B35m digital fund for SMEs

B35m digital fund for SMEs

The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) is allocating 35 million baht for a digital transformation fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) embrace digital technology.

The fund aims to improve SME productivity and competitiveness at a time of digital disruption.

"The digital transformation fund offers grants to SMEs to encourage them to experience digital technologies at a faster pace," said Chatchai Khunpitiluck, senior executive vice-president of Depa.

Digital technology will be used to streamline analogue-to-digital conversion, integrate working processes and build business models for a sustainable future.

Depa will divide the fund into three classes: "mini" digital transformation for 400 firms with a grant of 10,000 baht for each; digital transformation for 80 firms with a grant of 50,000 baht each; and large-scale project for 10 firms with a grant of 1 million baht each.

Mr Chatchai said retail and service businesses like restaurants are the main target because they are facing tech disruption and competition from large corporations.

"SMEs with under 200 million baht in revenue can apply for help from the fund," he said, adding that applications will be assessed by the fund committee.

To promote and raise awareness of digital transformation, Depa will hold roadshows in nine provinces: Chon Buri, Rayong, Phuket, Songkhla, Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen and Ubon Ratchathani.

Mr Chatchai said the grants will stimulate SMEs to make good decisions when investing in new technology, but some measures such as point-of-sale implementation must be approved by the agency.

"Some SMEs are worried about the use of online accounting software, as they have multiple accounts and are more familiar with manual or traditional systems," he said.

He said the use of technology can help SMEs improve productivity and efficiency.

SMEs that receive the grant have to buy from qualified suppliers of the Depa network to ensure that the grant is used in accordance with the stated purpose.

Those that procure ISO 29110-certified local software can enjoy certain tax privileges.

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