The Digital Export Enablement Programme (DEEP) for ASEAN Small Businesses aims to support 1,000 micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the ASEAN region by equipping them with digital export-relevant skills.

According to a recent study conducted by ICC and Google, MSMEs in ASEAN have a relatively low participation in regional trade relative to their economic importance, and 60% of these firms have a strong interest in expanding their activities to new markets in the region. Yet, to be able to take advantage of new opportunities in the region, over 75% of MSMEs surveyed voiced their needs for tailored support to increase their skills and capabilities in digital marketing and in leveraging digital tools and technologies to access market information.

In response, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), in collaboration with Google and the International Trade Centre (ITC), has launched the Digital Export Enablement Programme (DEEP) for ASEAN Small Business to help MSMEs from across ASEAN member states grow their business internationally, by equipping them with digital export-relevant skills.

By delivering a series of trainings, access to digital platforms and practical workshops/sessions that will strengthen the capacity of MSMEs from 10 ASEAN markets, DEEP aims to facilitate a unique cross-border entrepreneurial journey for small businesses from Southeast Asia. The programme will guide small businesses, from identifying and comparing trade opportunities, understanding market access conditions, exploring trade finance options and the incoterms governing contracts, to sharpening their skills in digital marketing and successfully growing their business through e-commerce channels.

DEEP will be implemented with the support of the ICC Global Centres of Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia (CoE Jakarta Hub), as well as partnering business support organisations and government ministries, and will benefit MSMEs from the 10 ASEAN member states. Partners also include the ICC Academy.

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said: “This is a landmark programme for ICC Centres of Entrepreneurship in Asia-Pacific, a practical resource that will take SMEs to the next level. It will help SMEs from the ASEAN region increase their footprint in regional and global trade through the use of digital-export related tools made available by ICC CoE Jakarta, in collaboration with Google and the International Trade Centre. By launching this programme, we are helping SME owners, families and communities from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.”

Karan Bhatia, Vice President, Government Affairs and Public Policy at Google, said: “Digital technologies are creating opportunities for small businesses to trade and reach international markets in ways impossible a generation ago, but those opportunities are not always easy to seize. Google is excited to collaborate with the ICC and the ITC to develop the DEEP training curriculum to help address this gap in ASEAN — and better enable MSMEs to fully benefit from the growing digital economy.”  

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: “Small businesses in Southeast Asia need targeted training to identify, understand and use digital tools to expand to new markets in the region – and this collaboration with Google and ICC is designed to do that. Digital connectivity matters for development, and we have to invest in it if we’re serious about achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The programme will be delivered in two phases. In phase 1, there will be a training of trainers and will be followed up by the training of small businesses in phase 2. The curriculum is designed on the main challenges and opportunities identified in the 2022 survey on MSME Digital Exports in Southeast Asia conducted by ICC and Google. The programme is free of charge.

Interested trainers and small businesses can know more about the programme and apply to it here, latest by midnight, 26 February.