Around 1.3 million Thai small businesses have been affected by the impact of COVID-19—from clothes manufacturer Chu Su Mo in Chiang Mai, to coffee shops like Hidden Tree Garden in Samut Songkhram. These businesses are often at the heart of their communities, supporting local jobs and services. They’re also critical to the Thai economy as a whole, accounting for more than 90 percent of all businesses in the country. As Thailand rebuilds from the pandemic, we’re focused on supporting its business owners through the economic recovery.
Digital skills training in a time of need
Today, at our virtual Google for Thailand event, we launched Saphan Digital: a new Grow with Google program to help small businesses and other organisations learn digital skills and make the most of online opportunities. (In Thai, “Saphan” means bridge, and this program is designed to help bridge the digital gap between Thais who know how to use the internet and those that can’t.)
While the owners of Hidden Tree Cafe had to close during COVID-19, they kept posting photos of their drinks and desserts on Google My Business — meaning demand was strong as soon as they reopened.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen the importance of the internet in enabling businesses to continue operating—even if it’s something simple like letting customers know they’re still open, or offering information about online shopping and delivery options. Saphan Digital will equip business owners, NGOs and workers to use digital tools and set up a basic online presence, as well as provide online training courses in business and digital skills—covering topics like e-commerce and creating a digital storefront. After completing the training, people taking part will be able to “pair” with a small business or NGO to apply what they’ve learned.
The program is a partnership with Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce and backed by local and international businesses, with corporate partners like LnwShop and BentoWeb providing tools and mentoring.
Saphan is part of a bigger effort to ensure Thais can use technology with confidence—one we’re expanding to support the country’s coronavirus response.
Skills and education beyond COVID-19
Existing Google initiatives like Academy Bangkok are now offering online courses for graduates and experienced professionals, while The Asia Foundation’s Go Digital ASEAN program—supported by Google.org—is helping Thai micro-entrepreneurs in 20 provinces who wouldn’t otherwise have access to digital training. For students and teachers, we announced today that we’ll be integrating G Suite for Education into Thailand’s Digital Education Excellence Platform, meaning that all Thai public schools will be able to access Google’s education tools free of charge.
Our mission in Thailand is to “leave no Thai behind,” as we work with our partners to build a stronger, more inclusive digital economy. With these new initiatives, we’re reaffirming that commitment to this amazing country’s future.