Google helps small businesses in Thailand go digital

Photo by Edward Lim

Travel restrictions and curfews have been devastating Thailand’s 1.3 million small businesses. With international tourism far from being normalised, many are reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and struggling for survival.

Google has launched Saphan Digital to help small businesses and other organisations learn digital skills and make the most of online opportunities. “Saphan”, which means bridge in Thai, is what this programme is about — bridging the digital gap between Thais who know how to use the internet and those that cannot.

“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,” wrote Jackie Wang, Country Manager of Google Thailand in a blog post.

Leave no Thai behind

Saphan Digital aims to equip business owners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and workers to use digital tools and set up a basic online presence. It also offers online training in business and digital skills, covering topics such as e-commerce and creating a digital storefront. Upon completion, participants will be paired with a small business or NGO to apply what they have learned.

The programme is run in partnership with Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce and backed by local and international businesses with corporate partners such as LnwShop and BentoWeb providing tools and mentoring.

“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,” wrote Wang.