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ERIA Holds Webinar on Agility and Resilience of Micro-Businesses Amidst and After the Pandemic

22 October 2020

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Jakarta, 22 October 2020: ERIA hosted the MSMEs Talk #7 ‘Agility and Resilience of Micro-Businesses - Now and Post-Pandemic’. The webinar was organised under ERIA’s Strategy and Partnership Programme, funded by Australia, on 22nd October 2020. More than 50 participants joined the event.

In her opening remarks, Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsan, ERIA’s Director of Strategy and Partnership, mentioned that micro firms often find it difficult to scale-up and tend to have lower productivity than larger firms. She emphasized several common challenges faced by the micro firms including obtaining training, upskilling, as well as technology adoption and innovation. Thus, she highlighted the important role of policy makers to overcome the challenges. 

Four speakers shared their views and perspectives: 

  • Arief Imran, Group CEO, SERV (Malaysia)
  • Simon Soo, Founder, Track & Roll (Brunei)
  • Marco Marchese, Technical Specialist on SME Policies, ILO  
  • Doan Thi Thanh Ha, Economist, ERIA

The main messages derived from the discussion were:

  • The importance of the adoption of technology and innovation for micro firms to thrive and succeed in their businesses.
  • The importance of leveraging access to skills, access to finance, and access to markets that enable the growth of micro firms.
  • The role of government to apply policy stimulus ensuring the domestic economic market during and in the post-pandemic. 
  • Human capital and infrastructure improvement to bridge the urban-rural divide and promote inclusive socio-economic development. 

Mr Arief Imran, Group CEO of SERV from Malaysia, discussed how technology advancement enables automation and simplification allowing for better results. He gave the example of his business which develops a digital platform enabling SMEs to go online in the automotive sector. He also highlighted the importance of support from policy-makers for innovation by both entrepreneurs and governments.

Mr Simon Oo, Founder of Track & Roll in Brunei Darussalam, talked about the importance of diversification and optimization to remain agile and resilient. During the pandemic, digitalization is growing quickly in every sector of Brunei’s economy. He also mentioned the importance of the government’s stimulus for maintaining the micro firm's stability and for economic recovery in the post-pandemic.

Dr Doanh Thi Thanh Ha, economist from ERIA, stated that business demography in ASEAN tends to be dominated by MSMEs which contribute significantly to job creation particularly in some sectors such as agriculture. She highlighted how firms across ASEAN tend to be either very small or large conglomerates, whereas in the region medium-sized firms tend to be low in numbers. She highlighted some aspects that boost the productivity of micro firms and that should be supported by policymakers: human capital, technology advancement, innovation adoption and digitalization, participation in the global market through GVCs, the linkage between SMEs and FDI, also simplification and regulatory reform. She also emphasized the importance of strengthening economic integration across ASEAN to particularly boost MSMEs' productivity. 

Mr Marco Marchese, Technical Specialist on SME Policies at ILO, focussed on the common challenges of micro firms and grouped them into three key points: i) access to skills, ii) access to finance, and iii) market access especially the domestic. He also highlighted the importance of training, efficiency in operations, technological adoption and also the implementation of special tax regimes benefitting micro firms as sample practices that enable micro firms to grow. 

During the Q&A session, themes that emerged included the importance of digital technology adoption by micro-businesses. 

MSME Talk News and Recording

  1. MSME Talk #1: ASEAN MSMEs in a COVID-19 World
  2. MSME Talk #2: Riding on the E-commerce Bandwagon: 2nd ERIA MSME Series Talk
  3. MSME Talk #3: ERIA Hosted Webinar on Overcoming GVC Disruptions for MSMEs
  4. MSME Talk #4: ERIA Hosts Webinar on Women Entrepreneurship Amidst COVID-19
  5. MSME Talk #5: Sustainability Practices for MSMEs in a COVID-19 World and Beyond
  6. MSME Talk #6: ERIA hosted the MSMEs Talk #6 - Upskilling to Succeed- ASEAN MSMEs in the Digital Economy

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