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Ride-hailing firm to help small traditional businesses digitalise

The Malaysian arm of a technology company that offers different ride-hailing transport services, online food delivery and payment solutions has announced that it is shifting its focus to empowering Malaysia’s small traditional businesses embrace and thrive within the digital economy.

The aim is to establish a sustainable economic ecosystem, as the nation contends with the COVID-19 pandemic and Movement Control Order (MCO).

In a statement today, the firm’s Country Head stated that considering the circumstances as a result of COVID-19 and the MCO, the nation must adapt and innovate to establish a sustainable economic ecosystem.

Hence, the company has decided to focus on helping its community of merchants thrive by growing their demand and, in doing so, creating income for thousands of delivery partners.

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought to light the importance of being adaptable and to embrace change. Therefore, the hope is that the firm can continue working with the government on more sustainable efforts to make the digital economy a more viable contributing pillar in our nation’s economy.

The firm saw very encouraging results from its measures to protect its merchants, drivers, and delivery partners’ livelihoods during this financially turbulent time.

Therefore, the partnerships with local governments and organisations will give the firm a larger stage to accelerate its support for small, traditional businesses and micro-entrepreneurs.

The aim is to help them, not only to serve the millions of Grab users but also to leverage on the firm’s platform to serve their regular customers conveniently and efficiently, the Country Head stated.

According to Grab Malaysia’s statement, the combined impact from efforts like Grab’s Small-Biz Relief programme and the Local Heroes campaign has seen encouraging results on two fronts.

Malaysia’s MCO, which was initially scheduled between 18 March and 31 March this year, requires non-essential businesses to stop operations, while the public has been ordered to stay at home to curb the COVID-19 outbreak.

On 25 March 2020, the Prime Minister stated that the government decided to extend the MCO until 14 April, because updates from the National Security Council and Health Ministry indicated an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Then, in the latest update from 10 April, the PM said the government was extending the MCO until 28 April.

Using tech to cope with COVID-19

OpenGov Asia earlier reported that The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has partnered with seven crowdfunding operators to support SMEs and entrepreneurs.

The focus will be to garner financial support to help SMEs navigate cash flow and working capital challenges the pandemic has brought about.

Before this, MDEC launched another similar initiative with crowdfunding platforms to raise funds for frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

MDEC also kicked off a campaign where 80 Malaysian tech companies have offered services on a pro-bono basis or discounted rates to SMEs during this period of economic uncertainty.

Of 239 startups polled in a survey by the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), 35.1% said they needed loans, 23.8% preferred grants or subsidies while 3.8% were looking for ways to defer repayments.

It was noted that 75% of the respondents were either unsure or unaware of auxiliary financial support and incentives that were available for entrepreneurs.

MDEC is proactively working to fill in these gaps and ensure that entrepreneurs and startups were made aware of initiatives that have been implemented to support them.

The business sector has been very receptive to the RM 10 billion financial lifelines for micro-entrepreneurs and SMEs.

None the less, MDEC is also aware that many entrepreneurs may not be successful in obtaining government grants and other financial aid.

To mitigate this, the Global Growth Acceleration Division of MDEC has been looking at other financing options that could help struggling businesses successfully navigate these perilous waters.

For the current funding initiative, MDEC has obtained support from the Registered Digital Market Association (RDMA) with members comprising Equity Crowdfunding (ECF) and Peer-to-Peer Financing (P2P) operators that are registered by the Securities Commission of Malaysia.

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