Go Digital Asean initiative to train 15,000 youth, micro entrepreneurs in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Go Digital Asean programme, which focuses on closing the digital gap across the region, has reached Malaysian shores and is set to provide training for up to 15,000 underemployed youths and micro entrepreneurs nationwide.

In a statement today, the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (Medac) said the programme, launched by its minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, would help address the economic impact of Covid-19.

The Asia Foundation — supported with a $3.3 million grant from Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org — is collaborating 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.

In Malaysia, the selected implementing partners, International Youth Centre 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, half of whom are females.

The ministry said the training would 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.

“The collaboration between the ACCMSME and The Asia Foundation, with the support of Google.org, contributes to the capacity building of Asean micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in digitalisation and will help realise the region’s digital integration as aspired by the Asean Digital Integration Framework,” Wan Junaidi said.

Meanwhile, The Asia Foundation president David D. Arnold said the initiative was the first-of-its-kind collaboration, pooling expertise and approaches from government, business, and non-governmental organisation sectors to help bridge the digital gap.

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

However, it said the government could not do this alone and would 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.

Of the 2,118 business respondents, 45.76 per cent had adopted e-commerce while only 19.02 per cent had adopted technology and digitalisation.

Furthermore, the Maxis Digital Readiness Index Survey dated Nov 23, 2020, also reported that only an average of 42 per cent 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,” it noted. – Bernama