The Asia Foundation and ASEAN with support from global digital powerhouse Google have launched the Go Digital ASEAN initiative, and in Cambodia 15,000 are set to benefit.
What is the Go Digital ASEAN initiative?
The initiative has the financial support of a $3.3 million grant from Google.org and it is designed to “train up to 200,000 people from rural regions and underserved communities—including entrepreneurs, underemployed youth, and women. Working with local partners in AMS, the USD3.3 million grant will broaden participation in the digital economy to include groups that have the most to gain from digital literacy skills and online safety awareness. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, this initiative will also be a mechanism for helping MSMEs to learn about programs or assistance that can help them continue to operate during the COVID-19 crisis.”
This project will reach up to 200,000 underserved people and rural micro-enterprises across the region, including 60% women and 40% youth (age range between 15 and 35 years) said the initiative.
On the Asian Foundation website for the Go Digital ASEAN Initiative, it says “The Go Digital ASEAN initiative is designed to: equip micro and small enterprises and underemployed youth, particularly those in rural and isolated areas, with crucial digital skills and tools; expand economic opportunity across the ASEAN Member States and minimize the negative impact from the COVID-19 crisis.
The program is lead by the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME), this is their first private-public initiative of this magnitude and in partnership with civil society and the corporate sectors.
The ten ASEAN member states include Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
David D. Arnold, President of The Asia Foundation said in a press statement, “We are pleased to activate this first-of-its-kind collaboration—pooling expertise and approaches from government, business, and NGO sectors—to help bridge the digital gap.“
How can MSMEs in Cambodia benefit?
The Asia Foundation website says that “Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for 99% of businesses in key sectors of most ASEAN economies and employ more than 80% of the workforce, according to the ASEAN Secretariat. The project is working with both MSME owners and underemployed workers to improve their digital literacy, as the future success of each group will be mutually reinforcing. Digital integration can bridge the digital divide to create a more inclusive ASEAN region.”
Ms. Stephanie Davis, Managing Director at Google Southeast Asia, added in the statement on the launch “Small businesses are at the heart of every country’s economy and community. The current difficult circumstances have reinforced the urgency of supporting their digitisation. The Asia Foundation and ACCMSME share our passion to help local businesses succeed, grow and create an opportunity for local economies. This grant builds upon our initiatives that focus on skills training in the region and reflect our commitment and investment in the region.”
In Cambodia, 15,000 people are said to benefit. The Khmer Times reports that the “selected implementing partners will utilise part of the funding to develop digital literacy training modules for 15,000 MSMEs owners across the Phnom Penh municipality and Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Siem Reap, and Battambang provinces.
The details below are from PRNewswire.
InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia’s mission is to improve global health, safety and sustainable development through collaborating with end-users, co-creating tools, ensuring impact, and building capacity.
InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia is developing training content and curriculum as well providing Training of Trainer training to volunteer trainers.
STAR Kampuchea’s mission is to improve the capacities of civil society organizations and communities to deliver high-quality advocacy assistance on priority issues of vulnerable and disadvantaged people. STAR Kampuchea is mobilizing volunteer trainers to deliver training to rural micro and SME entrepreneurs in seven targeted locations.
Development Innovations was a six-year USAID-funded project that helped civil society organizations, technology companies, social enterprises and young innovators to design and use the information and communications technology (ICT) solutions and employ innovative processes to tackle Cambodia’s development challenges.
Development Innovations advised on curriculum development and implementation planning prior to the conclusion of their program in 2019.
The training across ASEAN will be adapted to local needs, conditions, and contexts. Some examples of the training include:
- Follow-on mentoring
- One-on-one training
- Online Safety
- Digital Skills for entrepreneurs
- Digital literacy for jobseekers
Cambodia has recently launched an online learning initiative to combat the effects of COVID-19 on education and launched the Techo Startup Centre in 2019 to support young entrepreneurs and aid the Royal Cambodian Government’s plans to transform Cambodia into a digital economy.