Selling in a foreign country is one of the biggest challenges for small and medium businesses (SMEs) in Malaysia.
As more and more consumers in ASEAN shop across borders, SMEs must take advantage of e-commerce to grow their businesses beyond the country.
Thus, to address the digital skills gap amongst SMEs in Malaysia, the world’s largest social media company and platform will be working with an e-commerce platform under the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) to provide SMEs in the country with training and resources to grow their businesses internationally, according to a recent report.
Named “Made by Malaysia, Loved by the World”, the programme aims to facilitate business exports for at least 2,000 businesses in the country.
According to numbers from the social media giant, 87 million people globally are connected to a small business in Malaysia. However, only one in 10 SMEs is exporting goods overseas.
On a related note, two-thirds of the users of the social media platform said that they have shopped with retailers in other countries.
In order to remain relevant as an exporting nation, Malaysia needs to embrace the digital trade revolution, according to the CEO of Matrade who added that e-commerce has the potential to improve productivity over traditional companies that focus only on brick and mortar businesses. Malaysia SMEs that do not have the right capabilities to compete in the digital world could stand to lose out in the future.
Under the partnership, SMEs can learn skills in market research, digital marketing, and building their e-commerce presence via training programmes on the two platforms.
The Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) stated that businesses need a cost-effective and uncomplicated way to market themselves. Online tools play an important role in facilitating international trade.
He added that 82 per cent of exporting SMEs in Malaysia said at least half of their exports depend on the usage of online tools. In addition, 65 per cent of exporters using online tools for selling internationally have increased their revenue.
Social media and online tools really help us market to the world. Before that, you’d have to open an outlet and spend a lot of money upfront, according to the Managing Director of Fizo Omar Consultancy who attended the press conference.
In today’s world, you can sit and home, or even just do it part-time and you can still have the opportunity to penetrate the global market.
One of the early participants of the Made by Malaysia programme was also on hand to share her journey.
The participant, the Founder of a local beauty brand, stated that she’d been running her business for several years, and had never had a store. Now she is selling across Malaysia, as well as Arabic countries, China, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia – all from her office.
Malaysia is the third in the world to implement this program, after Taiwan and South Korea. The government hopes that the initiative will help increase the contribution of SMEs to the GDP to 41 per cent and increase SME exports to 23 per cent by 2020.
This in line with the country’s Smart City Initiatives which aims to design and implement policies that will strengthen urban functions as the catalyst in enhancing the capability and competitiveness of its rural areas in the national economic development, focusing on SMEs in the country.
According to the National Urbanization Policy (NUP), smart city initiatives will be realised through three main principles:
- Generating a competitive urban economy;
- Strengthening digital application by improving the readiness of its urban services through digital applications;
- Encouraging digital application through information dissemination and hands-on
Principles that the social media giant can help to realise by assisting Malaysia’s SMEs.