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SME Featured East Asia

SME business confidence in Hong Kong returns strong in Q3 amid easing pandemic restrictions

Hong Kong – With the pandemic situation in Hong Kong now gradually easing up to open to the local and global economy, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Hong Kong are also slowly opening up, with business confidence rates seeing a steadfast growth among the local SME sector during the third quarter, new data from the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) shows.

According to their latest index alongside Standard Chartered Hong Kong, the SME Overall Index has risen for three consecutive quarters, this time by 4.4 to 46.6, hitting a three-year high since Q3 of 2018.

All five component sub-indices stipulated in the index also rose in Q3, among which the ‘Global Economy’ sub-index recorded the most significant surge again, from 43.6 to 52.8 which made an impressive leap from the low of 7.9 in the same period last year. Together with the ‘Recruitment Sentiment’ sub-index which rose to 50.9, these are the first two sub-indices to surpass the 50 neutral mark in the past two years. Eightof the 11 surveyed industries have recorded two-year highs in their industry indices. 

The sub-indices of ‘Information and Communications’, ‘Real Estate’, and ‘Social and Personal Services’ are the best performing industries, with their respective indices all over 50.

On investment sentiment in the coming quarter, most SMEs are planning to spend more on ‘Information Technology’ and ‘Product & Marketing Promotion’. While 24% of SMEs plan to increase investment in ‘Information Technology’, 20% of local SMEs would like to boost investment in ‘Product & Marketing Promotion’ – both are one-year highs. Meanwhile, 63% of SMEs surveyed expected an upcoming increase of ‘Raw Material Cost’, which is 5% higher than the previous quarter.

For Edmond Lai, chief digital officer at HKPC, the results of the index reflects the stableness of the pandemic situation in Hong Kong during the survey period, and that the SME sector is bound to its ‘steady U-shape rebound with the outlooks of ‘Global Economy’ and ‘Recruitment Sentiment’ being positive’.

He also noted that the survey showed that SMEs are ‘flexing their muscles’ to pick up their business as fast as possible by increasing investment and expanding staff size.

Meanwhile, Kelvin Lau, senior economist for Greater China for global research at Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong, commented that the latest SME Index readings confirm that Hong Kong’s business conditions have not only further improved over the past quarter, but that such positive momentum is also likely to carry over to the start of second half 2021, boding well for more economic recovery ahead. 

He also added that the are seeing confirmation as well of such recovery being broad-based, with all five component sub-indices and eight of the eleven industry sub-indices posting quarter-over-quarter increases. All this, however, is still not enough to push the overall SME Index back above the 50 neutral mark for now, meaning that SMEs are generally still operating below normal levels.

“Looking at the breakdown, the improvement in ‘Global Economy’ sub-index remains the biggest driver of positive sentiment this time, while ‘Recruitment Sentiment’ sub-index also returned above 50 for the first time in two years, boding well for Hong Kong’s unemployment rate to extend its recent nascent downtrend. That said, improving global prospects have not translated into much better confidence among manufacturers, exporters and financial services providers this time; rather, we see prior underperformers such as retailers playing further catchup – probably supported by the continued unwinding of social distancing measures since the first quarter,” Lau explained.

He added, “Our latest survey results also reflect still-high cost pressures, especially those for raw materials; that has in turn pushed prices higher for finished goods and services, confirming that some pass-through of higher costs onto buyers is indeed happening.”

In addition, the survey also explored SME perspectives and planning in response to the economic recovery in 2021. Around 7% of SMEs surveyed said their business fared better than before the pandemic, while 31% of them claimed to be close to returning to the pre-pandemic levels. The business performances of ‘Information and Communications’, ‘Real Estate’ and ‘Financing and Insurance’ industries are the most satisfactory amid the pandemic, with ‘Accommodation and Food Services’ being the most affected – 81% SMEs surveyed reported a setback in business. The most popular actions taken proactively by SMEs to achieve business rebound are ‘Product/Service Improvement’, ‘Market Promotion’, ‘Online Expansion’, ‘Productivity Enhancement’ and ‘Use of Digital Technology’.

