Aiming to close the digital gap for 200,000 micro, small and medium business owners in Southeast Asia, The Asia Foundation, Pailig Development Foundation, Clevergrit Web Services, and Yoveo Digital, with support from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, have teamed up to provide digital literacy training through the Go Digital ASEAN regional initiative. In the Philippines, the project is equipping jobseekers and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with necessary online tools and technological skills to participate in the digital economy and overcome the economic impacts brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Filipinos grapple with the effects of the ongoing pandemic, Go Digital ASEAN is delivering employment opportunities and business growth through three course offerings: Digital Tools for Jobseekers, Harnessing Social Media to Expand Your Business, and Getting Your Business Online.
The free digital skills training is conducted through online classrooms in two half-day sessions with a certification issued upon course completion. The courses focus on creating online professional profiles to maximize employment opportunities, increasing market reach of MSMEs through social media, and supporting the digitization of agri-tourism enterprises. As of April 30, 2021, Go Digital ASEAN in the Philippines has trained 3,385 jobseekers and entrepreneurs. Results from baseline and post-training data show positive impacts. Training participants who are ‘very confident’ in the use of digital tools rose from 18.62% prior to training to 52.55% post training.
Filipino jobseekers and MSMEs are invited to join this free initiative. Registration is still open at www.godigitalasean.ph. Interested learners must have a stable enough connection to connect to the online classroom and a reliable device to participate in the online sessions.
“We are scaling the Go Digital ASEAN training to bring fundamental digital skills training to 25,000 Filipinos with support from Google.org. Initially working with a team of 25 partners skilled in training, Human Resource Management, Business Process Outsourcing, Information Technology, micro- and small-enterprise development, and digital freelancing backgrounds, we will expand partnerships with government agencies and units, private sector, civil society organizations, and the academe to strengthen digitalization programs and ensure economic and business continuity across the country.” says Sam Chittick, The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in the Philippines.
Go Digital ASEAN in the Philippines is designed to support the government’s economic recovery efforts and priorities to lessen the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, particularly on MSMEs and jobseekers. The passage of Republic Act No. 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act directed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and other government agencies to expedite the digitalization of MSMEs including cooperatives through training subsidies, upskilling/reskilling of enterprises and other similar activities.
DTI Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development (BSMED) Director Jerry Clavesillas shared, “Our recent partnership with The Asia Foundation to promote the Go Digital ASEAN in the country clearly shows our support to this ASEAN initiative in providing Filipino MSMEs and jobseekers additional opportunities for online learning. The Go Digital ASEAN complements the Department’s effort on digitalization of MSMEs envisioned in the Philippine MSME Development Plan 2017-2022. The project intends to reach more enterprises particularly those in the countryside including businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and equip them with digital skills and tools to recover and grow their businesses and livelihoods and to participate in the digital economy. This ASEAN-wide commitment which was approved and officially endorsed for implementation in 2020 by the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on MSMEs (ACCMSME), where the Philippines is an active member, supports the objectives of the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework, contributing to its vision set out in the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-2025.”
Bernadette Nacario, Country Director for Google Philippines added, “Small businesses are the heart of the Philippine economy. We have seen how the current pandemic has impacted so many entrepreneurs and business owners across the country, and there is an urgent need to support their digitalization so they can continue to keep their businesses going. We are extremely proud to support the work that The Asia Foundation is driving through the Go Digital ASEAN program. This grant builds on our ongoing commitment to equip more individuals with skills training so they can participate in the country’s growing digital economy.”
Go Digital ASEAN in the Philippines is conducting free training sessions to support the economic recovery of Filipinos. Interested learners can register at www.godigitalasean.ph. Interested partners keen to collaborate and bring free Go Digital ASEAN training opportunities to their communities can contact the program through the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.