The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitization of economies across Southeast Asia, but also further compounded the digital divide for small businesses. Lack of business management know-how, financial management knowledge, digital skills, innovation, and distribution left micro-enterprises unable to compete as the markets in which they trade became more digitized than ever before, almost overnight. Consumer purchasing behavior shifted online, and millions of small businesses that did not manage to go digital were left behind—a trend that is continuing.
By contrast, online businesses in the region were more likely to survive the pandemic, and their profits rebounded more quickly. Firms that made early investments in digital—including using or increasing their use of the internet, social media, specialized apps, or digital platforms—recovered more quickly. This points to the incredible potential of digitization to enable small businesses to build resilience.
As digital transformation has accelerated, so too has platformization. Digital platforms in sectors such as ride-hailing and e-commerce, which are thriving in Southeast Asia, now play an increasingly pivotal role in small businesses’ success.
In acknowledgement of these trends, Strive Community has partnered with Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading superapp, on ‘Small Business, Big Dreams’. The program will digitally upskill gig economy workers and small businesses in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam to unlock the potential of going digital.
The two new online courses - the Entrepreneurship Tool Kit and the Small Business Tool Kit - consist of micro-learning videos that provide practical tips to address major knowledge gaps which were uncovered through surveys with over 34,000 Grab driver and delivery partners and 600 small businesses in the region. The content is in local languages and leans heavily on the power of peer small businesses sharing their experiences and tips. Topics include: digital bookkeeping, cash flow management, and budgeting; setting prices and making a profit; online sales and promotion; digital marketing; customer service; and pivoting and diversifying. These self-serve videos are complemented by live webinars and are available free of charge to all Grab Partners on GrabAcademy, via the Grab Driver and Merchant superapps . Driver-partners will receive certificates of completion when they finish each module.
The videos were created by Strive Community’s consortium of implementation partners who have deep expertise in small business support in their respective countries. Partners worked closely together to identify common barriers across markets, develop training to address these challenges, and fully localize content so that it resonates deeply with business owners in each country.
Implementation partners for this program are:
Tumbu Accelerator is a small business learning and development organization established by the founders and chief editor of ukmindonesia.id, the first online information hub for micro-enterprises in Indonesia. Tumbu conducts research, designs and implements small business education and capacity-building programs, and provides mentoring and incubator programs to help entrepreneurs improve their business performance and grow their businesses. Ukmindonesia.id provides comprehensive information and knowledge to help small businesses thrive and grow. It has served more than 3.5 million unique business owners since 2017.
The Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) is an award-winning organization supporting women-led startups and businesses in Vietnam. WISE offers all-around business development support for women-led small businesses, including capacity building, business incubation and acceleration, mentoring, access to finance, community building, research, and policy advocacy. WISE stands out in the ecosystem for its strength in designing and delivering innovative programs by leveraging its deep understanding of and connections with micro- and small businesses.
Bayan Academy for Social Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Development is a social development organization in the Philippines. It offers entrepreneurship, management, and education training programs and services, as well as livelihood and skills training courses for development institutions, cooperatives, banks, educational institutions, and micro- and small enterprises.
The scale partner for this program is:
Grab is Southeast Asia’s leading superapp based on GMV in 2021 in each of food deliveries, mobility and the e-wallets segment of financial services, according to Euromonitor. Grab operates across the deliveries, mobility and digital financial services sectors in over 480 cities in eight countries in the Southeast Asia region – Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Grab enables millions of people each day to access its driver- and merchant-partners to order food or groceries, send packages, hail a ride or taxi, pay for online purchases or access services such as lending, insurance, wealth management and telemedicine, all through a single “everyday everything” app. Grab was founded in 2012 with the mission to drive Southeast Asia forward by creating economic empowerment for everyone, and since then, the Grab app has been downloaded onto millions of mobile devices. Grab strives to serve a triple bottom line: to simultaneously deliver financial performance for its shareholders and have a positive social and environmental impact in Southeast Asia.