Facebook is bringing training and resources to help SMEs in Malaysia grow their business and export their products. Source: Tech Wire Asia

Facebook helping Malaysia SMEs to go global

SELLING in a foreign country is one of the biggest challenges for small and medium businesses (SMEs) in Malaysia.

As more and more consumers in ASEAN shop across borders, SMEs must take advantage of e-commerce to grow their businesses beyond the country.

To address the digital skills gap amongst SMEs in Malaysia, Facebook is working with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and e-commerce platform Avana to provide SMEs in the country with training and resources to grow their businesses internationally.

Named “Made by Malaysia, Loved by the World”, the programme aims to facilitate business exports for at least 2,000 businesses in the country.

According to numbers from Facebook, 87 million people globally are connected to a small business in Malaysia. However, only one in 10 SMEs are exporting goods overseas.

On a related note, two-thirds of Facebook users said that they have shopped with retailers in other countries.

“In order to remain relevant as an exporting nation, Malaysia needs to embrace the digital trade revolution,” said Matrade CEO, Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros.

“E-commerce has the potential to improve productivity over traditional companies that focus only on brick and mortar businesses. Malaysia SMEs that do not have the right capabilities to compete in the digital world could stand to lose out in the future.”

Under the partnership, SMEs can learn skills in market research, digital marketing, and building their e-commerce presence via training programmes by Facebook and Avana.

“Businesses need a cost-effective and uncomplicated way to market themselves. Online tools play an important role in facilitating international trade,” said Darell Leiking, Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

He added that 82 percent of exporting SMEs in Malaysia said at least half of their exports depend on the usage of online tools. In addition, 65 percent of exporters using online tools for selling internationally have increased their revenue.

“Social media and online tools really help us market to the world. Before that, you’d have to open an outlet and spend a lot of money upfront,” said Fizo Omar, Managing Director of Fizo Omar Consultancy who attended the press conference. “Now, you can sit and home, or even just do it part-time and you can still have the opportunity to penetrate the global market.”

One of the early participants of the Made by Malaysia programme was also on hand to share her journey.

“I’ve been running my business for several years, and I’ve never had a store. Now I’m selling across Malaysia, as well as Arabic countries, China, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia – all from my office,” said Rozita Che Wan, Founder of local beauty brand byRCW.

Malaysia is the third in the world to implement this program, after Taiwan and South Korea. The government hopes that the initiative will help increase the contribution of SMEs to the GDP to 41 percent and increase SME exports to 23 percent by 2020.