The GMBO programme provides web clinics for SMEs as well as consultations to help them take advantage of various online tools.
TWO weeks ago, the day after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak tabled the 2013 Budget at Dewan Rakyat, a friend sent me a WhatsApp message, informing me of her intention to quit her job.
I wondered what made her so resolute to leave her secure, permanent job in about six months' time, and spend more time with her tween kids.
No, her husband didn't receive a job offer with a five-digit monthly salary. In fact, her quitting the job would halve their household earnings that barely covers mortgage, car loans, petrol, tuition fees, medical insurances, utilities, phone bills, money sent to their respective parents, the ever increasing grocery bill and various expenses for the family.
This creative, multi-talented friend, who is currently drafting her resignation letter, is close to realising her dream of being independent, empowered and making money from her creativity and talents.
Yes, the 2013 Budget is the cornerstone of her life-changing decision. She finally had the nerves to plunge into online business after she heard in the Budget about the RM1,000 grant for small entrepreneurs, particularly women to promote their businesses under the Get Malaysian Business Online (GMBO) programme.
The amount of grant is not that big and the programme is not new, but at least the Budget announcement has stirred up awareness among women, either employed, unemployed, homemakers or currently in small or micro businesses, to join the online bandwagon and capture a bigger customer base within Malaysia and beyond.
The GMBO programme was launched in late 2011 as part of the entry-point projects under the Economic Transformation Programme. Spearheaded by Google Malaysia in partnership with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the scheme aims to bring at least 50,000 Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) online and grow their businesses via the Internet.
Currently, less than 15 per cent of the 700,000 SMEs have online presence.
The GMBO programme provides web clinics for SMEs as well as consultations to help them take advantage of various online tools. For those who want to build a more sophisticated website, the programme will facilitate the transition.
Under the programme, entrepreneurs will get free easy to update, customised website; free ".com.my" web address for the first 10,000 participants and only RM23 for subsequent participants; ongoing tips and education; as well as AdWords promotional credit with expert phone support.
By April this year, 6,000 entrepreneurs have registered under the GMBO scheme.
Aspiring entrepreneurs, home-based entrepreneurs or small brick and mortar businesses who want to take part in the programme, can visit www.getmybusinessonline.com.my to register and set up a website.
For those who are still toying with the idea of starting a business, they may want to visit the website and understand more about the support that it provides.
The GMBO website also features success stories of entrepreneurs in various areas such as halal frozen food, Chinese herbal medicine, Sarawak layered cake and local delicacies, customised heels and clutches, and even laundry business. See how their businesses flourish after they set up their own websites.
For those who don't feel confident enough to quit their jobs, they still have the option of doing part-time online business. The beauty of an Internet business is that you can do it outside office hours. After all, consumers in other parts of the world are just starting their day when we here are having our dinner.
As for my friend, who currently bakes made-to-order cakes and cookies during her free time for neighbours and friends, can now expand her client base to the whole of Klang Valley and beyond.
She can also test the global market for the Muslim women scarfs, head gears and dresses which so far, she designed and made for herself. Her much admired creative bead and sequin designs would definitely appeal to customers worldwide, including Malaysians living abroad.
I can imagine our regular chats or text messages, which sometimes include her complaints about incessant meetings at work, horrible clients, difficult colleagues and demanding supervisors will soon be replaced by exciting stories about her new online venture, and of course, overseas clients!