Bridging the digital gap in rural Malaysia

By Datuk Hasnul Fadhly Hasan

 

FROM living the quiet kampung life to packing hundreds of orders through the night for customers, Rosliza Osman’s life has transformed dramatically in the past year.  

Rosliza is a former administrative assistant, who had to leave her job to take care of two young autistic children. On top of being a dedicated mom, she is part of a family business in the rural district Jasin, Melaka.

Azizjaafar Loyang is a small-scale “loyang” manufacturing company that started operating since the year 2000. To improve the family business, Rosliza was eager to bring the business online and to explore a website as a new avenue for sales. But Rosliza lacked the knowledge and training to bring her business to the next level.

It was no surprise that Rosliza was one of the first people that took part in MYNIC’s Program Latihan Penguasaan Pasaran Digital where she learned how to use the website she built to increase business visibility, market potentials, and ultimately sales. Thanks to MYNIC’s teachings, she managed to direct more customers to her website with search engine optimisation (SEO) and various online marketing techniques.

A few months later, Rosliza reported a 150% increase in sales revenue and started to earn RM10,000 per month compared to RM4,000 she earned before going online. She said that the festive periods are the busiest time of the year for the business, with sales amounting to RM50,000 in a month from international clients in Brunei, Singapore, Egypt, and Australia. This would not have been possible before she started the website. 

Through the profits earned over the years, Rosliza and her husband were able to scale up their business to meet the new market demand. Following the movement control order (MCO) in 2020 and the rise of home baking in the past few months, Rosliza is busier than ever.

Rosliza Osman and her husband

 

Internet is key

However, Rosliza’s business journey was anything but a cakewalk. When she first started venturing online, internet connectivity was slow and she struggled to upload social media posts on her old dial-up internet.

Rosliza’s struggle is not unique. It highlights the importance of bridging the digital gap in rural Malaysia. The Government is aware of this need and has pushed for telecommunications, including the internet, to be recognised as Malaysia’s third public utility alongside water and electricity.

The internet speeds in Jasin and other rural parts of Malaysia have dramatically improved thanks to the concerted Government effort to better internet connectivity in Malaysia, reinforcing the Government’s commitment towards transforming Malaysia into a digital economy.

Rosliza’s business success can be attributed to her being armed with the right knowledge and also having the proper resources to grow her business. This is why we must ensure that smaller towns are not left behind in Malaysia’s digital development.

Investing in rural entrepreneurs

From my visits to several rural towns in Malaysia, I have spoken to many entrepreneurs like Rosliza who are full of passion and ambition and are eager to become a part of Malaysia’s digital economy journey.

There is a strong need to invest and enable entrepreneurs in rural areas to be connected and explore the opportunities and potentially bring more rural professions, including farming, fishing, and traditional handicrafts, online. 

At MYNIC, we are committed to training rural entrepreneurs like Rosliza to set up their businesses online. With the training, they will gain the necessary skills to become competitive and spur digital transformation in Malaysia’s rural towns.

We are engaging with entrepreneurs from several states to teach small-scale business owners how to move their business online using a website and tools to understand trends to boost their business locally and internationally. 

For Rosliza, the improved internet speeds and training arrived at the right time. Her success makes me hopeful that more rural entrepreneurs will bring their businesses online in the quest for better economic prospects and a higher standard of living. Ultimately, this is what it takes to bring this great country to be a world-leading digital economy player. – Jan 24, 2021

 

Datuk Hasnul Fadhly Hasan is the CEO of MYNIC Bhd.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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