Furthermore, the survey found that SMEs are placing high hopes on ‘Global Economic Recovery’, ‘Re-opening of Cross-Boundary Travel with the Mainland’ and ‘Relaxation of Social Distancing Measures; to fully grasp the opportunities from market recovery. Yet they also saw the constraints of a severe worldwide epidemic situation and geopolitical tensions, with 37.3% of SMEs surveyed indicating their intentions to raise prices to cope with inflation and offset cost pressure.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

OCBC Malaysia rolls out new remote digital account for SMEs nationwide

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As part of the bank’s digital banking thrust, OCBC Bank Malaysia has announced the roll out of ‘OCBC eBiz Account’, a new type of business account catered to local SMEs, of which they can apply for entirely remotely without the need to step into a branch. 

Such feature is made possible through the bank’s electronic know your customer platform (eKYC), which is supported by CTOS Data Systems Sdn Bhd (CTOS).

The OCBC eBiz Account is open only to SMEs with two or fewer directors or shareholders, which represents the bulk of OCBC Bank’s typical existing SME customers.

The bank is rolling out the online account at a national scale, following its pilot tests in the Klang Valley in February and then nationwide in April. The account, with a relatively low initial deposit of RM500, comes with complimentary business internet banking services Velocity@ocbc and access to OCBC Mobile Banking.

According to Wong Chee Seng, head of emerging business at OCBC Bank, the move is part of the bank’s overall digital roadmap to meet the growing needs of SMEs looking to digital banking solutions to further enable them while making things that are more quickly accessible as well.

“Remote account opening was previously the mainstay of consumer banking and tended to benefit only individual customers rather than businesses. The OCBC eBiz Account will benefit SMEs significantly at the very outset of their relationship with us. They can skip the queues at the branches and avoid the crowds altogether. In a matter of minutes, they will be able to complete their application for an online business banking account at their convenience and verify their identity via the OCBC SME eKYC app. Thereafter, and if the application is successful, the Bank will contact the customer to share with them their account number and login ID for business internet banking,” Seng explained.

He also added that they are expecting a good take-up from this offering and hope to see at least 6,000 new business accounts through this digital channel by the end of the year. In addition, he stated that the national rollout of the OCBC eBiz Account is timely given the complications and uncertainties surrounding movement beyond one’s home due to the ongoing pandemic.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

This marketing AI-infused platform offers MY SMEs free lifetime access to its software, academy

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, businesses around the world are forced to embrace rapid digitalization movements, which led to the majority of SMEs ceasing their operations permanently. Although some businesses have been quick with embracing all things digital, moving one’s entire business model in the same direction is an entirely different level, for a number of barriers stand in the way including cost, security implications, and an overwhelming number of available options. 

With this, Malaysia’s digital marketing platform Peasy.AI has launched a new campaign called ‘#KitaMasihBoleh’, which seeks to support local entrepreneurs and SMEs by offering free lifetime access to its software and academy, enabling businesses to create and run effective marketing campaigns to drive sales with ease.

Peasy.AI is a SaaS marketing platform that infuses AI to automate Facebook, Instagram, and Google campaign planning, management, and optimization. It provides SMEs with lead generation and management system solutions and enables scalable Online to Offline (O2O) sales.

The ‘#KitaMasihBoleh’ campaign will be providing its users two key products – Peasy Marketing and Peasy Sales. With Peasy Marketing, entrepreneurs will be able to create customer acquisition campaigns across Facebook, Google, and Instagram. Peasy’s AI function will automatically recommend the best audience segments, targeting, and bid, as well as channel breakdown for each campaign. 

Meanwhile, Peasy Sales offers a wholesome solution for the sales team to scale their selling via WhatsApp. By integrating WhatsApp with the online campaign, SMEs will be able to achieve 80% more contactable leads, and automatically match the campaign’s budget and bid with the audience’s potential value. With Peasy’s automation and chatbot handling repetitive questions, the sales team will be able to fully focus on closing deals with eligible, qualified leads. 

Additionally, the campaign also provides businesses free access to resources on the Peasy Academy, offering unlimited courses on digital marketing. Through this, SMEs will be able to upskill and learn how to carry out effective digital marketing. An approved partner under the BSN SME Digitisation Grant, applicants of the Grant will receive about RM7,000 worth of Facebook advertising, and a 1-year subscription to Peasy.AI’s full software solutions.

Peasy.AI’s CEO Benjamin Fong said that with the platform’s new campaign, Malaysian entrepreneurs can kickstart their digital transformation with a free helping hand, allowing them to increase productivity and subsequently improve their online business.

Fong further shared that they want to give SMEs the opportunity to win the digital game and to go from merely surviving to thriving amid the pandemic.

