The Indonesian government has teamed up with e-commerce platform Lazada Indonesia to advance its partnerships with digital platforms to meet its target of pushing 2 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to go digital this year. The Cooperatives and SME Ministry and Lazada Indonesia today launched a training program to help SMEs with digital marketing and with setting up stores on the e-commerce platform.

Lazada Indonesia, backed by Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, will begin by recruiting 100 tutors, called kakak asuh, from successful sellers on its platform. Each tutor will oversee two to three small businesses. Monika Rudijono, the chief marketing officer at Lazada Indonesia, said some small businesses had enough digital savvy to make it on their own after completing just one training course. “But there are [other] small businesses that are more traditional,” Monika said in a virtual press briefing on Monday. “Even though they have done a training course, they still need a tutor.”

The government is pursuing partnerships with numerous private tech firms to accelerate the digitization of SMEs. One of the latest initiatives is a project with online ride-hailing company Grab Indonesia on an app for business management. Out of more than 60 million small businesses across the country, which employ an overwhelming majority of the national workforce, only 13 percent have established an online presence and use the internet to sell their products, according to data from the ministry. Other partnerships established by the government are with e-commerce companies, Shopee Indonesia, Tokopedia and Bukalapak – the last two are among the country’s so-called unicorns, or start-up firms valued at more than US$1 billion.

Arif Rahman Hakim, a deputy of human resource development at the ministry, said Monday that the government was partnering with the companies to integrate training programs with the platform, thereby simplifying the steps for small businesses to go online. The program was especially important for small businesses to keep making money amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which was slowing down the economy as people had reduced spending to offset loss of income, said Arif. “It is very timely for small businesses to be able to market their product by using information technology,” Arif said at the same briefing.

Leonard Theosabrata, the president director of Smesco Indonesia, a marketing agency founded by the ministry, said he hoped the program would run for a long time, because the government was aiming high with regard to SME digitization. “We hope they arrange it not only via digital means,” Leonard said at the same briefing. “They have to receive training from the tutors on quality control and quality assurance. This may have to take place in person.”

Jakarta Post


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