Author Archives: Stephanie Davis

New support for Southeast Asia’s COVID-19 response

In many parts of Southeast Asia and beyond, the impact of COVID-19 remains severe. More than 18 months after the virus first began spreading, high caseloads and new variants are putting pressure on health systems. It’s a difficult time for people across the region, and heartbreaking for those who’ve lost loved ones.  


Vaccines offer a path to stability and recovery, and Google is working closely with governments, health authorities and nonprofits as inoculation programs roll out. But there’s also an urgent need for the equipment that health workers depend on as they battle the pandemic and care for patients on the front lines. 


Today, through our philanthropic arm, Google.org, we’re announcing a new, $2.5 million grant to help UNICEF and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) — as well as partners on the ground — scale up the COVID-19 response in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Pakistan.This will provide critical, life-saving support to the people who need it most.


In addition to funding this immediate medical response, Google.org will provide a further $5 million in ad grants so local government agencies and organizations like UNICEF can run public information campaigns — ensuring important health messages reach the widest possible audience.   


The new Google.org funds are part of Google’s broader contribution to the response to COVID across Asia-Pacific, including in Southeast Asia. In partnership with health authorities, we’re sharing the latest health information and supporting news sources people can trust. We’re also contributing in every way we can to Southeast Asia’s economic recovery, from providing small business owners and workers with digital skills training to fostering the next generation of startup founders. Through a separate Google.org grant, we’re helping ASEAN, the Asia Foundation and local nonprofits close digital divides in marginalized communities


And we continue to be humbled and inspired by the generosity of Googlers. Our global employee giving campaign — matched by Google.org and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — has helped fully vaccinate more than 1 million people globally. Here in Southeast Asia, Googlers have donated $80,000 and counting for local nonprofits’ COVID response efforts in Indonesia and Vietnam.  


We’re sending our best wishes for safety and wellbeing to everyone affected by the pandemic throughout the region. Looking ahead, we’ll keep standing with the communities we serve — and working with our partners to shape a sustainable recovery for the long term. 


A wave of change for Southeast Asia’s internet economy

Over the past five years, Southeast Asia’s internet economy has experienced tremendous growth and change. But what we’ve seen in 2020 marks the biggest shift yet, as the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Company shows.


The report—At Full Velocity: Resilient and Racing Ahead—outlines how Southeast Asians navigating the coronavirus pandemic are using the internet in more ways and on a larger scale than ever before. 


Since the beginning of the year, 40 million people in Southeast Asia have connected to the internet for the first time (compared to 10 million in 2019 and 100 million between 2015 and 2019). With technology providing vital access to online shopping, food, healthcare, education, finance and entertainment, more than one in every three digital service consumers started using a new type of online service due to COVID-19. And of those new digital consumers, nine out of 10 plan to keep using at least one digital service beyond the pandemic.

Despite a global economic slowdown, and the severe impact on travel in particular, the gross merchandise value of the regional internet economy has held steady at an estimated $100 billion in 2020, and is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025. 


Technology’s vital role during the crisis


Eight out of ten people across the region said technology helped them get through the virus—and they used the internet for a wide range of reasons. In most of the sectors we looked at, new users made up more than 30 percent of total, but education, groceries and loans saw the biggest jumps. 

New digital service consumers by sector

The pandemic also saw demand for (and access to) digital services continue to expand beyond Southeast Asia’s biggest cities. In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, more than half the people new to digital services live in non-metropolitan areas. This is encouraging progress, given that the urban-rural digital divide is one of the main challenges the report has highlighted over recent years. 


The changing shape of the regional internet economy


Not surprisingly, e-commerce is growing faster than we could have imagined before the crisis: from $38 billion in value last year to $62 billion this year, and expected to reach $172 billion by 2025. Digital financial services are becoming more important, too: the average proportion of cash transactions declined from 48 percent of the total pre-COVID to 37 percent post-COVID. From here, the report finds that the annual value of total digital payment transactions across Southeast Asia will almost double to $1.2 trillion by 2025.
Digital financial service adoption

At the same time, new sectors are emerging, especially in education and health technology. 

At the peak of the pandemic, leading health apps were being used four times as much as they were before the pandemic and education technology app installations had increased three-fold.


Greater focus for businesses, cautious optimism for investors


Global uncertainty means Southeast Asia’s major technology companies are focusing on strengthening their business and becoming profitable, rather than on expanding into new areas. Funding for companies valued at more than $1 billion has dropped from $5.6 billion in 2019 to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2020. 


Overall, investors are cautiously optimistic. The number of deals has kept growing and we’re starting to see investors look towards new areas of opportunity in financial services, education and healthcare. For startups with strong ideas and business plans, there’s an available pool of capital worth almost $12 billion.

Investment funds available

Building for the opportunity ahead


COVID-19 has changed Southeast Asians’ daily lives in fundamental ways. The digital adoption that was projected to happen over several years has accelerated. And with its young, diverse and mobile-first population, and a host of talented start-ups, Southeast Asia can help shape the future of technology in Asia-Pacific and beyond. 


Like everywhere else in the world, Southeast Asia faces significant challenges in rebuilding from the pandemic—but there is such immense opportunity if we can help the region realise its potential. Working with our partners across the region, all of us at Google are committed to playing our part— fostering startups, expanding digital skills, and making the internet more helpful and accessible in every way we can. We’re ready to help build a strong, diverse and inclusive internet economy for every Southeast Asian.

