Jakarta. Google Indonesia kick-started its free digital training and website building program on Monday (15/05) to help micro, small and medium-sized companies in Indonesia expand.
Google Indonesia, an incorporated arm of the US tech giant, is looking to help MSMEs in the country rake in more revenue and reach wider markets for their products.
"SME is absolutely the foundation of the economy of this nation [...] they are actually driving 97 percent of the economy," Tony Keusgen, Google Indonesia's managing director, said.
Various reports from international organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank, have shown that Indonesia's MSMEs contributed significantly to the country's economic resilience during the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Keusgen said Google Indonesia is committed to bringing Indonesia's small businesses online to help them gain greater access to foreign markets.
The Southeast Asian nation is home to more than 55 million SMEs, which in turn employ over 108 million people and generate revenues equal to Rp 9,470 trillion ($712 billion), according to a 2015 report by Oxford Economics.
That report found that firms operating a website in Indonesia were 4.6 times more likely to export their goods than sell domestically.
In 2015, only 16 percent of Indonesian MSMEs with five or more employed staff operated their own website, and only 3 percent of those firms exported their products.
If the number of SMEs with such criteria doubled, the country could generate as much as Rp 735 trillion in additional export sales and create 770,000 new jobs.
Operated under the Gapura Digital flagship, Google Indonesia will hold offline business training sessions in Jakarta, Bandung (West Java) and Surabaya (East Java) once a week until the end of 2017.
Those sessions are expected to be expanded to Semarang and Malang (Central Java), Yogyakarta, Denpasar (Bali), Makassar (South Sulawesi), Pontianak (West Kalimantan) and Medan (North Sumatra) later this year, but Google stated that it will evaluate the effectiveness of its program before deciding on extending sessions into 2018.
Fida Heyder, Google Indonesia's product marketing manager for small and medium businesses, told reporters that Gapura Digital is a more comprehensive version of the previous program, called Gapura — short for Gerakan Pelatihan Usaha Rakyat Digital — launched in 2014.
"This time, we will have more in-depth classes that will combine theory and practice," she said.
According to Fida, the previous Gapura initiative was held in six cities and occurred only once a year in seminar-like classes of 1,000 participants. The new format, she said, will be more intimate, with around 40 participants to be gathered in smaller co-working spaces equipped with high-speed Internet connections.
Gapura Digital is accessible to any small business upon registration.
The Gapura Digital program is similar to a program that Google currently operates in India, Google Indonesia's head of corporate communications Jason Tedjasukmana said.
That program, called Digital Unlocked, also offers training and website templates for local small businesses.
"Both India and Indonesia have many small and medium enterprises, and both also have a similar demography. Businesses in both countries are also struggling with limited funding and limited access to the Internet," Jason said on Monday.
Meanwhile, MSMEs are also encouraged to join Google's existing free platform, "Google Bisnisku," which allows enterprises to promote their goods on the Internet to domestic markets.
The tech giant added a new feature on Google Bisnisku on Monday that allows its users to craft websites using simple and editable templates.