Catapulting Rural Area Products To Global eCommerce Market

Far-reaching new move called the DESA Projectwith the aim of connecting rural areas to the global eCommerce boom,has been launched today in conjunction with the eCommerce Day2019 (9 & 10 Dec), held at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI)Tower.
The DESA Project –a digital economy programme –is a significant catalyst to Malaysia’s eCommerce as it enables the rural-based entrepreneur supply chain. With the support of Alibaba, Lazada,and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)–rural-based businesses, which includes food and agriculture products, are now able to participate and benefit from the digital economy.
In early 2009, clusters of rural entrepreneurs in China have opened online shops on Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace and are commonly referred to as Taobao Villages. Four Malaysian digital entrepreneurs–Anna Teo, KC Ooi, Ames Tan, and Sean Lee –founded the DESA Project after attending an Alibaba Netpreneur Training session in China that included visiting the Taobao Village concept.
“The trip to TaoBao village inspired us to form DESA Project. We believe eCommerce can help bring Malaysia’s rural products to the mainstream sphere,” shared Teo. With DESA Project, rural entrepreneurs will finally be able to join the digital economy.This is in-line with the government’s push to grow the ecommerce ecosystem and amplify the inclusivity agenda as per the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 initiative.
The products currently being marketed from the cottage industry and sold online through DESA Project, are all sourced from around the Bentong district, Pahang. These include organic rice by orang asli, raw ginger, ginger powder, soy sauce, groundnuts.
There is wide interest for locally produced finished goods, as demonstrated during a recent collaborative cross-border eCommerce effort–called MalaysiaWeek 2019.  In fact,small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from different industries also reported much success in achieving export growth and penetrating new markets in Europe, USA, Middle East and Asia. Some of these unique Malaysian products include Musang King durians, Bird’sNest, Malaysian-sourced and made coffee, baby products, locally produced food and beverage, and so forth.
To-date, some 100 Malaysian brands,featuring more than 800 products, have attracted much interest not only in the China market but also from other regions.
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the digital economy contributed 18.5 percent towards the national economy in 2018, translating to RM267.7 billion in revenue. In the same period, eCommerce contributed 8 percent or RM115.5 billion.
Gracing the launch, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Chief Executive Officer,Surina Shukri said,”As the Heart of Digital ASEAN and blessed with a rich diverse multicultural heritage, Malaysia is well positioned as a dynamic eCommerce and digital economy force. This latest development initiative will help our rural eCommerce to become a significant force within Malaysia’s digital economy aspirations.
”According to Brian Wong, Vice President of Global Initatives, Alibaba Group, “We are pleased to seehow the Taobao Village Model had inspired new initiatives in Malaysia. Alibaba Business School is committed to sharing know-how and relevant experiences in creating more inclusive digital communities,by supporting netrepreneurs to envision and execute new possibilities in the eCommerce landscape. Championing community-based efforts in rural areas through the DESA Project taps into Malaysia’s huge potential for digital economy growth, which is line with Alibaba Group’s mission to make it easy to do business anywhere.”
Lazada Malaysia Chief Executive Officer, Leo Chow added, “Our collaboration with DESA Project was one of the highlights for our highly successful 11.11 campaign. In fact, all products on the Desaku LazMall Flagship Store in Lazada sold out under 24 hours. This points to a demand for local heritage products and we look forward to continuously creating opportunities for underserved communities by connecting them with consumers through eCommerce.”
eCommerce Day2019, organised as part of the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap (NESR) to accelerate Malaysia’s eCommerce sector, enables businesses –both online and offline –to share knowledge and form valuable contacts.

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