Talents shortage and the disruptive effects of technology and economic uncertainty on the market are the top concerns of Malaysian small and medium enterprises. Dato’ William Ng, group publisher and editor-in-chief of Business Media International said this at the launch of the SME Solutions Expo 2016.

SME Solutions Expo 2016 is organised by SME Magazine, a publication of Business Media International and is open till 30 September at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Minister of International Trade and Industry II opened the exhibition and conference today.

“Contrary to popular belief, SMEs are not looking for more financing, but rather, to solve critical operational issues such as talent shortage and the changing market. On the one hand, we are seeing a freeze on the hiring of foreign workers, while on the other, local graduates prefer to work for larger and multinational companies. This severely limits the growth of our SMEs and is coming at a time when costs are rising and margins are razor-thin”, Ng said.

“This is further exacerbated by the rapidly shifting market. We are seeing how new technology and apps are disrupting traditional businesses, and many of our SMEs are simply not ready and not prepared to counter these threats. Combine this with the liberalisation of markets and regional competition, and we have a perfect storm brewing right now that could very well push one out of five SMEs out of business within the next one year”, he added.

In his opening address, Ong said, “SMEs should take advantage of the rise of China and the country’s road and belt initiatives. As Malaysia is strategically seated as a gateway to ASEAN, we stand a good change of benefitting from this. On top of that, we have been a top trading partner with China for many years, and many of our businessmen speak their language and understand the Chinese psyche”.

Help and Opportunities for SMEs

The SME Solutions Expo 2016 gathers over 100 vendors specialising in technology, market-access, capability development and financing for SMEs. The Expo is expected to attract 5,000 SME owners. Held annually over the past eight years, the Expo this year incorporates ITX Asia, a technology-focused exhibition to help businesses of all sizes to future proof their IT investments.

As is the case each year, SME Solutions Expo 2016 incorporates the SME CEO Forum, which allows SME owners to listen to and learn from industry experts and leaders. This year, speakers included Dato’ J Jayasiri, secretary-general of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ashram Ghazi, CEO of Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), Ai-Ling See, marketing director of Sage, Khoo Kah Jin of EXIM Bank and Nikhil Batra of IDC. The SME CEO Forum is sponsored by technology companies Sage and SAP.

“SMEs need to focus on collaboration. The days of going it alone are over. Technology and regional competition have made it impossible to work in isolation. The SME Solutions Expo and the SME CEO Forum are examples of opportunities where SMEs can meet with prospective partners and collaborators”, Ng said.

SME Solutions Expo 2016 and ITX Asia 2016 are being held on 29 and 30 September at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. Admission is free to trade visitors. For more information, visit and


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