Going digital is a must for MSMEs in agro sector during post COVID-19 era

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Micro, small, and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) account for 90 per cent of all businesses and half of the world’s jobs, according to the World Bank Group. Due to COVID-19, many of these businesses are struggling to make ends meet, facing new hardships. There is an urgent need to reimagine how MSMEs buy, sell, and operate. The government is planning to provide loans to MSMEs in the hope that the loans would benefit them amid-COVID-19.
At the same time, some experts have pointed out that just loan is not helpful for the our MSMEs to overcome their challenges, and they also need technology, market penetration and skillful labours to bring their businesses back on the right track to development amidst- and post-COVID-19.
When it comes to providing loans to MSME, we should see the agricultural sector first because our MSMEs, including smallholder farmers, are among the drivers of the domestic economy. In the agricultural sector, most MSMEs can be found in post-harvest sector as development partners for farmers. In this challenging time, providing MSMEs in agricultural sector and smallholder farmers with credit to invest in their farms isn’t just a good measure, it can also be a good business opportunity.
Meanwhile, smallholder farmers frequently do not have physical collateral or other sources of income that can help then obtain loans.
There are risks involved, but there are strategies that can be implemented to reduce risk and make farm finance a successful product for micro-finance institutions.
Another sector we should focus is the digitalization. Promoting the digitalization of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is necessary to drive inclusive growth because MSMEs that can leverage digital tools will more easily be able to rebuild and relaunch their businesses. Going digital is not optional — it’s essential.
Digital technologies can no longer be tools of the elite or those in urban hubs. To weather the coronavirus crisis, small enterprises must expand and gain access to markets beyond their own communities. In a March Covid-19 communique, ASEAN economic ministers called for digital trade and technologies to keep businesses operating, especially MSMEs. Over 80 per cent of mobile phone users in Myanmar own a smartphone, and this is a perfect opportunity to leapfrog development in our country’s digital sector. We can enable the MSMEs and the people to receive the necessary skills and technology by creating a digitally connected society.
But, the effective digitization of MSMEs will require the collaboration of industry players to develop effective digital platforms, offer training for MSMEs to leverage these platforms, and provide financial tools and resources to help them plan for the future.

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