SME Featured Southeast Asia

Grab Indonesia, Asparindo launch programme to help accelerate digitalisation of MSMEs

Surakarta, Indonesia – Superapp Grab in Indonesia and the Indonesian Market Management Association (Asparindo) have confirmed a strategic partnership, in an aim to digitise traditional markets through the Pasar programme, an extension of GrabMart that brings local markets’ freshest produce, poultry, meat, and seafood to households.

Aside from Surakarta, the digitalisation program will also continue to traditional markets in and other cities such as Jakarta, Surabaya, Bogor, Bali, Palembang and Medan, targeting around 4,600 traditional market MSME players by the end of 2022.

The collaboration includes a number of initiatives like the ‘Digital Market Activation’, where MSME partners under Asparindo have the opportunity to join the Grab digital ecosystem as Grab merchants and take advantage of digital payment methods using OVO. It also includes ‘Training for MSMEs’, where Grab will be providing digital training programmes, webinars, and education for MSME players in order to improve digital market literacy and help empower digital businesses to increase the value of market competitiveness. 

Additionally, another initiative is ‘Event participation’, where Grab and Asparindo will be presenting various kinds of events held both offline and online.

Gibran Rakabuming Raka, mayor of Surakarta, said, “This collaboration is certainly in line with the mission that is being carried out by the Surakarta City Government in realizing the smart city program. I hope this program can provide education to business people that digitalization in every market is currently very necessary in order to encourage regional economic growth and create skilled and highly competitive resources.”

Meanwhile, Neneng Goenadi, country managing director of Grab Indonesia, conveyed the platform’s commitment to supporting the digitisation of market traders and MSME players in Indonesia. 

“We believe in the potential and superior competitiveness of Indonesian MSMEs. Therefore, we are excited to present the GrabMart Pasar program to facilitate market traders and MSMEs in adopting technology and entering the digital economy ecosystem. We hope that Grab’s support can help Indonesian MSMEs contribute to sustainable regional and national economic growth,” said Goenadi. 

Joko Setiyanto, chairman of the Indonesian Market Management Association (Asparindo), shared that the current pandemic has also encouraged a change in trends for people to shop and do business digitally, and the traditional market is one of the places of business for SMEs that must be maintained and its existence regulated. 

“Therefore, digital adoption is needed for traditional markets in order to adapt and improve services to meet the needs of the community. Through this collaboration with Grab Indonesia, it is hoped that it will accelerate the pace of digitalisation of traditional markets so that they can continue to exist and develop into modern traditional markets that are solid and globally competitive,” said Setiyanto.

SME Featured APAC

Proxtera launches digital financial literacy programme for MSMEs

Singapore – B2B marketplace Proxtera together with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has launched an open financial education and action programme for MSMEs in Asia and Africa, which will be called, the ‘SME Financial Empowerment (SFE)’ programme.

The programme is a digital portal operated by Proxtera that aims to help MSMEs build foundational digital financial literacy skills, and gain a good understanding of cross-border financial services relevant to MSMEs, to help them thrive in the post-pandemic digital economy. It was rolled out last 14 June 2022 with market partners in Asia and Africa, starting with Ghana, India, the Philippines, and Singapore, and will benefit more than 400,000 MSMEs across both regions.

In addition, the SFE programme will be covering three key areas as a focus for 2022, namely Essential Financial Digital Skillset, MSME Financial Services, and Digital Economy Access & Growth. It will also be providing two certification courses that were developed in collaboration with UNDP, IFC, MAS, Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and the Global FinTech Institute (GFI), namely Foundational Financial Literacy and Global Financial Literacy.

Saurav Bhattacharyya, Proxtera’s CEO, commented that they are proud to be the exclusive lead partner of the programme, and running the programme office that ideates, manages, and implements the rollout. 

“The SFE programme stays true to our mission of supporting MSMEs, by upskilling them to understand financial services and how best to tap into the digital marketplace effectively and globally. SFE provides that first step for individuals to embark on a journey of digital transformation, where their understanding and digital competencies mature over time, and they become part of an integrated ecosystem that allows them to truly trade business-sans-borders,” said Bhattacharyya.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

ICSB PH, UnionBank partner to hold three-day conference and expo for MSMEs

Manila, Philippines — The International Council for Small Business Philippines (ICSB PH) and Union Bank of the Philippines have joined hands to launch a three-day conference and expo for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) for free this coming June 27 to 30. The event is entitled ‘MSME Fiesta Sulong Negosyante’ and will be held at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.

