Grab announced a Small Business Booster Programme aimed at helping small businesses in Southeast Asia (SEA) adapt to the COVID-19 new normal. It includes tools and initiatives to make it easier for offline businesses shift online and helps those already on the Grab platform to expand their visibility and adapt their operations to an increasingly digital-reliant world.
The programme extends Grab’s long-term commitment to digitalise traditional and small businesses and ensure they are included in the growing digital economy. Grab further announced partnerships with governments across SEA to connect farmers and other rural entrepreneurs to the digital economy.
“COVID-19 has accelerated change. We have seen dependency on online services grow exponentially almost overnight. This is spurring innovation in Southeast Asia, but is also putting us at risk of widening the digital divide. Small businesses make up the backbone of Southeast Asia’s economy, but the vast majority of these businesses are offline. They will need to embrace technology and digitalise or risk falling further behind. Through our Small Business Booster Programme, we hope to help small businesses navigate this new normal. We will draw on our technology and reach to find new ways of doing business that can inclusively support everyone,” Grab’s co-founder Hooi Ling Tan said.
Helping Southeast Asia’s small businesses adapt to a COVID-19 new normal
Prolonged social distancing measures and changes in consumer behaviours have led to an elevated demand for digital services that is expected to be permanent even as movement restrictions ease. Consumers are likely to remain cautious about venturing out and many companies are envisioning more of their workforce working from home permanently. Yet only 34% of small businesses in Southeast Asia have an online presence.
The Small Business Booster Programme aims to facilitate the digitalisation of small businesses, either by giving them a digital shopfront on the Grab platform or through e-payments integration. Among small businesses that are already on the Grab platform, an internal survey found that 76% would like more support in increasing their online visibility and 56% want tools to help them innovate and provide insights to grow their business. The programme seeks to address their needs in these areas.
Key components of the programme include:
GrabMerchant will be available to merchant-partners as an app and a web portal. The app will roll out progressively from June 2020, followed by the web portal from July 2020 in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
This builds on an earlier programme by Grab, which empowers social selling for small businesses. During COVID-19, many merchants turned to social media and instant messaging platforms to sell their products, but lacked an easy way to receive payments. Grab’s Remote GrabPay Link solution gives merchants a URL that they can send to customers to make payment, with the merchants receiving GrabPay credits instantly. Within the first few weeks of launch in Singapore and Malaysia, Grab has already seen over 2,500 merchant-partners using this feature.
Partnering with Southeast Asia’s governments to connect rural entrepreneurs to the digital economy
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation, and Grab has been actively working with local governments across Southeast Asia to ensure that the traditional ecosystems are not left behind. This includes initiatives in Indonesia and Malaysia to bring wet market and Ramadan Bazaar sellers onto the Grab platform.
Grab is expanding on this focus, working with governments in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand to connect rural entrepreneurs to the digital economy. These partnerships aim to expand economic opportunities for farmers and agricultural producers across the region by enabling them to earn directly from sales off the Grab platform at the same time ease concerns around food security.
More than 100 partner initiatives launched in response to COVID-19, $8.5 billion contributed to SEA’s economy
The second edition of the Grab for Good: Social Impact Report focuses on COVID-19’s impact and Grab’s response. Between March and April 2020, Grab committed over $40 million to partner relief efforts and rolled out over 100 initiatives to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on drivers and delivery-partners, frontliners and communities.
Between March and April 2020, over 78,000 merchants were onboarded to the Grab platform. Small businesses saw a 21% increase in online revenue through Grab during this period. Grab also created earning opportunities for over 115,000 individuals who signed up as driver or delivery-partners during this period.
The report also found that through driver, delivery, merchant and agent-partner incomes and sales generated through the Grab platform, Grab contributed an estimated $8.5 billion to Southeast Asia’s economy in the 12 months leading up to March 2020.
“COVID-19 will require exceptional collaborative efforts from all levels of society to overcome. Scientists are working on a vaccine. Policymakers are finding ways to bolster their countries’ economies. Everyday folk are helping to flatten the curve by practicing social distancing. Private companies like Grab are using our platform and tech to find ways for even the smallest micro entrepreneur or business to continue sustaining their livelihoods in these challenging times. The future is uncertain, but Southeast Asia is a community that knows how to face adversity and thrive,” Tan added.
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker