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Grab launches new programme to help small businesses go and grow online in the ‘new normal’

The Grab Small Business Booster Programme includes tools and initiatives to help offline businesses digitalise, and to help Grab merchant-partners increase their visibility online and improve business operations.

  • The Grab Small Business Booster Programme includes tools and initiatives to help offline businesses digitalise, and to help Grab merchant-partners increase their visibility online and improve business operations
  • Launches 2nd edition of Grab for Good: Social Impact Report with COVID-19 focus

SINGAPORE, 8 JUNE –  Grab today announced a Small Business Booster Programme aimed at helping small businesses in Southeast Asia adapt to the COVID-19 new normal. It includes tools and initiatives to make it easier for offline businesses to make the shift online, and helps those already on the Grab platform to expand their visibility and adapt their operations to an increasingly digital-reliant world. The programme extends Grab’s long-term commitment to digitalise traditional and small businesses and ensure they are included in the growing digital economy.

“COVID-19 has accelerated change.  We have seen dependency on online services grow exponentially almost overnight. This is spurring innovation in Southeast Asia, but is also putting us at risk of widening the digital divide. Small businesses make up the backbone of Southeast Asia’s economy, but the vast majority of these businesses are offline. They will need to embrace technology and digitalise or risk falling further behind.  Through our Small Business Booster Programme, we hope to help small businesses navigate this new normal. We will draw on our technology and reach to find new ways of doing business that can inclusively support everyone,” said Hooi Ling Tan, co-founder, Grab.

Helping Southeast Asia’s small businesses adapt to a COVID-19 new normal 

Prolonged social distancing measures and changes in consumer behaviours have led to an elevated demand for digital services that is expected to be permanent even as movement restrictions ease. Consumers are likely to remain cautious about venturing out, and many companies are envisioning more of their workforce working from home permanently. Yet only 34% of small businesses in Southeast Asia have an online presence[1], and only half of Singapore’s SMBs have a digitalisation strategy in place[2].

The Small Business Booster Programme aims to facilitate the digitalisation of small businesses – either by giving them a digital shopfront on the Grab platform or through e-payments integration. Amongst small businesses that are already on the Grab platform, an internal survey found that 76% would like more support in increasing their online visibility, and 56% want tools to help them innovate and provide insights to grow their business. The programme seeks to address their needs in these areas. 

Key components of the programme include:

1. GrabMerchant: An all-in-one, self-serve merchant platform for business owners to help grow their online customer base, optimise their operations, while keeping costs in check. Key features[3] include:

    1. Self-onboarding[4]: Food businesses can build an online store, set up cashless payment options, and be up and running on Grab in 24 hours.
    2. Insights: The Insights tool gives merchants a view into their sales, their operations, their customers’ purchasing habits, and the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns. It allows them to spot and respond quickly to new opportunities such as creating bundled meals based on what customers are ordering, and equips them to address operational inefficiencies.
    3. Ads: An ads creation tool that empowers merchant-partners to build their own food banner and food search ads, and track the ad performance in real-time.
    4. Supplies[5]: Grab merchant-partners can purchase supplies and ingredients at wholesale rates, and enjoy the convenience of next-day delivery.

GrabMerchant will be available to merchant-partners as an app and a web portal. The app will roll out progressively in Singapore from mid-June, followed by the web portal from July 2020.

2. Offline to Online (O2O) Merchant Support Programme: Grab is enabling offline businesses to go online via partnerships with e-commerce solution providers that allow for easy set up of online stores with GrabPay integration. This will first roll out in Singapore, with Shopmatic and other partners as a start, followed by Malaysia and the Philippines in the coming weeks.

This builds on an earlier programme by Grab which empowers social selling for small businesses.  During COVID-19, many merchants turned to social media and instant messaging platforms to sell their products, but lacked an easy way to receive payments. Grab’s Remote GrabPay Link solution gives merchants a URL that they can send to customers to make payment, with the merchants receiving GrabPay credits instantly. Within the first few weeks of launch in Singapore and Malaysia, Grab has already seen over 2,500 merchant-partners using this feature.

3. Merchant Discovery: The feature aims to increase discoverability for businesses and drive more foot traffic to their physical stores as Singapore moves out of the circuit breaker period and more businesses look to reopen. From early Q3 2020, Grab users will be able to view merchants near them through the Nearby Merchants widget on the Grab app. Businesses who sign up for Merchant Discovery can also choose to push promotions to customers who are nearby to draw them to their stores and encourage spending. Grab will also roll out additional customer loyalty plans for merchant-partners in Q3 2020, to help small businesses increase sales and improve customer retention. While retail footfall is not expected to return to pre-COVID-19 days soon, this will also help businesses build capabilities for the long-run. 

