Embracing Change Crucial For Bumiputera Entrepreneurs To Stay Ahead

mbracing change is not just a necessity – it’s a strategic imperative for bumiputera entrepreneurs   looking to remain relevant and resilient in the ever-changing landscape.

To thrive in the marketplace, experts said they should step outside their comfort zone by developing innovative strategies, seize new opportunities for growth and innovation, diversify their products in line with market trends and leverage the latest technology to their advantage.

 “Bumiputera entrepreneurs should stay agile, adaptable and forward-thinking to thrive amidst constant change by producing more halal products to meet the growing demand of the halal market,” said Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics and Financial Studies, Faculty of Business and Management, Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Dr Mohd Rahim Khamis.

  However, the number of bumiputera entrepreneurs who are actively engaged in the halal industry is still low compared to non-bumiputera, he told Bernama.

Dr Mohd Rahim Khamis.

He quoted Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Dr Ameer Ali Mydin as saying early last month, out of 9,162 halal-certified companies in 2023, only 3,562 are bumiputera-owned compared to 5,600 non-bumiputera companies.

Noting that bumiputera participation in the halal industry is still lagging behind non-bumiputera, Rahim said bumiputera companies should be more aggressive by staying ahead of the curve in the halal sector.

To provide wider business opportunities for bumiputera entrepreneurs, he said the government in collaboration with various agencies had organised various expositions and carnivals, among others, Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS), the Malaysian Products Carnival, International Women’s Entrepreneurship Expo and the Usahawan Nusantara Festival.

"All these activities are aimed at assisting local entrepreneurs especially bumiputera to explore new markets for their products including at the international level.

“With this approach, bumiputera entrepreneurs can establish business links not only with investors in the domestic market but also internationally. Through such networking, bumiputera entrepreneurs can gain wider reach for their products,” he said.



On leveraging the digital application, Mohd Rahim said, it is not limited to production, but covers other market aspects as well as buying and selling transactions.

He said the government through agencies such as the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is responsible for promoting the use of digital technology as part of efforts to drive innovation, productivity and maximise competitive advantage among entrepreneurs.

“Bumiputera entrepreneurs must tap the   opportunities to learn ways to pivot their traditional business activities to digital platforms. Indeed, digital transformation will open the door to new opportunities, and eventually helping them produce sustainable products,” he said.

On Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call for all government departments, agencies and government-linked companies (GLCs) to purchase souvenirs for official government events based on local artisanal products at the closing ceremony of the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress (KEB 2024) recently, he opined that the move would enhance public awareness toward local products.

 “This is the time to prove our support for local products. Don’t overrate anything foreign and forget that locally made products are even better and are comparable to foreign goods.

“Perhaps all this while we didn’t know much of products produced by bumiputera entrepreneurs as the latter lacked the financial resources to promote their goods,” he said, adding that the initiative would augur well for promoting their products in the increasingly competitive market.

Such opportunity, he added, would ensure these enterprises become more sustainable and competitive while motivating them to produce more high quality products.



According to Mohd Rahim, bumiputera companies which have established a foothold locally with significant inroads abroad would inspire others to take a similar path to success.

“Indirectly, this will reduce our reliance on imported products, hence stimulating economic growth for the nation. With more opportunities available for bumiputera entrepreneurs, local production will be enhanced and driving growth both for the local community and the country.

 “This scenario is important for all entrepreneurs to produce their goods in the market. With a strong local market presence, they are well-positioned to gain global recognition for their products,” he said.

He said the higher or global recognition allows bumiputera entrepreneurs to widen their customer base and hence strengthening their product presence in the market.

 “With a strong product presence, looking for business partners for investment to ensure business sustainability would be easy. At the same time, bumiputera entrepreneurs will be able to strengthen their integrity and increase public awareness toward their products.

“As such bumiputera entrepreneurs should be focused and stay committed to producing quality and unique products as well as diversifying their products. By focusing on these aspects, this would help strengthen the entrepreneur’s integrity,” he said.

However, Mohd Rahim said it would be difficult for the Prime Minister’s call to be made a policy given that Malaysia is a multiracial country.

“"If it is made a policy, it could create a negative perception from non-bumiputera. But if the government intends to turn it into a policy, it should be carefully planned and has to be clearly explained to all levels of the community.

 “This is because we don’t want a policy with negative impact on the community which can create an economic imbalance among the races.