“To the newcomer, digital marketing may sound scary, capital intensive, and complex to install and operate. However, it need not be so. Our machine learning solutions will automate complex analysis and optimization, enabling businesses, no matter the size, to afford good and effective digital marketing,” said Fong.

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SME Featured APAC

This online platform aims to democratize enterprise AI for SMEs

Singapore – While enterprise organizations can invest in large data storage and data management solutions, such a level of investment is often out of reach for smaller organizations; small- and medium-sized enterprises would still need analytics and AI to generate insights and drive value for their business. 

This is what Dataiku, the global advanced enterprise AI platform, aims to solve with the launch of its platform online. Through Dataiku Online, their AI and machine learning platform is made available as an online service, providing greater access to said services for smaller and more agile organizations.

Dataiku Online has all of the key capabilities of Dataiku’s flagship product – data preparation, data visualization, and AutoML, as well as reporting, and dashboards – with a few configurations and design tweaks to match its managed usage and without the IT resources required to manage an enterprise-scale deployment. 

Dataiku Interface Flow
Dataiku Interface Flow

The online platform aims to provide everything a company needs to build powerful analytics projects. With the new service, it offers teams a jumpstart on their data journey within minutes; to connect to their data sources easily and start deploying projects in days – one that they can do so at a price point that makes sense for their current stage of growth.

“Accessibility has always been of the utmost importance at Dataiku. We developed Dataiku Online to address the needs of small and midsize businesses, in addition to startups,” said Dataiku CEO Florian Douetteau

Douetteau added that it is in their belief that companies don’t need big data to do valuable things with their data, and Dataiku Online aims to make it easier for a whole new class of companies – from lean startups to scaling SMEs – to start.

“We want to help companies that are just beginning their data and analytics journey to access the full power of our platform, where they can start by enhancing their day-to-day operations with simple data tools and then take their data even further with machine learning,” Douetteau further said. 

In line with the new online platform, Dataiku is also launching an offer specifically for startups. Seed-stage companies – those less than two years old, or with $5m or less in funding – and startups founded less than five years ago or with less than $10m in funding can be eligible for discounted pricing specific to their current stage of growth.

Within Dataiku Online are integrated tools like modern cloud data stack and data storage tools from Snowflake, Google Big Query, Amazon Redshift, among others There is even a pre-integrated version of Dataiku Online available through the Snowflake Marketplace, the platform that provides access to the data cloud, creating a solution for data warehousing, data lakes, data engineering, and data science, among others. 

Dataiku was founded in 2013 with offices in New York, Paris, and London as well as Munich, Sydney, and Singapore.

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SME Featured ANZ

This newly-registered NZ stock exchange caters specifically for SMEs

Auckland, New Zealand – In a move to cater to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country, stock exchange platform Catalist has announced that it has now acquired a license to open a public market for SMEs who are too small to be indexed by the New Zealand’s Exchange (NZX).

Previously operating under the private investment sector, Catalist’s platform is designed to raise up to NZ$20m a year from the public.

Catalist’s public market targets SME listings with an initial value of between NZ$6m and NZ$60m – considerably lower than what would be expected for a traditional stock market listing.

According to Colin Magee, CEO at Catalist , the green light to start trading with retail investors came after the Financial Markets Conduct (Catalist Public Market) Regulations 2021 were passed late last month.

Catalist has worked on the licence and legislation with the Ministry of Business and Innovation (MBIE) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) over the past two years to simplify the public listing process, creating a considerably lighter regulatory environment

“SMEs make up a majority of New Zealand businesses, so there’s a real need for those with growth potential to have better access to capital, and equally for investors to have better access to SME investments, to increase economic growth and job creation. Catalist’s public market means smaller businesses can now access public investment, with significantly lessened costs and administrative burdens – and without compromising investor protections,” Magee stated.

He also added that they are already working through the listing process with a number of businesses – and investors can sign up for an account on their website, so they can trade when there’s an auction running.

Differing from a traditional stock exchange, Catalist uses regular auctions, rather than continuous trading, allowing for fairer pricing and increased liquidity for financial products that don’t trade very frequently – often the case with smaller businesses. 

Regular auctions also allow for alternative disclosure provisions, a key difference with Catalist’s new market, where businesses only disclose information for each auction, rather than continuously.

