UCSI University hosts SME Forum

 

The forum featured Y.B. Senator Dato' Ir. Donald Lim Siang Chai, Deputy Minister of the Finance Ministry in Malaysia as the keynote speaker and other prominent industry leaders like Dato' Ghazali Dato' Mohd Yusoff, founding life member of the Malaysian Institute of Directors, former board member of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and executive chairman of Nusantara Technologies Sdn. Bhd. and Dr Robert Bong, vice-chancellor of UCSI University.

"SMEs play an important role in our country's economy and are an important source of economic growth," said Dato' Lim, who went on to explain two recent master plans developed by the government to boost the SME sector.

"Last year, we launched two significant master plans – namely the Capital Market Masterplan 2 and the Financial Sector Masterplan – in April and December, respectively."

He then went on to describe several initiatives under the masterplans that aimed to identify growth gaps in the market with a specific focus on SME growth and to expand the distribution and reach of banking services to SMEs, among others.

"I have seen how much the SME sector has evolved – it still needs a lot of encouragement. As you know, SMEs are a vital component of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) that Malaysia is working to improve," said Dato' Ghazali.

"I have been involved in many university-industry collaborations and I must say that it's a privilege to be a part of today's industrial programme."

Echoing Dato' Ghazali's sentiment, Dr Bong agreed that "such knowledge-sharing platforms benefit the growth of the SME sector", adding that it was one more step "towards transforming Malaysia into a high-income nation."

"Extensive research studies and discussion forums have been conducted on SME-related subjects," said Dr Bong in his speech.

"Typically, these researches and forums focus on the challenges and opportunities of SMEs based on how the SMEs are being defined – by size and classified by industry."

"I would like to believe that SMEs can be viewed as the collective entrepreneurial spirit of the society and innovative engine of growth for the economy," he opined.

"As such, a more macro approach to understanding the entire ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation of a particular location would help us understand the challenges and opportunities for SMEs better."

In line with government efforts to strengthen SMEs on the local front, a line-up of key representatives from the Malaysian government and investment holding companies – such as SME Corp, SMI Association of Malaysia and Allianz Malaysia Berhad – helmed a special two-hour panel discussion titled "Leveraging Opportunities for SMEs to Move Forward: Where are the Monies?"

In the discussion, the panelists focused on current issues in the industry and various business solutions to help SMEs tackle their business challenges.

By highlighting various programmes and investment strategies for SMEs – including certification programmes, loans, financial packages, government incentives and insurance packages, to name a few – the session provided an excellent platform for SMEs to be aware of and capitalise on such opportunities.