Jakarta: The ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) and The Asia Foundation released the Go Digital ASEAN Impact Summary Report on Monday to mark this year’s international Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day (MSME) Day.
"Implemented in ten ASEAN Member States in 2021-2022, the US$ 3.3M “Go Digital ASEAN” public-private partnership initiative exceeded its target, with 225,778 individuals equipped with digital skills across the region – 60% of them women," the ASEAN Secretariat said in a media release on Monday.
The impact report further reveals micro and small businesses, as well as job seekers’ perceptions of the training programmes’ value in providing access to digital skills and tools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched in the early days of the pandemic, Go Digital ASEAN ran from July 2020 to December 2021. It was spearheaded by international development nonprofit, The Asia Foundation, implemented in partnership with the ACCMSME, and supported by Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm.
The project was designed to broaden digital participation to more than 200,000 people from rural regions and underserved communities—including women-led small- and micro-businesses, underemployed youth, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities— in the ten ASEAN Member States, to create a more inclusive ASEAN region.
The impact report surveyed 3,372 participants across the region five months after attending an online or in-person Go Digital ASEAN training. Of the MSMEs surveyed, 81% saw an increase in their customer engagement; 77% moved their business online; and 25% kept their business running as a result of the training.
Of the job seekers surveyed, 58% acquired employment in two months or less; and 28% acquired employment (full-time, part-time, apprenticeship, freelancing/gig work) as a result of the training. Country-level summaries are also available in the impact report.
The in-country curricula delivered content and digital skill trainings through a network of local partners. In Viet Nam, together with local partner Tinh Thuong Microfinance Institution, the Go Digital ASEAN team trained 81,560 MSME owners and underemployed youth in the northern and north-central regions on digital skills such as online job search, basic social media marketing, and online safety.
In Thailand, indigenous entrepreneurs like Lakela gained the digital skills and confidence to market her new products online.
The project, recognised as a key initiative to ASEAN’s economic recovery, as captured in the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, reached a total of 183,096 MSME owners; 42,682 job seekers; 140,276 women, and 145,407 youth (18-35); 1,983 trainees with disabilities; and 19,064 indigenous trainees.
"Building on the pilot of Go Digital ASEAN, the tripartite partnership between the ACCMSME and The Asia Foundation with support from Google.org will continue into Phase 2, targeting a wider group of beneficiaries beyond the micro-enterprises," it stated.
"The next phase of the programme aims to equip another 200,000 MSMEs across the region with relevant skills to grow their businesses, such as financial literacy, green skills, and cybersecurity skills," it concluded.