The ASEAN Coordi- nating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and the Asia Foundation has formally announced the Go Digital ASEAN initiative.
Supported by a $3.3 million grant from Google.org, the initiative is designed to equip 200,000 people – of which 60 percent will be women and 40 percent men – with crucial digital skills and tools to expand their economic opportunities across Asean member states and minimise the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A joint statement issued in Indonesia yesterday said this is ACCMSME’s first private-public initiative and a unique effort to partner with civil society and the corporate sectors on this scale.
Digital integration can bridge the digital divide to create a more inclusive Asean region. People can read the statement and fact sheet on ASEAN.org.
Asia Foundation president David Arnold said the foundation is pleased to activate this first-of-its-kind collaboration – pooling expertise and approaches from government, business, and nongovernmental 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.
Digital training will be customised to local needs, conditions and contexts,” he said.
COVID-19 is a significant threat to Asean’s small and micro-entrepreneurs, accounting for 99 percent of businesses and 80 percent of the workforce. Although lockdowns have eased in many cities, social distancing is pushing more businesses online.
In Cambodia, the selected implementing partners, development innovations, inSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia and STAR kampuchea, will utilise part of the funding to develop digital literacy training modules for 15,000 MSMEs owners across the Phnom Penh municipality and Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Siem Reap, and Battambang provinces.
The goal is to train small business owners on important digital skills such as effective marketing on social media, registering businesses on Google Maps and online safety.