(Bali, Indonesia) � Nearly 100 Indonesian SME owners and executives participated in a full-day workshop titled, Innovation for SMEs Go-Online: Winning the Global Competition in Bali on August 27. The workshop was conducted by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) in close collaboration with Indonesia’s Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises (CSMEs).

We acknowledge that the digital transformation of SMEs can bring tremendous challenges, but more importantly, we see tremendous opportunities for SMEs who harness digital capabilities to expand their businesses, said Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, US-ABC Senior Vice President & Regional Managing Director, during his opening remarks. To help work through some of these challenges, we used this workshop to hear from policymakers about programs and opportunities that SMEs can use to become more competitive, such as our ASEAN SME Online Academy.

Workshop sessions were tailored specifically for the national policy SMEs Go-Online. They emphasized the growing need, affordability and sustainability, for businesses to come online. Speakers discussed ways to empower SMEs and how to access and utilize tools to enhance digital capabilities.

To face the age of digitalization and globalization, integrated marketing can be realized through collaboration and synergy with all stakeholders, including private sector, academia NGOs and others, said Victoria Simanungkalit, Deputy of Production and Marketing for the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises of Indonesia, during a keynote address to participants. This morning’s workshop is an example of such a collaboration, with the US-ASEAN Business Council.

In addition to hearing from policymakers, participants engaged with US-ABC member companies Facebook, FedEx and Visa, who spoke about logistics, digital payment, and digital marketing. Representatives from these companies shared insights on how to maximize the benefits of adopting digital commerce platforms and highlighted best practices within their own firms.

As more people turn to their phones to discover new things, small businesses need a strong mobile strategy, said Ruben Hattari, Public Policy Lead for Facebook in Indonesia. Facebook believes the best way to support Indonesia’s vision for the digital economy is by equipping small businesses with the tools, knowledge and digital skills they need to be successful.

It’s no secret�when small businesses succeed, communities thrive, said Matt Baker, Head of SME Visa Business Solutions. At Visa we know that Small Businesses, both within Indonesia and globally, are facing significant challenges in managing and growing their business. When it comes to payments, whether making payments or being paid, doing this digitally will enable the SME to thrive. It can provide them with much needed cash-flow, give them more time to spend on important value-add tasks, such as finding customers and managing their staff. Finally, with digital payments comes data, which can be used for analysis and forecasting for the business. We truly believe that Indonesian SMEs are well positioned for success in the age of digital commerce and we are thrilled to be able to support them on this journey.

In 2011, the US-ASEAN Business Council established a training program for ASEAN SMEs in response to a request by the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) to support ASEAN SMEs leverage technology and the intra-global consumer and supply base. More than 47 SME Workshops across ASEAN have been conducted. In Indonesia alone, the Council has conducted four workshops, three times in Jakarta and once in Surabaya. It is the first workshop collaboration that takes place in Bali. In 2016, the Council launched the online ASEAN SME Academy (www.asean-sme-academy.org), a self-help and self-paced online learning platform for SMEs, offering free courses and resources from the Council’s member companies.

Source: US-ASEAN Business Council