The Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (SAMENTA) has celebrated its 35th Anniversary with a cake cutting ceremony graced by Tan Sri Noh Omar, Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Co-operatives (Medac), Rizal Nainy, CEO of SME Corp and Datuk William Ng, chairman of SAMENTA at the SME CEO Forum 2021, held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
As Malaysia’s oldest association for SMEs, SAMENTA continues to champion the development of SMEs in Malaysia and address the pain points of SMEs through a quadripartite pillar of policy consultation, market access, business amplification, and capacity building.
“This pandemic has once again emphasised both the importance of SMEs in supporting the economy and in driving employment. Yet, the same pandemic has shown us just how fragile our SME ecosystem is. In 2020 alone, our SMEs suffered a loss of RM 40.7 billion,” Ng said.
“When times are good, SMEs are generally expected to support the growth of our economy and play a docile role in following the directions of the policymakers. But in difficult times, SMEs are often the last to receive support. This is why associations such as SAMENTA is important and needed as a voice for our fragmented SME sector.”
According to him, SAMENTA was the first association to resist the call for a full lockdown, dubbed MCO 3.0 in June, preferring instead stricter self-regulation and a mass test and isolate approach.
“We were also the first association to call for an end to the segregation of essential and non-essential sectors in the re-opening of the economy. We subsequently were also among those who pushed for an early end of the various lockdowns so that Malaysians can resume their livelihood just as the country continues to work hard to save lives”, Ng said.
Established in 1986 in Penang, SAMENTA was formed by a group of SMEs supporting the then nascent electronics industry. Fast forward to 35 years later, the association has grown into the largest SME association in the country, with some 3,000 members, and with independent chapters covering the north, south and central regions of Malaysia.
Commenting on the current state of the SME sector, Ng said: “SMEs are a critical juncture right now. Our productivity and competitiveness have suffered due to the pandemic and rapid changes in technology and the market. As such, moving forward, our efforts will be to get our SMEs to adopt digitalisation rapidly, move further into automation, and understand the new standards for ESG (environmental, social and governance).”
Meanwhile, Noh said in his speech that the Medac and agencies under its supervision are committed and determined to revive the local SMEs to ensure the well-being of the people.
The ministry will ensure that the affected SMEs will receive government assistance as soon as possible. “Medac officers have been instructed to ensure all agencies expedite the application assessment and address each complaint from the SMEs.
“Among the initiatives carried out by Medac are putting aside the credit reference made by CTOS and CCRIS in any government financial assistance package for the next six months,” he said.
Medac’s impact study on the entrepreneurship scene in Malaysia this year has found that 37,415 businesses ceased operations, of which 70 per cent or 26,007 were SMEs.
Therefore, he urged the SMEs to take advantage of the various benefits and opportunities provided by the government through Budget 2022 which has allocated a total of RM14.2 billion for them.
“They must also be positive in adapting to the new normal by building their business in line with this new setup, understand consumer behaviour and grab the opportunities in new industries,” he said.
The event also witnessed a number of media organisations being accorded the Friends of SMEs award or “Anugerah Sahabat PKS” as recognitions for their efforts in voicing out the plight of SMEs and consistent support during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The media has given a voice to the SMEs and this award is to show that it has not gone unnoticed. The SMEs do appreciate it. Without this voice, we would not have been able to focus the government’s energy and attention on the plight of the SMEs,” said Ng.
The local news outlets which received the award were Free Malaysia Today, Sin Chew Daily, Berita Harian and Bernama.
The Platinum sponsor for the SME CEO Forum was Intel while the Gold sponsors were Boost and Awantech. Affin Bank was a Silver sponsor and SME Bank came on board as a Bronze sponsor.