The expo is part of ICSB and UnionBank’s celebrations for the United Nations’ International MSME Day, which is observed annually every June 27th to raise awareness of the contributions of MSMEs to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

During the three-day event, a number of activities will be held with the goal of helping MSMEs in every aspect of their business. There will be mentoring and coaching to be led by industry experts; opportunities to secure funding from some of the leading financing companies in the country; and learning sessions focused on a wide selection of topics namely access to loans, eCommerce platforms, payment gateways, and digital creatives, among other.

Eric Caeg, founder of ICSB, said, “What’s in it for the MSMEs? We could say we can do these things online, but then again, it’s better for them to see new partners face-to-face and learn new ideas from experts.”

Simultaneously, Jaypee Soliman, UnionBank’s SME and Micropreneurs segment head, shared, “Left and right, so many webinars for MSMEs are happening simultaneously every weekend. I think it’s time that we go beyond that.”

Soliman adds, “What we want to do is to move forward, which is why the name of the event is Sulong! Negosyante. Now, we won’t just be doing talks, but this time we’ll be doubling down on enabling our MSMEs through the activities that we’ve prepared for everyone.”

The event holds tons of surprises for those keen to attend. To make travel to the event site easier, Grab Philippines will be offering a voucher for its users, where they can enjoy a discount on their fare. Those travelling to the event via their own vehicles will also get the chance to take home gas vouchers.

To learn more about the MSME Fiesta Sulong Negosyante, interested individuals can visit Unionbank’s dedicated website registration page for the event.

Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

SM Supermalls to mount pop-ups to spotlight Filipino MSMEs amid upcoming PH Independence Day

Manila, Philippines — To celebrate the Philippines’ Independence Day, SM Supermalls will be holding major events to commemorate this national holiday and encourage Pinoys to further embrace Filipino culture. Among these are the championing of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) that represent the nation’s cultural diversity and heritage, featuring of delicious Filipino cuisine, and the customary raising of the Flag ceremony to honour the Philippine Independence Day on the morning of June 12, 2022.

As a champion of local MSMEs, SM Supermalls will spoil you with Filipino cuisine options and other local products from June 1-12. Savour the diverse and rich Filipino food offerings and have a taste of different Pinoy dishes and treats from every region of the country.

Support local businesses, and buy fresh local produce and other speciality items from SM’s affiliates and tenants through the Buy Pinoy pop-up stores. Shop the best locally-made clothes, souvenirs, décor, and food brought to you by Filipino businesses from June 1 to June 12, 2022.

Steven T. Tan, president of SM Supermalls, said, “SM Supermalls has always celebrated Pinoy pride through various events where we get to appreciate our culture and express our gratitude to the heroes of past and present.”

Tan adds, “The Philippine Independence Day should never be taken for granted because holding our national pride and heritage in high regard is what makes us true-blooded Filipinos through and through. We encourage everyone to join us as we celebrate freedom at SM Supermalls.”

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Filipino small businesses bullish about growth in 2022

Manila, Philippines – Amidst a strong recovery from COVID-19 in 2021, small businesses in the Philippines are bullish about their growth for this year, new data from CPA Australia shows.

According to the data, 65% of respondents reported growing and 41% increased employee numbers. This can be attributed to the fact that there has been evident strong customer satisfaction and business strategy. Over the past three years, respondents nominated customer loyalty and improved customer satisfaction as the top factors positively influencing their businesses.

Leslie Leow, general manager for emerging markets at CPA Australia said, “To stand out from competitors and win more customers, it’s pivotal for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt a customer-oriented strategy. This will assist them to provide the products or services customers’ demand.”

He added, “Filipino small business owners are typically young, vibrant and skilful at using digital technologies in their business and to engage with customers and potential customers.”

The data also noted that 91% expect to grow, far outstripping the survey average of 62%. Around 45% stated they will introduce a new product, service or process to the market in 2022, while 62% expect to hire more employees. Both results are the second highest among all surveyed markets. In addition, 62% of respondents expect revenue from overseas markets to grow, outperforming the region.

“The Philippines are investing resources in revitalising industries hard-hit by COVID-19, such as tourism and hospitality. With border restrictions set to relax this year, foreign tourists and opportunities from overseas markets should spur MSMEs’ confidence and expansion prospects,” Leow added.

Aside from the pandemic, increasing costs remains the biggest barrier to Filipino small businesses. Materials costs (42%) and utility costs (39%) were the costs that caused the most detriment.

In terms of financing, 66% of respondents sought external funds last year while 80% expect that they will require additional funds this year. Covering increasing expenses was one of the major reasons for seeking finance. Financing conditions improved significantly for Filipino businesses in 2021. About 38% of respondents found access to finance ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’, up from 13% in 2020. However, this result is still below the survey average of 46%.

