Digital push for small traders

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BERA: The setting up of Malaysian Family Digital Economy Centres (PEDi) can help create and empower small entrepreneurs and improve the socioeconomic status of the people, especially rural folk, says the Prime Minister.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) sector has been the pillar of the national economy, making up almost 1.2 million or 97.2% of total businesses as at the end of 2020.

However, he said most MSMEs were still less competitive and needed to be empowered especially after being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“PEDi is a one-stop centre to bring small entrepreneurs closer to the digital economy.

“Various programmes have been lined up to help these entrepreneurs kickstart their business or increase demand for their products.

“It is hoped that these small entrepreneurs will then be able to expand their business further with online access and by using e-commerce platforms.

“The ability of the small entrepreneurs to adapt to digitalisation and technological developments will enhance their efficiency and sustain their business in the long run,” he said at the launch of PEDi at Kampung Durian Tawar yesterday.

Also present at the launch was Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The Prime Minister said the small entrepreneur empowerment programme would be led by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) with cooperation from agencies and industry players, with the target of getting 800,000 small entrepreneurs to benefit from PEDi by 2025.

He said 873 existing PEDi would be upgraded to one-stop centres for rural digital economic activities, 37 new PEDi will be opened in the first quarter of 2022, and another 173 by the end of next year, bringing the total number of 1,083 PEDi to be operational nationwide.

Ismail Sabri, who is Bera MP, said 1,158 people from the constituency had registered as PEDi members to use the centre to attend entrepreneurship classes, adding that he was told that some businesses were now booming.

“The government is confident that the programme will encourage local communities to equip themselves with digital knowledge to compete in building a better future, especially those keen on venturing into business or entrepreneurship.

“It is also hoped that existing entrepreneurs would be able to increase their productivity, make more profit, sustain their businesses and at the same time, create job opportunities,” he said.

Apart from the MSMEs, Ismail Sabri said PEDi would also benefit 15.4 million people, mainly those in the B40 group and in rural areas, by exposing them to digital knowledge so that they too can participate in digital economic activities, Bernama reported.

This, he said, would bridge the urban-rural digital gap and lead to digital innovation to fulfil the country’s aspirations to develop the digital economy agenda.