SMEs need to strengthen their basics and be more vigilant of internal and external factors
Over 98.5 percent of all businesses in Malaysia are SMEs. Often hailed as unsung heroes, the backbone of the economy, and even as employers of the last resort, the importance of SMEs to the country’s economy cannot be overstated. Yet, in 2021, SMEs only grew by 1% versus 4.4% among larger companies.
This is underscored by a minuscule growth in labour productivity among SMEs of a mere 0.1% in 2021, or 6.4% lower than in 2019. This shows that despite all the optimism shown in the public, SMEs’ performance remains subdued despite the economy re-opening.
What ails our SMEs? Why haven’t our SMEs caught up with the larger players in terms of growth and recovery?
These were the questions asked during the SME CEO Forum 2022, an annual mega gathering of SMEs organised by Business Media International and the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia or SAMENTA, on 9 August 2022 in Kuala Lumpur.
Some 22 speakers and panellists took turns to address the pain points of SMEs and the challenges holding them back, including on issues such as supply chain, technology and digitalization, financing and sustainability.
SME Corp CEO, Rizal Nainy officiated the opening ceremony of the SME CEO Forum 2022, along with Datuk William Ng, managing director of Business Media International cum chairman of SAMENTA.
The highlight of the SME CEO Forum 2022 was a spotlight session titled ‘Harnessing the Power of SMEs in the Endemic’ featuring Dr. Ong Kian Ming and Wong Chen, Members of Parliament of Bangi and Subang respectively.
“We are engaging with the government to address the issues of supply chain disruption and development, labour shortage and the spiralling costs of raw materials. But while we await for stronger intervention and help from the government, SMEs must act now to digitalise and automate their businesses, while adopting best practices in talent management and ESG,” Ng said.
“SMEs need to understand that at the end of the day, it is up to them to help themselves. The pandemic has been a wake-up call for all SMEs. Moving forward, we will need to strengthen our basics and be more vigilant of internal and external factors that will affect our productivity and profitability.”
The SME CEO Forum 2022 is supported by Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau, Asean Retail-Chain Franchise Federation, Bakertilly Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce (DPMMKL), Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KLSICCI), Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MICCI) and Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC).
The event’s sponsors include Affin Bank, Gsparx, SNS Network and Acer.
Business Media International is a subsidiary of SGX-listed Audience Analytics Ltd, a regional leader in promoting growth for companies in Asia through data-driven brands and initiatives.