Leow further explained, “Easier access to finance is most likely due to the strong shift by local businesses to family or friends as their main source of finance, which was up from 21% in 2020 to 45% in 2021. The survey shows that family and friends are typically the easiest source for finance to access. While the Department of Trade and Industry Philippines released a total of PHP5.9b this year to MSMEs, funding roadblocks are still hindering local MSME’s growth.”

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Indonesia, Singapore reaffirm commitment to digitising MSMEs

Singapore – Indonesia and Singapore have recently reaffirmed their commitment to discuss collaborations on data governance, digital talent and the digital transformation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in their respective countries.

Held during the 8th Information and Communications Joint Committee (ICJC) Meeting on Digital Cooperation last April 7. Present during the meeting were Joseph Leong, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) of Singapore; and Mira Tayyiba, secretary general of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics (KOMINFO) of Indonesia.

During the joint meeting, they discussed digital transformation efforts in their respective countries, and explored areas where bilateral digital cooperation could advance mutual interests, including initiatives to support the digitalisation of businesses and start-ups.

Leong said, “The ICJC Meeting is an important platform for the bilateral cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia. Digital transformation is increasingly important in helping our people and businesses seize new opportunities and markets. The ICJC has given us the opportunity to foster a closer working relationship in bilateral digital cooperation, which will benefit our people and businesses, and accelerate our post-pandemic recovery.”

Meanwhile, Tayyiba commented, “I hope we can share the same vision in ICJC while continuing initiatives and cooperation between our neighbouring countries. It is important to nurture our digital future by focusing our effort on human centric approach by providing equal and accessible connectivity, ensuring the security and protection of data, equipping the society with the necessary skills in this era of digital transformation, and creating a fair playing field for all actors within the digital ecosystem.”

She added, “The ICJC meeting can be utilised not only as a means to share information and best practices, but also to initiate new cooperation and other initiatives that can benefit both countries.”

SME Featured APAC

foodpanda’s latest social impact report focuses on digitalisation support for MSMEs

Singapore – Regional delivery platform foodpanda has recently published its latest social impact report, focusing on the initiatives for supporting communities, helping MSMEs digitise, train and upskill delivery riders across the region during the continued pandemic in 2021.

The company has dedicated US$29m to support MSMEs across the region, like wet market vendors in Thailand and Taiwan, local mom-and pop shops in Malaysia and the Philippines and hawkers in Singapore. This comprises new digital tools to help merchants expand revenue streams and connect with new customers online, as well as fee waivers and other relief initiatives. 

In addition, an additional US$6m was invested in providing riders’ welfare and benefits, such as safety training, insurance and financial support for the purchase of bicycles or motorbikes. Foodpanda also spent more than half a million US dollars to support local governments and communities in the fight against COVID-19, with the distribution of food, essentials and medical supplies to healthcare workers and people in need. 

Jakob Sebastian Angele, chief executive officer at foodpanda, said, “Since foodpanda was founded in 2012, we have been driven by our value to ‘get 1% better every day’, rolling out technical features that make millions of lives better. Technology has been an especially powerful tool to help sustain livelihoods, preserve business legacies, tackle environmental challenges, and build an inclusive platform for our community of merchants, riders, and customers to thrive.”

Foodpanda has also dedicated an additional US$91,000, invested to upskill riders in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, in language, personal growth and marketing programmes for future career readiness. In Singapore, foodpanda dedicated 19,500 hours mentoring mid-career professionals as they transition to data and software engineers through the GoSchool and #GetReadySG programmes. Foodpanda also invested US$70,000 on mental wellness, including providing subscriptions to mental wellness apps for employees and riders.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Funding Societies launches virtual card solution for MSMEs in SG

Singapore – SME digital financing platform Funding Societies has announced the launch of ‘Virtual Card Elevate’, a virtual card solution for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Singapore. Said virtual card is available on a credit line on the platform’s website and mobile app, and entitles qualified MSMEs to interest-free credit for a period of up to 55 days.

This launch comes on the back of Funding Societies’ recent US$294m Series C+ fundraise, some of which it has channelled to such new strategic products, solidifying its position as a one-stop shop for the region’s MSME banking needs.

The card is enabled by banking-as-a-service provider, MatchMove, and developed in partnership with Mastercard. It offers small businesses rapid access to credit limits, where approvals of applications are given within one business day. Business owners can easily apply for the card and credit line via Funding Societies’ website using Myinfo Business, and thereafter begin tracking and managing all expenditure within the platform’s dedicated mobile app.

Shrawan Saraogi, group head of strategy for new business at Funding Societies, said, “In an environment where traditional providers issue corporate lines to only large businesses with a strong credit track record, or offer debit cards with deposit accounts, Funding Societies’ Elevate serves an urgent and important need of micro and small businesses in Singapore who need flexible credit to pay for their expenses. When business owners do not take on personal liability on their own credit cards, their business becomes more sustainable.”

