US-ABC Hosts Collaborative Webinar to Strengthen Indonesian SMEs During COVID-19

On August 11, the US-ASEAN Business Council, with the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, and the Indonesian Employers’ Association (APINDO), conducted a webinar for Indonesian SMEs on digital payments. The event was part of a broader webinar series in response to the COVID-19 crisis. More than 200 owners and executives of Indonesian SMEs participated in the webinar on “Promoting Secure Digital Payments for Indonesian SMEs.”

The webinar was officially opened by Ambassador Michael Michalak, SVP and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council, along with Mr. Navin Jain, Country Manager, Mastercard Indonesia.

"The COVID-19 Pandemic has driven shoppers in Southeast Asia online. Regionally, online spending across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam is now expected to be worth US$147 billion by 2025--surpassing an earlier estimate of US$120 billion for the same period. Indonesia could drive this growth based on the latest estimates for its e-commerce sales, where gross merchandise value is projected to nearly triple to US$72 billion in 2025. The number of Southeast Asian digital consumers has grown exponentially, and their consumption habits are shaping today's new normal," said Amb. Michalak in his opening remarks.

Navin Jain, Country Manager of PT Mastercard Indonesia said, “Micro and small, medium enterprises are amongst the most important drivers of GDP and employment in Indonesia. The increased use of digital tools by consumers and large businesses makes it important for small businesses to adapt and embrace the benefits which can come from participating in the digital ecosystem, whether it be in the form of selling online or accepting all forms of non-cash payment methods. The pandemic has made this more important than ever. Mastercard is committed to supporting the growth of small businesses through its partnerships, payments technologies, products and solutions that help to resolve challenges they encounter and facilitate SMEs to contribute even more towards the country’s development.”

Ir. Victoria Br. Simanungkalit, MM, Deputy of Production and Marketing at the Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Indonesia, also delivered remarks at the Webinar; followed by remarks from Mr. Ronald Walla, Chair of MSMEs/SMIs APINDO.


“The digital economy not only has benefits but also has its own threats, especially on the possibility of non-consented data sharing and sensitive information. It is important for SMEs to be aware of the security issues in digital business activities, especially since most SMEs still lack information or knowledge in digital literacy. Therefore, education on prevention and cybersecurity issues is part of the government and private sector’s responsibility to ensure safety in doing business for SMEs,” said Ibu Victoria in her remarks.

Mr. Ronald Walla, Chair of MSMEs/SMIs APINDO stated in his remarks that, “Market behavior has changed dramatically, and we are forced to transform. Our life values have been challenged to survive and stay relevant. With the lessons and gifts of the current moment, it is our chance to take this opportunity to learn and grow for humanity through digital and less physical.”

Through this webinar, the Council offered a collaborative intervention to support Indonesian SMEs in understanding and adapting to disruptive technologies, as well as embracing a Digital ASEAN. Maximizing ASEAN’s digital potential will accelerate intra-regional trade and encourage Indonesian SMEs to compete globally. However, an increasingly digital world also carries risks. Inadequate internet protection systems and cybersecurity attacks have been problematic in Indonesia. It is important to manage and protect digital activity of Indonesian businesses to ensure the safety and security of operations.

Mastercard, a sponsor of the Council’s 2020 SME program, has promoted the benefits of digital payments and cashless transaction for SMEs. This is the second webinar led by Mastercard on digital payments, the first being previously held in Thailand on July 10.

“Across the world, Mastercard has been working closely with the private and public sector to implement and accelerate the adoption of digital payments by SMEs. Recently, Mastercard expanded its worldwide commitment to financial inclusion by pledging to bring a total of 1 billion people and 50 million micro and small businesses into the digital economy by 2025. Mastercard is proud to partner with the US-ASEAN Business Council with both organizations shared the same commitment of providing SMEs with innovative and relevant learning program like this webinar to further help building their resilience in navigating through the COVID-19 crisis and prepare for the ‘new normal’” Navin added.

SME capacity building has been a key pillar of the Council for nearly a decade. In 2011, the US-ASEAN Business Council established a training program for ASEAN SMEs in response to a request by ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) to support ASEAN SMEs in leveraging technology and intra-global consumer and supply bases. Today, more than 7,500 SMEs have benefitted from Council’s SME programs in all ten ASEAN Member States. In Indonesia alone, the Council has conducted six workshops.

In line with going digital, the Council launched the online ASEAN SME Academy, a self-help and self-paced online learning platform for SMEs, in 2016. The academy offers free courses and resources from the Council’s member companies. The Academy is co-administered with the Philippines Department Trade and Industry (DTI) and Philippine Trade Training Centre (PTTC) on behalf of the Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME). You can read more about the academy and access it here www.asean-sme-academy.org.

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.