A recent survey by the SME Corporation Malaysia has revealed that SMEs continue to be adversely impacted by COVID-19. While the worst of the restrictions have been lifted and business begins to slowly pick up once again, only 17 percent of SMEs in Malaysia have reported that their businesses would recover within the next three months.
The survey, which included 982 respondents, reveals that the majority of businesses within the 17 percent who expect to see a recovery are from the food and beverage sector, with SMEs in the tourism and related sectors the least optimistic, as they foresee a recovery period beyond 12 months.
This makes sense as the food and beverage industry is one of the essential business sectors that were allowed to continue operations during the nation’s lockdown period. The sector’s transition to delivery apps also assisted in ensuring f&b businesses retained some form of revenue.
Within the textile, wholesale and retail sectors, 69 percent of respondents indicated the belief that their business could recover within the next three to twelve months.
However, the respondents to the survey collectively believe that business recovery can only succeed if they continue to receive aid in the form of schemes such as Malaysia’s National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA). Introduced in June, the 35 billion ringgit (US$8.1 billion) stimulus package is primarily aimed at helping businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
As Malaysia heads forward towards recovery, SMEs will continue to face challenges. Chief among them will be how quickly and agilely SMEs adopt differentiated strategies to survive in the ‘new normal’.
Malaysia’s Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, also urged SMEs to embrace digitalisation for their business operations, develop a business continuity plan, and work closely with financial institutions to manage their cash positions.