Since this financing solution launched in January, Funding Societies has approved over S$1m in credit limits to small businesses across the nation. Within two months, almost one quarter of that limit has been used by its clients for company purchases and supplier payments. Elevate serves enterprises across all verticals, including the F&B, retail, e-commerce, logistics, and technology sectors.

The card also entails Mastercard privileges such as a ‘Corporate Liability Waiver’ feature that protects MSMEs against unauthorised charges being made to their business card accounts. This is in line with Funding Societies’ expansion into financial offerings for MSMEs beyond lending, like expense management.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

majoo, Saas startup for MSMEs, raises US$5m to boost product dev’t

Indonesia – Indonesia-based SaaS business solution platform, majoo, has raised a pre-Series A funding of US$5m, which brings its total raised to US$9m. This funding round was led by AC Ventures and Quona Capital, as well as the participation of BRI Ventures and Xendit.

With its new funding, majoo will be boosting its product development including the instant online store and marketplace integration. majoo enables MSMEs to sell through multiple online channels with a single dashboard. The company said that with the new funding, It will also be enhancing market penetration and hiring in multiple positions to support its growth, product, and engineering team.

Adi Wahyu Rahadi, majoo’s founder and CEO, shared that its mission is to evolve Indonesia’s MSMEs by providing end-to-end solutions for Indonesian MSMEs to manage and grow their business to accelerate the growth of Indonesia’s digital economy.

“With the mission to empower MSMEs in Indonesia, majoo will continue to add more features to its platform to further support MSMEs to grow their business. majoo also aspires to expand its team to reach more than 100 cities in Indonesia. With the support of well-connected funds such as AC Ventures and Quona Capital, majoo believes the partnership will be a major inception point for its accelerating role in Indonesia’s MSMEs digitization,” said Rahadi.

Meanwhile, Adrian Li, AC Ventures’ founder and managing partner, said, “As majoo continues to enable the digital potential of the 63 million MSMEs in Indonesia, it has proven its ability to expand the services that it brings to its clients. We at AC Ventures (ACV) are proud to double down in supporting their journey of empowering small business owners across the country.”

Dan Bertoli, Quona Capital’s partner, commented, “It’s a privilege to co-lead this round with ACV and work with the distinctive majoo team, and we are confident that majoo’s approach of building products in-house and providing a comprehensive solution to clients has the right set up to win in this market.”

According to the company, as of date, it has processed over 100 million transactions worth US$600m for MSMEs in more than 600 cities in Indonesia across a diverse range of businesses from F&B to laundromats and convenience stores.

SME Featured Southeast Asia

Funding Societies raises US$294m, eyes further expansion in SEA

Singapore – Funding Societies, SME digital financing platform in SEA, which goes by Modalku in Indonesia, has raised US$144m in an oversubscribed Series C+ equity round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2; with new investors, notably Vietnamese tech giant VNG Corporation, Rapyd Ventures, Asia-based global investor EDBI, Indies Capital, K3 Ventures, and Ascend Vietnam Ventures. 

The company has also received US$150m in debt lines from institutional lenders across Europe, the United States, and Asia, some of which have been drawn down since 2021. This comes on the back of its US$45 million Series C raised between 2020 and 2021.

The company believes that the funds solidify Funding Societies’ position as a market leader in digital financing, and propels its expense management, and B2B payments services for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across Southeast Asia. 

Since 2019, Funding Societies has expanded its suite of financial services beyond lending and plans to bring its operations to more locations in Southeast Asia within the next 12 months.

In October, the company has also announced that it has raised US$18m in debt for funding led by a trio syndicate of financial institutions, including lending company Helicap Investments.

Funding Societies aims to solve MSMEs’ key pain points for growth, such as the challenge in obtaining business loans from traditional financial institutions due to a lack of a credit track record or collaterals to pledge. Funding Societies offers microloans from US$500 up to US$1.5m which can be disbursed within 24 hours. 

Co-founder and Group CEO, Kelvin Teo, shared that a common misconception is that the company competes with banks. 

“The reality is we ‘compete’ with savings, friends and families, and personal credit cards. There is a huge unsecured financing gap because it takes patience and focus, or you risk losing a lot of money. Having proven our AI-led credit capabilities in an unprecedented financial crisis, we look to serve SMEs even better with neo banking and deeper regional presence in Southeast Asia,” said Teo.

According to the company, it has disbursed, to date, over US$2b in business financing to MSMEs in the SEA region. 

The fintech is now licensed and registered in four countries across the region – Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and operating in Vietnam.