 “We only want to see each policy that is implemented should provide positive impact for the people and the nation. Don’t create policies that are biased as they can create an imbalance   among the people,” he said.



On the proposal by Mydin’s Ameer to mandate the purchase of 70 per cent halal and Bumiputera products for official government programmes such as essential items for flood victims, food baskets and Jualan Rahmah,Mohd Rahim said the proposal would bring a long way in boosting production of bumiputera companies.

However, he said the implementation process should be clear and easy to understand.

 “This is because when the government makes 70 per cent as mandatory, it means that every time an assistance programme is to be implemented, it should comply with the 70 per cent criteria for bumiputera products. If the products produced by the entrepreneurs are limited in the market, how will the criteria be met?.

“It will also be a constraint for those participating in the assistance programme. To implement it, we need to look at the capability of bumiputera entrepreneurs themselves in fulfilling the 70 per cent criteria. Are they able to increase their production capacity?” he said.

Mohd Rahim said upon implementation, the proposal is expected to generate lucrative returns for bumiputera companies following increased production and demand for the products.

"With increased demand in the market through the implementation of the programmes, production has to be stepped up to cope with rising demand. Otherwise, a market imbalance will emerge.

 “With increased production, businesses will indirectly reap profits. As a result, the companies will continue to thrive and achieve sustainable long-term growth,” he added.



Mohd Rahim regarded KEB2024 (held from Feb 29 to March 2) as the best platform for the government to raise the dignity and status of bumiputera entrepreneurs to be on par with other players.

He said the bumiputera economic status today is not something that the community can be proud of as it needs to be strengthened.

 “An example is the issue on non-finance (property) and equity ownership among bumiputera. The Department of Valuation and Property Services (JPPH) in its 2015 report said bumiputera property ownership was at 39.5 per cent only compared to 53.4 per cent for non-bumiputera while bumiputera ownership in the commercial sector was very low at 9.8 per cent compared to 46 per cent for non-bumiputera,” he shared.

According to media reports, in 2019, only 40 per cent of almost one million companies registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), are owned by Malay and other bumiputera entrepreneurs.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi in an interview with Bernama ahead of KEB 2024 said as of last January, 29.8 per cent or 357,863 of the total number of registered Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (PMKS) were owned by bumiputera.

Commenting on the issue, Mohd Rahim said the situation could have been attributed to the bumiputera’s over-reliance on government assistance in their endeavour to become entrepreneurs.

 “As entrepreneurs, they should reduce their dependence on government assistance as the driving force to success comes from their efforts, skills and their own initiative to seize the opportunities despite the various forms of support available from the government.

 “The failure and the low participation from bumiputera-owned companies are due to several factors, such as lack of training and skills, motivation and interest to tap new opportunities besides being constrained by scarce financial resources to grow their business they have ventured in,” he said.

Meanwhile an entrepreneur, Intan Hazlina Shamsul Badri described the proposal by the prime minister at the Congress as a good move especially given the current economic challenges.

 “Focus should be given to bumiputera entrepreneurs especially those from the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with growth potential but are impeded by capital as well as opportunities.

 “Besides that unequal competition is also one of the factors why small enterprises are able to compete with established companies in addition to being faced with the challenges of opportunities, capital as well as bureaucratic red-tape which hampers bumiputera participation,” said the owner of anakkita.cookies, who has 20 PWD (Persons with Disabilities) staff at her bakery.

Intan Hazlina hopes that KEB 2024 can provide a platform and opportunity for wider participation for bumiputera entrepreneurs in business.

 “Perhaps after this, the government can make it a requirement for agencies or GLCs to appoint bumiputera entrepreneurs as their business partners for projects or low-tender values.

"In fact, GLCs have been playing this pivotal role   for a long time through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Similarly, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), the leading agency responsible for the socio-economic development of bumiputera, has played a significant role in advancing the bumiputera agenda, especially in assisting bumiputera students to further their studies.

 “Bumiputera entrepreneurs should not merely focus on business people in the mainstream alone. It should be divided into entrepreneurs from among the rural, asnaf (poor), mualaf (Muslim converts), orang asli and PWD,” she said.

The first KEB, held on June 7, 1965, and officially opened by then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, among others, led to the establishment of MARA, in which has become a special entity to map the direction and progress of the Malays and Bumiputera in all sectors, especially in economy, education and social.


Translated by Salbiah Said



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