Yunindita Prasidya, Jakarta – Social media giant Facebook is selecting local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) affected by the COVID-19 crisis to be recipients of a total of Rp 12.5 billion (US$887,688) in grants, according to the company's country director.
"In regard to the disbursement of SME funds, right now we are still selecting [the applicants]," Facebook Indonesia country director Pieter Lydian said during Facebook Summit Indonesia, which was held virtually on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would distribute US$100 million in cash grants and ad credits globally to small businesses affected by the pandemic.
The funds, which are to be distributed to some 30,000 eligible small businesses in more than 30 countries, can be spent on rent and operational costs or to finance customer outreach initiatives.
Small businesses account for more than 60 percent of Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP) and employ a majority of the labor force but have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis and the country's economic recession.
Indonesia's economy shrank by 3.49 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the third quarter this year, the second consecutive quarter of GDP contraction, marking the country's first recession since the 1998 Asian financial crisis. In the second quarter, the country's GDP contracted by 5.32 percent yoy.
In addition to the grant, Facebook Indonesia has forged partnerships with local businesses to help them survive and adapt to conditions during and, eventually, after the pandemic through virtual training programs, Pieter said.
"We do not only give support through funding, we also have virtual training programs on features, products, tips and tricks, as well as on every application available on our platform," he added. "The goal is to help promote local products."
Pieter said Facebook Indonesia's program for women entrepreneurs had had more than 14,000 participants so far and that the company planned to scale it up further.
Facebook is also targeting young entrepreneurs through its Instagram Academy series, which has reached more than 3,500 young entrepreneurs.
The program is part of the company's campaign, #TumbuhdiFacebook (#GrowonFacebook), a collaboration with the Trade Ministry in which Facebook Indonesia hosts virtual discussions on topics related to SMEs.
Facebook Indonesia vertical lead Aldo Rambie said during the summit that the ability to monetize content on Facebook and to make creative content were two challenges to small businesses' efforts to develop a digital strategy.
"What we have seen in terms of challenges is that, for our fellow SMEs, building a customer journey by using our platform with the goal of selling products [remains difficult]," Aldo said.
SMEs also needed to determine the best practices for advertising to reach their target audience, Aldo added.
Homegrown multiservice app company Gojek has also taken part in initiatives to help SMEs during the pandemic, including by connecting small businesses with content creators through its partnership with influencer marketing platform Narrators.
Narrators launched an app called Tokotown Pro as part of the partnership. The application connects merchants to content creators so they can collaborate to reach targeted buyers.
"Sixty-one percent of consumers say that micro influencers are more trusted when it comes to content. It's the same with millennials; 61 percent of them make decisions to purchase products when watching these digital influencers' [social media] accounts," Narrators founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Laurent Verrier said.
Multiservice app company Grab Indonesia introduced an app called GrabMerchant in June. The app is designed to be a one-stop service platform to allow micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), to digitally manage their operational hours, orders, employees, menu items and promotions.