TIME editors evaluated nominees each on key factors, including impact, innovation, ambition, and success, and we’re proud to be selected for the work we’re doing in helping to build a more inclusive digital economy for Southeast Asia.
But our efforts to build the digital economy isn’t just about doing good. When you enable small businesses to go online and give them the tools to be more productive, it raises wages and living standards that benefit the economy overall. It also benefits Grab, because more demand for digital services expands the market for our offerings.
Optimising small businesses for the digital era
The pandemic prompted many small businesses to go online. Just in 2022, we brought 685,000 small businesses online.
We provided training and tools to help them run their businesses more efficiently. Our first-ever GrabMerchant Centre was announced as a one-stop hub that provides 1-on-1 business consultation services to small businesses to help them grow.
With smartphones as the default internet tool, we put a self-serve marketing function in the GrabMerchant app. Now even the smallest entrepreneur can get insights on their customer base and design a marketing campaign to reach their desired audience.
This is only the start of a shift to support small businesses as they shift from traditional business models to optimising for the digital era. We aim to offer a bigger range of tools for businesses, from helping them run their online operations more efficiently, to connecting with offline customers, to obtaining financing that they can use to invest and grow.
Digital banking bridging the gap where conventional services fall short
People in the region also face barriers to accessing banking infrastructure that we take for granted elsewhere; more than half of people who live in this region don’t have bank accounts, or easy access to modern banking services—the nearest ATM in a rural area can be over an hour’s drive away.
Many of our partners in the region remain underserved by traditional banks, where they don’t qualify for credit products.
Today 30 per cent of our active partners have an ongoing credit product from Grab—so that they can invest in growing their businesses, in education, or pay for emergency needs.
We will extend financial inclusion to more in Southeast Asia by launching our Indonesia and Malaysia digibanks.
This will provide local micro-SMEs and gig economy workers with new banking products adapted to their needs, such as shorter loan tenures and flexible repayment schedules.
Fueling Southeast Asia's growing digital economy
The addressable market is sizable. With an estimated 70 per cent of the workforce in Southeast Asia made of informal workers, being able to lower the barriers to accessing these products is a powerful lever to pull in enabling economic growth across the region.
We know that creating economic equity builds societal stability, by allowing people to access the same opportunities so they can reach their full potential. With the region’s digital economy expected to grow twice as fast as the GDP in most Southeast Asian countries, we believe more inclusive participation in the digital economy can be the great equaliser.
GrabMaps named on two Fast Company awards lists
This accolade follows two more honours we received this year, when we were named to Fast Company's prestigious annual lists for Most Innovative Companies and World Changing Ideas of 2023.
Most Innovative Companies featured companies which are reshaping industries and culture, by finding innovative local solutions with global implications. The companies which made the World Changing ideas list, were nominated by Fast Company editors for making the world more equitable, accessible, and sustainable.