training for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to boost digital inclusion among small businesses and to improve their skills amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The Communications and Information Ministry announced on Monday a partnership with the Indonesian E-commerce Association (IdEA) to roll out online classes for 2,500 SMEs from Oct. 5 to Dec. 12.
Communications and Information Minister Johnny G. Plate said the program was aimed at SMEs outside of Java, particularly those in the outermost, frontier and the least developed (3T) regions and those located in the country’s five priority tourism destinations, including Borobudur in Central Java, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, and Lake Toba in North Sumatra.
“We’ve seen that the successful cases of SME digitalization mostly occur on Java island. So, we want the same success for SMEs all around the nation,” he said at the program launch. “We also want to see those already on the digital platforms upscaling their businesses.”
He went on to say that around 9.4 million SMEs had gone online to date, closing in on the government’s target of having 10 million SMEs going digital by the end of the year.
Indonesia’s economy relies heavily on small businesses, which account for more than 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employ a majority of the labor force. The small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, as the economy shrank by 5.32 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter of this year.
A Mandiri Institute study shows that digitalized micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) can help Indonesia significantly reduce the GDP impact of the pandemic.
The study also found that MSMEs that have an online presence are more resilient, as they are more likely to continue producing and selling goods and to have a longer runway to survive the health crisis.
IdEA chairman Bima Laga said that participants could join 60 classes such as digital branding, soft skill development and business financing.
“After the training, we would like to also track their sales to see if there is any increase,” he said. “We hope that the participants can have greater digital literacy and improve their livelihood.”
The Communications and Information Ministry accessibility agency director, Anang Latif, said that the program would take in 6,500 applicants for the first phase. If the current participants’ businesses showed an improvement, the second batch would be in the pipeline for next year, he added.
“Going digital is inevitable. We want SMEs to know how to utilize online platforms to prepare themselves for the 5G era when the internet connection will serve them better,” he said.
Earlier last week, the Trade Ministry also announced its partnership with social media giant Facebook to open online classes and a shopping festival for SMEs between October this year and January 2021.
“Through the collaboration, the local SMEs are expected to attain new skills and knowledge to survive, grow and expand their markets through online platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp,” Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto said in a statement on Oct. 3.
During the event, the ministry and Facebook will hold online classes on how to utilize Facebook and Instagram for businesses, as well as an online bazaar via Instagram, among other events.
“We acknowledge that adopting digital platforms is not easy as there are still many groups of people that have not been able to maximize digital services usage. That is why we’ve launched this program to help accelerate the SMEs’ digital transformation,” Facebook Indonesia public policy head Ruben Hattari said.