By Esther K. Sianipar, Citizenship Manager, Microsoft Indonesia
Riding on the strong e-commerce momentum, an increasing number of businesses in Southeast Asia are tapping on online resources to expand their reach. Yet, there are many small and fledgling business startups still faced with the lack of e-commerce capabilities to support their business development.
In 2012, Microsoft rolled out a two-year, US$300,000 grant programme in partnership with the ASEAN Foundation, aimed at boosting the ICT capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. As part of this initiative, we collaborated with NGOs such as SOS Children Villages in Indonesia and Go Negosyo in the Philippines to develop a comprehensive ICT curriculum tailored to address the needs of entrepreneurs in these countries.
To date, the ICT programme has benefitted 960 entrepreneurs, while more than 20,000 youth were able to realise more opportunities through improved access to technology. The project beneficiaries, typically aged between 16 and 25, gained the technology skills needed to enhance their business competitiveness.
In December 2014, Microsoft and the ASEAN Foundation jointly held an ICT incubator seminar in Jakarta, where several young entrepreneurs from the participating countries shared their success stories. I found it very inspiring to hear and learn from the diverse experiences of these enterprising individuals, who have been able to scale their businesses through technology.
Tommy Reinhart Purba, founder of handicraft specialist Medan Miniatur and one of many aspiring entrepreneurs, is leveraging the latest e-commerce tools to broaden the reach of his business. Since 2010, the 22-year-old undergraduate at the University of North Sumatra has been producing miniature models of furniture, musical instruments and vehicles—including the iconic ‘becak motor’, a motorised tricycle commonly sighted on the streets of his hometown, Medan.
Having received the ICT training, Tommy learned how to make use of social media and blogging platforms to showcase the rich artistry of his handicraft. He also learned how to utilise Microsoft Office software to create attractive marketing collateral and better manage his business operations.
“I gained valuable insights through the training activities, especially in building a strong online presence to promote our products. I am grateful to be part of the community of entrepreneurs supported by Microsoft and the ASEAN Foundation, and to have had the opportunity to connect with other young startups,” Tommy said.
At Microsoft, we believe technology enablement is well within the reach of young entrepreneurs. With the support of our NGO partners, we will continue working towards fuelling the growth and aspirations of young entrepreneurs across the region.