Magee explains that traditional stock markets don’t work for SMEs because the costs, time spent on compliance, continuous disclosure obligations and focus on short-term share price get in the way of day-to-day operations and focusing on the long-term health of the business.

“In the past, we’ve seen growth markets, such as NZX’s ‘NXT’ take a traditional continuous trading approach and fail to meet the needs of SMEs. We’ve taken the learning from that and use periodic trading and disclosure instead, which has proved successful in other jurisdictions. Investors can now access well-regulated investment opportunities in SMEs, where they can be confident in the standard of information they receive,” Magee added.

The platform will act as a stepping stone for these registered SMEs to slowly transition into the traditional stock exchange, such as the NZX.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Report shows SG consumers ‘loving their own’ with patronage to local biz on a roll

Singapore – Despite the ongoing pandemic, small businesses in Singapore are widely supported locally, thanks to a growing number of Singaporeans rallying their support and patronage to their products, a new report from the Singaporean arm of e-commerce giant Amazon and market research firm YouGov shows.

According to the report data, the Gen X demographic, who are born from 1965 to 1980, are the most supportive among the local demographic, tallying around 48% of respondents saying they at least buy once a week from a local business. This was then followed by millennials (44%) and Gen Z’ers (34%).

While majority of all shoppers polled said they will support organizations that have a charitable component, 63% of Gen Z shoppers said that for the same product, they would rather buy from a seller that gives back to the local community, versus one that does not, compared to 55% of both millennial and Gen X shoppers.

In terms of what type of purchases are being made, clothing and accessories topped the type of purchases being made, with 59% of respondents saying so, 64% of that data are Gen Z shoppers. Other categories include health and personal care (47%) and groceries (46%).

Regarding increased purchases made during the pandemic, pet supplies were the top purchases locally, tallying around 85% response rate from respondents. This is followed by beauty and skincare (82%) and books (78%).

With the introduction of social distancing measures and heightened public health alerts, 2 in 5 Gen X shoppers (39%) said the ability to avoid public spaces and stay safe is a key motivator for online shopping.

While 27%of Gen Z shoppers said the availability of international selection is a crucial online shopping motivator, the highest compared to their Millennial and Gen X counterparts.

Lastly, with the majority of Singaporeans identifying as Bargain Hunters (32%) and 41% saying that lower prices are the top motivator for online shopping, it comes as no surprise that 23% of shoppers rely on product comparison sites when making online shopping decisions.

“Customer obsession has always been at the heart of Amazon’s business globally. By keeping our finger on the pulse of changing consumer trends and behavior, we ensure the user experience is optimized for customers’ shopping preferences,” said Henry Low, country manager at Amazon Singapore.

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SME Featured APAC

APAC’s Plug and Play unveils new programs to accelerate startup, SME growth

Singapore – Global innovation platform Plug and Play has recently concluded its APAC-centric summit last 1 to 2 June, in which the firm introduced three new programs for startups and SMEs. 

The three new programs are the ‘Sustainability Program’, ‘Business Solutions Accelerator by Facebook’, and its ‘GK – Plug and Play Program’. 

In the virtual event, it was announced that the ‘Sustainability Program’ seeks to provide the tools and network for startups with disruptive technologies that will allow them to empower big corporations to meet their green initiatives.

Part of the solutions instated include equipping SMEs forward thinking into creating sustainable supply chains, implementation of digital technologies for sustainable production, training and advisory for sustainable practices, and compliance or certification of sustainable practices. 

Jupe Tan, managing partner at Plug and Play APAC, commented, “This year we celebrate our 15th anniversary with a global team of almost 600 across 35 cities around the world. We will look to actively invest in technologies that focus on enhancing our living environment and address our resource constraints in a sustainable manner that reduces emissions and efficiently uses natural resources.” 

Meanwhile, the ‘Business Solutions Accelerator by Facebook’ will be made possible by Facebook and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to which Tan describes as an innovation catered to looking into areas such as cleantech and clean energy, sustainable agriculture, inclusive fintech as well as inclusive healthcare.

Through the accelerator, Facebook is looking forward to nurturing and collaborating with technology partners that share Facebook’s commitment to improving the merchant experience for businesses across the Facebook family of apps. Program benefits include product education, dedicated Facebook mentors for guidance on product development and business growth, networking with fellow startups and ecosystem enablers, insights into industry and innovation trends.

