I personally corroborate the recent idea of the government collaborating with the food delivery operators like Grab Food to bridge foods and drinks sold by Ramadan bazaar sellers to customers through online orders made via the smartphone app.
But, the government has to ensure that no sellers will be left unnoticed in making the unprecedented online Ramadan bazaar a reality in this coming fasting month.
We can’t deny the fact that there are people who run small businesses like selling mixed rice or traditional kueh to make a living but they don’t use a smartphone as a medium of interaction.
Most of them are old-school that every thing they do in their lives is done manually without being digitally helped by any smartphone app that needs to be downloaded first before using it.
This group of sellers has to be immediately identified and closely assisted by the related ministries together with government agencies like Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and local governments of every state.
By early identifying them, the government can be ready with a certain financial allocation in providing the group of sellers with affordable smartphones that can be used for them to receive notifications of customers’ orders for the e-bazaar.
If directly providing them with a smartphone is difficult to manage, the government via its related ministries, especially Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry and Communication and Multimedia Ministry, can affiliate with prominent telco corporations in renting smartphones for eligible bazaar sellers.
Rental cost for the smartphones has to be reasonable around RM50-RM70 per month.
Introducing the so-called “rent to get ordered” programme will also automatically exclude those who already have a decent or still-usable smartphone from applying for it as they will surely avoid taking their money out of their pockets for the phone rental.
The government has to be aware that implementing such entrepreneurial aid can be frustrating if applicants are not being honestly true about possessing a smartphone as they will act like an old-school SMS user as if they never heard of digital stuff like Grab Food or Food Panda.
Not to forget, the sellers should also be guided on how to use the app to take orders and read special notes sent by customers through the delivery app.
The guidance must be done comprehensively in ensuring that they can be fully ready in benefiting the digital platform for them to sell and make money in this holy Ramadan.
I hope that if the federal and state governments are very serious about getting the digital Ramadan bazaar done, they should start working towards reaching the registered bazaar or night-market sellers who have no smartphones and get their names told to the ministries that would possibly in-charge of the suggested programme if it is to be heard by the government.
* Amerul Azry Abdul Aziz is an independent writer who now views politics as something that can be researched.