MSMEs in a World of Digitised Trade
Moderated by Elias Schulze, cofounder and managing director Kana Television, Ethiopia
Rapid changes in technology have forced small businesses to improve significantly. Knowing where to go and what specific technology will support them in the quest to achieve their goals are essential to navigate the path to success.
Eddy Lee, Managing Partner, Coffee Ventures, Singapore, emphasised how MSMEs must be familiar with their marketplace. They must dig unique opportunities and find ways to digitise their position in that specific market. He cited the hijab community as an example of a marketplace. For an MSME to utilise such knowledge, it must establish and promote an online presence among hijab communities, making sure they can easily be found via Google search.
Philip Glickman, Regional Head of Commercial Payments, Mastercard Asia Pacific, said that knowledge and adaptability have been proven by the big companies that were MSMEs in the past. They jump the rungs of a vertical ladder because they can capitalise on data and can succeed in exploiting opportunities, among them through partnership. He explained how big companies afford to buy other companies to complement their services, while for MSMEs ‘specific’ partnership is the key. He encouraged MSMEs to partner with other companies to fill in the gaps in their business deliveries. Once MSMEs know how to choose a partner correctly and how to use data effectively, it can understand the vertical course to success.
Ridzki Kramadibrata, Director Grab Indonesia added that understanding the local market is important for MSMEs to grow. Realizing that the cashless community is still small in Indonesia, Grab offered a cash-based system for their hail-riding services. This understanding allow them to attract markets and acquire customers of other ride-sharing services.
The three speakers agreed that education and improvement in human capacity will generate more opportunities for MSMEs to exploit the current technology revolution. They believe that as technology costs become more affordable in the future, some would be provided free; MSMEs will rely for growth on ‘smart people’—the right people who know offline and online behaviour, who know both mainstream and social media preferences, and who can make the right decisions, fully informed.