Lastly, the ‘GK Plug and Play’ aims to make innovation within reach for enterprising groups and individuals. Plug and Play aims to build a smart future by connecting innovation to the brightest minds, as well as building a unique ecosystem as their mission that connects change-makers and leading organizations. So far, the accelerator program has run 8 batches and accelerated 123 startups giving them enhanced access to mentors, investors, and corporations.

On the program with Facebook and ADB, Tan said, “I am proud to announce that we have embarked on a regional partnership with the Asian Development Bank through ADB Ventures, the new venture arm of the ADB. Together with ADB Ventures, we hope to source for and invest in bold technology startups that are working to solve Asia Pacific’s biggest unsolved problems. 

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

E-commerce enabler Shopmatic slashes sign-up fees of full features for 90 days

Singapore – Singapore-based e-commerce enabler Shopmatic is pushing the needle forward for SMEs with its ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurship Program’. The program waives sign-up fees for SMEs looking to avail of Shopmatic’s services, namely, Shopmatic Webstore, Shopmatic Chat, Shopmatic Social, and Shopmatic Marketplaces.

The zero hosting charges will run within the period of 90 days which means that the offer is effective for any SME signing up between 3 June and 31 August 2021.

An event which aims to drive entrepreneurship, the ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurship Program’ seeks to further encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners to take their business online by letting them use the platform’s services, including 60 odd template options for their e-store, shipping integration, and network linkages, among others.

For the said 90-day period, merchants will be able to use the entire Shopmatic platform for setting up their e-commerce presence and will only have to pay a nominal fee of 3% per transaction whenever they make a sale. 

Shopmatic’s CEO and Co-Founder Anurag Avula commented that the latest initiative is part of their continued effort to support businesses in the current challenging environment.

“This initiative has helped many businesses during this challenging time by creating an alternate revenue stream. The business categories supported in this initiative include packaged F&B, groceries, fashion, toys, sportswear, cosmetics, jewellery, and organic products,” said Avula.

Shopmatic, aside from its headquarters in Singapore, has presence in India, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Philippines, and UAE.

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SME Featured Southeast Asia

TikTok supports SMB growth in SEA with ‘Shop Local Saturday’ initiative

Singapore – With the initiative to give small and medium businesses (SMBs) across Southeast Asia to boost brand engagement and accessibility, short video platform TikTok has launched its newest initiative ‘Shop Local Saturday’ that gives SMBs opportunities to be featured on their platform.

Currently available for SMBs across Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, the ‘Shop Local Initiative’ features a variety of paid advertising packages to showcase the SMB branding through a unique suite of in-app spotlight features on TikTok, which will roll out starting 4 June. With many SMBs still managing the impact of the pandemic, this initiative also seeks to level the playing field by raising awareness about their businesses and amplifying their offerings.

Through the initiative, SMBs will have the unique opportunity to not only participate in TikTok’s campaign but also to leverage the platform’s scale and reach. With special perks such as a dedicated in-app page that is designed to drive traffic to the various SMBs’ sites, exclusive access to creators, produced ads, creative workshops and listings on TikTok’s website and blog, SMBs will receive next-level brand exposure to drive conversions of more users into new customers. 

Beyond the benefits to local SMBs, local TikTok users in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam can also look forward to great deals, including providing promotion codes within the app for customers, available on TikTok all across June as they do their part to support their local businesses.

Esme Lean, head of small and medium business in Southeast Asia at TikTok stated that they are thrilled with the launch of said initiative, adding that the initiative aims to empower more SMBs to use TikTok as a platform to find their authentic voice and reach new audiences.

“This is our way of supporting SMBs and enabling them to grow in spite of the pandemic. We hope to show SMBs in Southeast Asia that they can leverage TikTok to launch meaningful campaigns that will ultimately drive sales and real business results,” Lean stated.

TikTok notes in its TikTok SMB Report conducted by TikTok for Business, 1 in every 4 SMBs in Thailand as well as 1 in every 3 Vietnamese and Indonesian SMBs have used TikTok as their preferred ad platform and find TikTok ads to be most effective, highlighting the strength of the platform as a marketing tool to drive their business goals.

In addition to the various benefits brought to SMBs by Shop Local Saturdays, TikTok will also amplify the initiative further on the platform through In-Feed Ads as well as attention-grabbing full-screen displays known as Brand Takeovers, to direct users to the Shop Local Saturday listings throughout June.

