The program has supported 36,579 underserved micro, small and medium businesses in Indonesia to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 caused an unprecedented shock to the global economy. With typically tight margins, it was clear that micro, small and medium businesses were going to be vulnerable to economic downturn and suffer financial difficulties regardless of industry. In Indonesia, 48.6% of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have temporarily closed, amounting to more than 31 million MSMEs, while 30.5% have experienced a drop in domestic demand. (ADB, 2020; Statistics Indonesia, 2018). This is a specifically concerning problem for women entrepreneurs as 60% of SMEs in Indonesia are women-owned.
In response to this, YCAB was part of a global programme aiming to reach over 200,000 underserved micro, small and medium businesses in 32 countries across EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and APAC (Asia-Pacific). This programme was launched in April 2020 when Youth Business International and its experienced network of Enterprise Support Organisations (members and delivery partners), with grant support from Google.org, began to provide rapid support to those businesses and entrepreneurs hardest hit by the pandemic. With the support of YBI, YCAB was able to implement a holistic package of emergency support, which by the end of 2020 had reached more than 197,000 entrepreneurs globally, helping them to respond to and recover from the impact of COVID-19.
With COVID-19, YCAB had to innovate to educate as the current policies surrounding social distancing have made it impossible to reach and educate offline. In light of this, YCAB adapted its paradigm and shifted to a digital approach by developing an integrated educational learning system that features a Chatbot and a Learning Management System (LMS), made accessible through the WhatsApp platform. To help sustain their businesses, women micro-entrepreneurs were provided with financial literacy training followed by mentoring sessions with topics covering, but not limited to, managing expenses, digital marketplace, and business loans. In an effort to further support more entrepreneurs, YCAB also developed a Helpline with the aim to provide easily accessed information made accessible to the general public. Through the Helpline service, entrepreneurs have easy access to information regarding COVID-19, financial literacy, business capital loan, health information, and stress management.
Renny Agfhany, Program Beneficiary, said:
“I am grateful for the program as I received much needed help and assistance. In my opinion, the expertise needed by (entrepreneurs) today is definitely marketing, which I get to learn through the program. From experience, as entrepreneurs it is important to not be afraid of improvement and innovation.”
Anita Tiessen, CEO of Youth Business International, said:
“We are immensely proud of the work that our Network has achieved through Google.org’s support in rapidly responding to meet the needs of entrepreneurs during this deeply challenging year for small businesses. The programme’s focus on helping entrepreneurs find digital solutions and new ways of working will set thousands of entrepreneurs on a sustainable road to recovery.
As we concentrate on building back better from the impact of COVID-19, young entrepreneurs will continue to play a crucial role in creating a more equal economy and society, and we will continue to support them to do so.”
Marija Ralic, Google.org Lead, APAC, said:
“It has been an extremely challenging time for many businesses worldwide. At Google.org, we believe it’s important to focus our efforts on areas that we can impact, specifically around economic relief and recovery. Over the years, we’ve supported initiatives that equip business owners and entrepreneurs with digital knowledge and tools to help grow their businesses. This incredibly challenging time is even more critical for us to continue our work in this space.
We are incredibly proud to support Youth Business International and its delivery partners’ work to equip entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific and Europe with relevant digital skills and tools, so they can adjust and succeed as our economies reopen.”
Over the last year Youth Business International has gained key insights from rallying its network to respond to the pressing needs of millions of young entrepreneurs around the world, catalysing a global response alongside key funders and member organisations like YCAB. As a result of the grant from Google.org, later this year YBI will release an extensive report on learnings from their COVID-19 response thus far, and those entrepreneurs it has supported.
The past year has changed the face of business for the foreseeable future. Looking forward, the importance of the role that entrepreneurs will play in shaping future societies and economies is clear. Programmes such as this one will provide and promote the necessary support, innovation and skills to ensure that entrepreneurs will contribute towards a richer and more resilient economy for all.