The unprecedented scale at which COVID-19 has impacted business-as-usual for all has been especially challenging for small and medium businesses to deal with. Some saw the opportunity to rethink their offerings or even go fully digital, but many were left looking for ways to stay afloat and survive.
Recognising that recovery looks different for each business at varying stages of recovery, Google has rolled out various initiatives and programmes from March this year for businesses to pivot quickly and learn new digital skills, adapt, and in some cases, rebuild.
Financial initiatives and resources
To help equip micro and small enterprises as well as various other underprivileged communities in rural and isolated areas with crucial digital skills and tools, we announced a RM14 million grant in support of the Go Digital ASEAN program, an initiative by the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and The Asia Foundation. As part of this program, 15,000 Malaysian SMEs, unemployed youths, indigenous communities and people with disabilities will be trained with the help of International Youth Center and Startup Malaysia.
The Google for Startups Accelerator: Southeast Asia, a three month online accelerator program for high potential, early stage tech startups across the Southeast Asia region, is another initiative we’ve recently launched. Continuing our commitment to help startups solve specific, technical challenges with Google support and resources, this year’s program focuses on solutions relating to healthcare, education, finance or logistics.
“We hope these ongoing efforts will strongly contribute towards driving Malaysia’s economic recovery. We want to help Malaysians to stay positive, resilient and to make the most of the situation at hand — whether it is for a business owner, entrepreneur, or a job seeker – that is looking to progress, develop and to grow,” said Marc Woo, Country Head, Google Malaysia.
Digital upskilling and training
Aside from providing funds, we have also shifted our in-person training program online to continue helping businesses fully embrace going digital. Our Mahir Digital Bersama Google has seen the addition of new modules aimed at guiding businesses owners in building online presence and taking sales online.
In addition to in-person training, there’s also Skillshop, a free one-stop online platform where Malaysians can enhance their knowledge on Google tools and solutions, and leverage those skills to achieve their business or personal goals. With a flexible structure, users are free to choose when, where and how they want to learn, at a pace that works for them, so that they are able to upskill and still run a business effectively.
To date, these trainings have helped upskill over 8,000 Malaysians in the past year, producing real-world results. We have seen businesses rising above challenges of recent times, such as the family-owned inn Check Inn in Miri, Sarawak, that has managed to increase its digital presence as well as online customer engagement with its newly-found skills.
“We understand that small businesses are the backbone of Malaysia’s economy, and hence focused our effort in ensuring that the existing tools and resources are relevant in supporting the survival, and growth of these businesses,” said Lars Anthonisen, Head of Marketing, Google Malaysia, Singapore & South Asian Frontier.
Resilience success stories
TheLorry’s ingenuity in identifying current trends through Google Trends, amplifying their Business Profile on Google, paired with mobilizing Search Ads campaigns has been a good reason for their success in spite of movement restriction orders.
“Operating in a dynamic environment means rethinking what we know about consumer trends and remembering that little things can go a long way in helping people. Ultimately, we want to better serve the everyday needs that are most relevant to consumers’ lives and improve their livelihoods”, said Nadhir Ashafiq, Co-Founder & Executive Director, TheLorry.
Similarly, Langit Collective shifted their marketing direction and target consumers by strengthening their brand presence online, resulting in an increase in website visits, calls and direction requests.
“With Google Analytics, we can make better data-driven decisions to reach and create value for our customers. It has really pushed us to improve our adoption of tools such as Google My Business, spurring to relook our assets and to figure out how to best optimize them to reach more potential customers,” shared Melisa, Co-Founder & CMO, Langit Collective.
It’s not just businesses that have shown resilience, but also everyday Malaysians, as shown by YouTube sensation couple, M.Sugu and S. Pavithra, better known as Sugu Pavithra. They rose to fame after videos of their day-to-day life, especially their cooking, were shared on YouTube. Simply put, their simplicity and humility caught the attention of the nation.
Pavithra said, “We were inspired by our neighbour’s small scale success with YouTube, and this has definitely piqued our interest to give it a try. We are glad that our journey in YouTube thus far has been rewarding, granting us another source of income.”