By Soon Li Wei
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – When the Movement Control Order was enforced in March, Mohd Aizat Mohamed and his wife Nur Adilah Hambali had to stop operating their burger stall.
As it was their sole source of income, they soon ran out of money to even buy food for them to eat. To earn some money, Mohd Aizat, 35, and Nur Adilah, 32, decided to set up a temporary burger stall outside the block of flats in Segambut where they lived but they knew they faced the risk of being evicted by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) enforcement officers.
Fortunately for the couple, their application for a business lot at a trading site at Jalan Silang here, under DBKL’s Federal Territory Young Entrepreneurs Programme, was approved and they were only required to pay a monthly rental of RM250 for the lot.
Mohd Aizat said he is grateful to the government for offering various initiatives to relieve the financial burden of the B40 group, especially the urban poor like him and his wife who are finding it difficult to find a job and wish to run their own petty business.
He is also happy that Budget 2021, which was tabled at the Dewan Rakyat by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz on Nov 6, has proposed various initiatives to help young entrepreneurs to improve their businesses and financial status.
“The initiatives provided by Tekun Nasional and PUNB (Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd) will also help those people who lost their jobs during the MCO to start their own small businesses,” he told Bernama.
Among the initiatives announced by Tengku Zafrul to assist micro and small businesses and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is the Bumiputera Sustainable Scheme (Skim Lestari Bumi) financing facility under which SME Bank will provide funds amounting to RM300 million to encourage bumiputera micro and small businesses to move up the value chain by transforming and improving their businesses.
Another scheme the National Supply Chain Finance Platform, dubbed JanaNiaga, will assist SMEs – that supply to the government or government-linked companies – experiencing cash flow problems due to long invoice payment periods and help SMEs to apply for loans from financial institutions. EXIM Bank would provide RM300 million for this initiative.
Tengku Zafrul also said that out of the RM4.6 billion allocated for the empowerment of bumiputera entrepreneurs, RM510 million would be allocated to bumiputera SMEs and micro SMEs through Tekun Nasional and PUNB.
In addition, microcredit financing worth nearly RM1.2 billion will be provided through Tekun Nasional, PUNB, Agrobank, Bank Simpanan Nasional and other financial institutions. This includes RM110 million to the Micro Enterprises Facility under Bank Negara Malaysia to encourage entrepreneurship among gig workers and the self-employed.
Food truck operator Siti Rafitah Rakimi, 35, welcomed the initiatives but hoped that the financing would be extended to them at a lower interest rate so that many of them who were forced to close down their businesses during the MCO can revive their operations.
“During the MCO, many food truck operators were stuck as most people stayed at home. Some of them resorted to selling their food online while others sold their food trucks,” she said.
She said in general many young food truck entrepreneurs have been getting encouraging response from the public who are especially attracted to their western dishes.
“They are usually very creative especially in promoting their businesses via social media platforms and their customers are mainly the young generation,” she said, hoping that the Budget 2021 initiatives would encourage more youths to go into entrepreneurship.
CREATE SPECIAL WEBSITE
Federation of Malay Hawkers and Petty Traders Association of Malaysia secretary-general Mohd Zamri Mohamed hoped that the young generation, particularly those who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, would benefit from the budget initiatives.
“Many hawkers and night market traders have been badly hit by the pandemic, as well as the stringent conditions stipulated by the local authorities which they have to comply with in order to operate their businesses,” he said, adding that they can shift their operations to online platforms where they can sell their products and also offer delivery services.
He said the financing facilities, such as those offered by Tekun Nasional, will be appropriate for those who are trying their hand in business and wish to embark on a food and beverage-based enterprise that only requires a small capital.
Mohd Zamri also hoped that agencies such as Tekun Nasional and PUNB would simplify and speed up the application process for the proposed financing as many existing businesses that are affected by the pandemic are in urgent need of capital injections.
He also suggested that a special website be created for general reference and to facilitate communication between the applicants and implementing agencies.
MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR ENTREPRENEURS
Prof Dr Nik Maheran Nik Muhammad, who is senior director at Universiti Malaysia Kelantan’s Entrepreneurship Institute, said the government or government-linked companies should provide more business opportunities for entrepreneurs whose businesses were impacted by the MCO.
“Although various financing avenues and tax exemptions have been provided for them under Budget 2021, they will not be able to generate economic growth if there’s no potential for business,” she said.
She also said that the microcredit schemes proposed by the budget should be provided in the form of soft loans to enable the entrepreneurs to earn a profit first before making repayments.
She said in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, youths are looking for business opportunities due to the job market’s dim prospects and the economic slowdown.
“Many of them want to start their own ventures whether online or otherwise. My advice to them is to become a knowledgeable entrepreneur who can leverage existing and innovative technologies, as well as be creative and bold enough to come out of their comfort zone. There’s no point in becoming an entrepreneur just because of the need to be one,” she added.
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysian National News Agency
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