New initiative bridges digital divide, says Javed Ahmad

Lyna Mohamad

Digital technology and tools are important to create globally competitive, resilient and innovative micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). This was underscored by DARe (Darussalam Enterprise) CEO Javed Ahmad at the country launch of GO Digital ASEAN for
Brunei yesterday.

“Achieving this mutual interest and need, I recognise that the Go Digital ASEAN initiative bridges the digital divide through a tailored digital literacy training designed to equip MSMEs, as well as underemployed youth, particularly in remote areas,” he said.

The DARe CEO then disclosed the outcome of a country-needs assessment conducted early this year with local partners, which he said showed opportunities to tap into a sizeable amount from marginalised communities without mobile devices.

He said, “While recognising the high penetration use of mobile devices and social media, MSMEs are looking for ways to leverage on technology such as e-commerce, teleconferencing or remote workspaces, especially in light of COVID-19.

“Women are also seen as a potential group to empower with these tools, while balancing their responsibilities as homemakers.”

DARe CEO Javed Ahmad. PHOTO: LYNA MOHAMAD

Javed highlighted the recently announced online edition of Industry Business Academy (IBA), which is in partnership with Coursera to provide MSMEs with the opportunity to learn essential business skills remotely.

IBA Online is designed to be flexible, intuitive and suited to the needs of most businesses, with several courses from the world’s best instructors and universities.

“Initiatives like Go Digital ASEAN and IBA Online, coincide with the recent launch by the Digital Economy Council early last month on the five-year Digital Economy Masterplan 2025,” he said.

Head of Business Advisory and Services of DARe Norlela binti Suhailee, in her capacity as Head of Asean Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) Brunei Darussalam, said, “Since its first involvement with ACCMSME four years ago, DARe, as Brunei’s national MSME agency and ACCMSME focal, has been on the lookout for opportunities for Brunei MSMEs to participate in regional initiatives to provide greater exposure and encourage their development.

“In light of the economic challenges brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on how businesses operate during these trying times, The Asia Foundation (TAF) and Google.org reviewed and made changes to the implementation of the Go Digital ASEAN initiative to focus the efforts in assisting MSMEs, as well as the affected people to adopt digitalisation to survive the crisis and sustain a resilient business.”