SME Bank is implementing several initiatives as part of its digital transformation programme, in line with the government’s economic stimulus packages to help small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) weather the Covid-19 crisis. They include up to RM2.1 billion in funds allocated for the SME Go scheme and SME Technology Transformation Fund (STTF) under the government’s Penjana economic recovery plan. The funds will be available from next month.

SME Bank group president and chief executive officer Aria Putera Ismail said under the SME Go scheme, financing support would be provided for G2 and G3 contractors, who were awarded small government projects under the economic stimulus package, with an aggregate fund allocation of RM1.6 billion. “SME Bank will pay directly to the sub-contractors and suppliers based on the presentation of verified invoices and claims. No deposit and upfront collateral will be required. “Under the scheme, the financing limit offered is up to 100 per cent of the contract cost,” he told the New Straits Times. Aria Putera said RM500 million had been allocated for STTF to assist entrepreneurs to swiftly adopt digital technology and automation to penetrate new markets with quality offerings. “The asset to be financed under STTF shall be the collateral for the financing. The bank can obtain the guarantee schemes from Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd or Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan. “With a financing limit up to a maximum of RM3 million, STTF will be disbursed directly to the supplier or vendor upon verification of invoices submitted to the bank.”

Aria Putera said the SME Go and STTF schemes were part of SME Bank’s response under Penjana to provide financial support to eligible SMEs affected by the pandemic. This was in addition to the Prihatin initiatives announced earlier. The schemes are in addition to the distribution of the Special Relief Facility (SRF), a fund made available by Bank Negara from March 6 to Dec 31.

As a development financial institution under the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry, Aria Putera said SME Bank would always support the government’s efforts to help local businesses resolve their financial burden by providing assistance to them and their customers. He said the bank had launched two digital initiatives under the National SME Digital Platform, namely ScoreXcess for start-ups and micro-entrepreneurs, and Odela. ScoreXcess is a portal that processes micro-financing applications and runs the pre-approval process before the applications are submitted to participating financial agencies. Up to June 16, ScoreXcess had received 961 applications with two approved for RM1.38 million, and 73 applications submitted to the bank’s agency partners for RM18.19 million of financing. The platform’s participating partners are Perbadanan Nasional Bhd, Tekun Nasional and Commerze Capital Sdn Bhd. SME Bank is looking into collaborating with more agencies to join ScoreXcess to ensure that more SMEs have access to financing, especially the micro- and small entrepreneur segments.

Aria Putera said besides benefiting from the ScoreXcess platform, SMEs could also leverage Odela, a one-stop e-commerce platform developed by SME Bank for B2B businesses, which was launched in December. Odela tapped new technologies and was custom-designed to enable entrepreneurs to make transactions, facilitate exchange, foster innovation and partnership across vast ecosystems. The initiative would transform the country’s SMEs as it was part of the beyond financing services provided by SME Bank and its subsidiary, the Centre for Entrepreneur Development and Research Sdn Bhd (Cedar), he said. “Odela has recorded more than RM440,000 worth of transactions. We aim to reach RM9.8 billion worth of transactions within five years.”

Aria Putera said in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the bank had offered the automatic loan moratorium to eligible customers since February, as well as rent deferment for tenants of factory lots at its Entrepreneur Premises Complex nationwide.
SME Bank is offering a number of financing packages under Bank Negara’s SRF, Automation and Digitalisation Facility, Agrofood Facility (AF) and All Economic Sectors Facility (AES). “SME Bank has approved RM503 million under SRF and the fund has been fully utilised. Up to June 12, the bank has approved seven applications worth RM4.68 million under AF.” SME Bank’s subsidiary Cedar, a specialised entrepreneurial coaching centre, is assisting companies by disseminating information and tips on how to manage business under the current situation, besides assisting them in planning to venture into social media platforms.
Cedar has coached more than 43,000 participants in its entrepreneurial coaching sessions since its inception in 2013.

Aria Putera said this year was bound to be a challenging one. However, there were still opportunities for SMEs to pull through. “For those SMEs that manage to navigate through the current crisis, there will be new opportunities that could emerge in the long term,” he said. SME Bank had assisted more than 18,361 SMEs since its inception in 2005, with financing of RM33.36 billion.

Source: NST


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