4. US$3.5 million in free ads for Southeast Asia small businesses: The “Homegrown Heroes” initiative will see Grab creating personalised ads for approximately 6,000 local businesses in 28 cities across 8 countries, and feature them on the most prominent spaces within the app for a 5-week period starting in July. Grab will cover the cost and resources required to produce these marketing materials. Merchants who previously purchased banner ads on GrabFood homepage saw a 300% return on advertising spend.  

Additionally in Singapore, Grab has embarked on a series of campaigns where it works with its community of consumers to create ads for their favourite merchants. Grab will then feature the ads on its most prominent channels such as the in-app home screen, as well as Grab’s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages. Merchants in Singapore who were featured on some of these channels before have collectively seen an average of 20% increase in orders week-on-week. 

Grab for Good: More than 100 partner initiatives launched in response to COVID-19; US$8.5 billion contributed to SEA’s economy

The second edition of the Grab for Good: Social Impact Report[6] launched today focuses on COVID-19’s impact and Grab’s response. 

Between March and April 2020, Grab committed over US$40 million to partner relief efforts and rolled out over 100 initiatives to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on drivers- and delivery-partners, frontliners and communities. In Singapore alone, more than 20 initiatives were launched to support our driver and delivery partners, merchants, frontliners and communities in Singapore that were most impacted by Covid-19.  

Between March and April 2020, over 78,000 merchants were onboarded to the Grab platform. Small businesses saw a 21% increase in online revenue through Grab during this period. Grab also created earning opportunities for over 115,000 individuals who signed up as driver or delivery-partners during their period. 

The report also found that through driver-, delivery-, merchant-, and agent-partner incomes and sales generated through the Grab platform, Grab contributed an estimated US$8.5 billion to Southeast Asia’s economy in the 12 months leading up to March 2020. 

“COVID-19 will require exceptional collaborative efforts from all levels of society to overcome. Scientists are working on a vaccine. Policymakers are finding ways to bolster their countries’ economies. Everyday folk are helping to flatten the curve by practicing social distancing. Private companies like Grab are using our platform and tech to find ways for even the smallest micro-entrepreneur or business to continue sustaining their livelihoods in these challenging times. The future is uncertain, but Southeast Asia is a community that knows how to face adversity, and thrive,” added Tan. 

Grab also further announces partnerships with governments across Southeast Asia to connect farmers and other rural entrepreneurs to the digital economy, more information on this can be found within the appendix.


[1]Study on MSMEs Participation in the Digital Economy in ASEAN, Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, 2019
[2]Over half of SMEs still in early stages of digital maturity: report, Singapore Business Review, 2019
[3]Features will roll out in phases across the region
[4]Available in Indonesia first
[5]Available in Indonesia first
[6]An overview of Singapore-specific data can be found in the accompanying infographic within the appendix



1. Grab Singapore Social Impact Highlight: Fighting Covid-19 Together


2. Initiatives in the region:
Partnering with Southeast Asia’s governments to connect rural entrepreneurs to the digital economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation, and Grab has been actively working with local governments across Southeast Asia to ensure that traditional ecosystems are not left behind. This includes initiatives in Indonesia and Malaysia to bring wet market and Ramadan Bazaar sellers on to the Grab platform. 

Grab is expanding on this focus, working with governments in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand to connect rural entrepreneurs to the digital economy. These partnerships aim to expand economic opportunities for farmers and agricultural producers across the region by enabling them to earn directly from sales off the Grab platform, at the same time ease concerns around food security.

Grab’s government partnerships to help rural entrepreneurs digitalise:

  • Indonesia: Through a partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Pasar Mitra Tani – a state-owned grocery store that sources produce directly from farmers – customers can order these goods through the GrabAssistant service and have them delivered to their homes. This shortens the distribution chain and helps farmers earn more.  Grab is also working with fishermen in Ambon to market and sell their goods to customers in Jakarta through GrabMart. 
  • Malaysia: Piloting an initiative with the Ministry of Rural Development (KPLB) via eLokal’s DesaMall programme, to help 5,000 rural entrepreneurs digitalise their business, sell their goods and earn income opportunities through GrabMart and GrabFood.
  • Philippines: Grab is partnering with the Department of Agriculture for the ‘Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita’ Program whereby customers across Metro Manila can purchase fresh produce and meats from the Department of Agriculture’s eKadiwa website and have them delivered through GrabExpress.
  • Thailand: Grab is working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to help Thai farmers from three provinces market their surplus of fruits such as mango, lychee, mangosteen, banana through ‘Farmer’s Market’ on GrabMart.

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