A wave of change for Southeast Asia’s internet economy

Over the past five years, Southeast Asia’s internet economy has experienced tremendous growth and change. But what we’ve seen in 2020 marks the biggest shift yet, as the e-Conomy SEA 2020 report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Company shows.


The report—At Full Velocity: Resilient and Racing Ahead—outlines how Southeast Asians navigating the coronavirus pandemic are using the internet in more ways and on a larger scale than ever before. 


Since the beginning of the year, 40 million people in Southeast Asia have connected to the internet for the first time (compared to 10 million in 2019 and 100 million between 2015 and 2019). With technology providing vital access to online shopping, food, healthcare, education, finance and entertainment, more than one in every three digital service consumers started using a new type of online service due to COVID-19. And of those new digital consumers, nine out of 10 plan to keep using at least one digital service beyond the pandemic.

Despite a global economic slowdown, and the severe impact on travel in particular, the gross merchandise value of the regional internet economy has held steady at an estimated $100 billion in 2020, and is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025. 


Technology’s vital role during the crisis


Eight out of ten people across the region said technology helped them get through the virus—and they used the internet for a wide range of reasons. In most of the sectors we looked at, new users made up more than 30 percent of total, but education, groceries and loans saw the biggest jumps. 

New digital service consumers by sector

The pandemic also saw demand for (and access to) digital services continue to expand beyond Southeast Asia’s biggest cities. In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, more than half the people new to digital services live in non-metropolitan areas. This is encouraging progress, given that the urban-rural digital divide is one of the main challenges the report has highlighted over recent years. 


The changing shape of the regional internet economy


Not surprisingly, e-commerce is growing faster than we could have imagined before the crisis: from $38 billion in value last year to $62 billion this year, and expected to reach $172 billion by 2025. Digital financial services are becoming more important, too: the average proportion of cash transactions declined from 48 percent of the total pre-COVID to 37 percent post-COVID. From here, the report finds that the annual value of total digital payment transactions across Southeast Asia will almost double to $1.2 trillion by 2025.
Digital financial service adoption

At the same time, new sectors are emerging, especially in education and health technology. 

At the peak of the pandemic, leading health apps were being used four times as much as they were before the pandemic and education technology app installations had increased three-fold.


Greater focus for businesses, cautious optimism for investors


Global uncertainty means Southeast Asia’s major technology companies are focusing on strengthening their business and becoming profitable, rather than on expanding into new areas. Funding for companies valued at more than $1 billion has dropped from $5.6 billion in 2019 to an estimated $3.5 billion in 2020. 


Overall, investors are cautiously optimistic. The number of deals has kept growing and we’re starting to see investors look towards new areas of opportunity in financial services, education and healthcare. For startups with strong ideas and business plans, there’s an available pool of capital worth almost $12 billion.

Investment funds available

Building for the opportunity ahead


COVID-19 has changed Southeast Asians’ daily lives in fundamental ways. The digital adoption that was projected to happen over several years has accelerated. And with its young, diverse and mobile-first population, and a host of talented start-ups, Southeast Asia can help shape the future of technology in Asia-Pacific and beyond. 


Like everywhere else in the world, Southeast Asia faces significant challenges in rebuilding from the pandemic—but there is such immense opportunity if we can help the region realise its potential. Working with our partners across the region, all of us at Google are committed to playing our part— fostering startups, expanding digital skills, and making the internet more helpful and accessible in every way we can. We’re ready to help build a strong, diverse and inclusive internet economy for every Southeast Asian.

A Google.org grant to help Southeast Asia’s businesses

Noraeri, the breadwinner of her family, runs Chu Su Mo: a shop selling traditional clothes to her local community in the Baan Huay e-Khang village of Chiangmai, Thailand. For years, trade has been steady but now, with coronavirus restrictions in place, she’s having to find new ways to run her business—experimenting with online advertising to reach more customers.


Chu So Mo is one of the 64 million micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Southeast Asia that have been affected by the pandemic. Not only are these businesses integral to their communities--providing vital services and supporting jobs in the local economy—they’re also critical to the region’s economic growth. We want to help them get the right digital knowledge so they, like Noraeri, can adapt and ultimately rebuild.  


Through a $3.3 million grant from Google.org, we’re providing funding to help The Asia Foundation support its nonprofit partners as they extend digital skills training to 200,000 people in Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The grant will fund training in marginalized communities, including programs for women, underemployed young people, and those with disabilities.


With the backing of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Coordinating Committee on MSMEs (ACCMSME)---and in partnership with organizations like Thai Fund Foundation in Thailand and Pusat Pengembagan Sumberdaya Wanita in Indonesia—The Asia Foundation’s programs will give business owners and workers in all 10 ASEAN countries the skills and tools they need for the internet economy. The programs will also provide specific guidance on how to withstand and recover from the economic impact of COVID-19—for example, by helping businesses understand the delivery options available in their area so they can ship their products to their customers no matter where they are.  


This new Google.org grant builds on our 2018 commitment to train three million SME workers across Southeast Asia.  It’s also part of our global efforts to support small businesses and others affected by COVID-19. In Southeast Asia in particular, the importance of digital skillscontinues to grow as millions of people gain access to the internet each year and traditional businesses move online. With the support of ACCMSME, The Asia Foundation and its partners, we hope more MSMEs will be able to succeed, grow, and create opportunity for their local economies and communities.