Beyond Shop Local Saturday, TikTok is firmly committed to helping SMBs bounce back by providing them with the tools, resources and best practices to connect with their audiences and grow their business during this difficult time:

  • TikTok Ads Manager: SMB can leverage TikTok Ads Manager to create advertising campaigns with easy set up and flexible budgets while helping their business to reach their relevant audiences. 
  • Grow with TikTok – Starter Lab: A monthly training programme kickstarted in February 2021, where over 6,600 SMBs have since benefited from learning directly from established figures in the marketing industry and TikTok experts on getting started on the platform. 
  • Small Business Resource Center: Introduced in March 2021, it houses TikTok’s practices and resources for SMBs to learn to connect with their audience and drive results. 
  • Lead Generation: TikTok’s first-party solution that helps businesses reach prospects in order to convert them into potential customers with ease, is also available to businesses. Lead Generation enables businesses of all sizes to create seamless interactions to reach prospects in order to convert them into potential customers. 
  • Supporting Local Payments on TikTok Ads Manager: TikTok supports local-friendly payments through integration with e-wallets like DANA in Indonesia and Rabbit LINE Pay. 
  • Signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with the governments in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam: TikTok has also partnered local governments in key markets with MOUs, reinforcing its commitment to supporting SMBs across the region.
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SME Featured Southeast Asia

Maxis doubles down on content with new ‘UsahaWIRA’ program to empower SMEs

Malaysia – Inspired by Malaysian SMEs’ entrepreneurial spirit and important role in the digital economy, telco Maxis has announced the launch of its new ‘UsahaWIRA’ (hero entrepreneur) program.

The program aims to help SMEs in the country to accelerate their business reactivation and build resilience for the future through digitalization.

As part of the program, Maxis will be releasing a series of initiatives and relevant content with a focus on the SME Digitalization Program by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), which showcase success stories of real-life ‘UsahaWIRAs’ that are already reaping the benefits of the grant and digital solutions, in an aim to inspire thousands of entrepreneurs across Malaysia. In addition, Maxis’ SME Help Squad will also be accessible to answer questions from business owners.

One of the program’s initiatives is “Ronda-Ronda Ketemu ‘UsahaWIRA’, Astro TV series”, which is a six-episode series that features celebrity host and business owner Ajak Shiro, and his journey with a Maxis’ SME Help Squad representative, searching for local hero entrepreneurs who want to share their stories on taking up digital solutions through the grant.

Another initiative is “‘UsahaWIRA’ film and customer featurettes”, a content that puts the spotlight on three ‘UsahaWIRAs’ across the country who overcame their challenges by digitizing their businesses with Maxis Business solutions through the grant and obtained real results that have made a difference in growing their businesses.

“Tanyalah Maxis” is also another initiative of the program, where Maxis Business and MDEC will be releasing various content pieces including bite-sized TikTok-style videos to answer all SMEs’ questions about digitalization and the Grant at the end of May.

And lastly, the “Spark ‘UsahaWIRA’” initiative, which is an extension of Maxis’ popular Spark series a series of interactive virtual forums to help businesses accelerate digital transformation and embrace IR4.0. It is a full-day event featuring some of the biggest names in the industry along with successful entrepreneurs who will share their journey on digital entrepreneurship, and host multiple workshop sessions.

Maxis’ Chief Enterprise Business Officer Paul McManus shared that as SMEs strive to protect their businesses in this challenging landscape, the company is encouraging them to think of what they need, both now and in the future, to be future-ready. 

“The ‘UsahaWIRA’ program aims to empower them to act quickly in adopting digital technologies through learnings and results from experienced entrepreneurs. Our goal is to guide them every step of the way and help them leverage digitalization so that they can always be ahead in a changing world,” said McManus.

Meanwhile, Aiza Azreen Ahmad, the chief digital business officer of MDEC, commented that the past year has brought into sharp focus the digital mandate, condensing the development of digitalization in a short period of time, as it is no longer a choice but a necessity. 

“We welcome Maxis’ ‘UsahaWIRA’ program which will give SMEs the confidence to take the first step in going digital through the SME Digitalization programs,” said Ahmad.

Just recently, Maxis has also launched ‘eKelas Usahawan’, a structured digital marketing program to empower women entrepreneurs in rural communities to develop a stronger digital presence. It comprises a series of digital marketing workshops at no cost, with a practical and hands-on approach, equipping them with digital tools and skills to help them grow their business.