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SEBA 2023 Central Grand was a night of celebration for many in the local entrepreneurship and SME community. 30 individuals were spotlighted, along with 10 companies.

Wins, culture, and the spirit of unity were championed. Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative, Ewon Benedick, and Khairy Jamaluddin were in attendance, and mid-event, the latter graced the audience with a succinct speech.

In it, he highlighted three things for SMEs to keep in mind as we collectively move towards the turn of the year.

We live on “the cusp of tremendous change”, Khairy described, and in order to take advantage of that, SMEs must shape their thinking appropriately. 

“When we think of expansion, when we think of our business, do think about it in the context of the greater world.”

“This government today has emphasised and stressed the importance of the New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP) 2030, that means we want to plug our businesses into the global supply chain.”

The NIMP 2030 encompasses six key goals that aim to elevate Malaysia’s economic standing:

  • Increase economic complexity
  • Create high-value job opportunities
  • Extend domestic linkages
  • Develop new and existing clusters
  • Improve inclusivity
  • Enhance ESG practices

Giving some stats, Khairy said that in 2000, Malaysia’s trade to GDP ratio was at 220%, but that has since dropped to 140% as of this year.

“What that means is that we need to export more, we need to do business with the rest of the world. We need to figure out how to position Malaysian businesses in the global supply chain and whatever’s happening around the world.”

Image Credit: SEBA

His second point was about digital transformation.

The government needs to make sure that we have the incentives and grants in order to drive local SMEs towards digital transformation, but they are not the only ones with responsibility.

SMEs must be willing to invest in digital transformation too. “This is really going to be a gamechanger for businesses and governments,” Khairy added.

The third thing that he believes needs to be emphasised more is skills development.

“Today, the Minister of Economy presented a white paper on the progressive wage model. And what that means is that we’re going to incentivise companies to pay a little bit more, but that comes with the promise that productivity goes up.” 

“If productivity does not go up and you force people to pay more salaries, it isn’t going to work. So, we need to invest more in upskilling, we need to celebrate micro-credentialing, we need to make sure that we bridge the gap between what we’re producing and our universities and colleges and our schools with what the industry requires,” Khairy said.

Micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) comprise 97% of Malaysian companies, and they typically face challenges in increasing wages, Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said. 

Therefore, the progressive wage model will focus on MSMEs, and aim to aid Malaysian employees earning less than RM5,000 monthly.

Khairy ended his sharing by reiterating that three things are the drivers which will elevate not just the Malaysian economy but also SMEs.

Nitesh Malani, founder and chairman of Entrepreneurship Foundation Malaysia (YUM), the NGO behind SEBA, gifting Khairy his plaque / Image Credit: SEBA

SMEs are crucial in terms of number and quantity, but he would like to see them become more crucial too in terms of value-add, productivity, and competitiveness.

While many of SEBA’s SME awardees are not yet media-famous names, they have the potential to become household names in the future. 

With the right kind of support from the government, stakeholders, and ecosystem builders like SEBA, we could see more local SMEs take Malaysia to the global stage the way SEBA alumni like Aerodyne and Carsome have.

  • Learn more about SEBA here.
  • Read more Malaysian startup stories here.

Featured Image Credit: SEBA

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Vulcan Post aims to be the knowledge hub of Singapore and Malaysia.

© 2021 GRVTY Media Pte. Ltd.
(UEN 201431998C.)