02/04/2024 09:25 AM

By Erda Khursyiah Basir

Bumiputera entrepreneurs need to quickly master digital technology skills if they want to attain their economic empowerment goals, said Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia youth wing chairman Hisham Abdul Hamid.

Commenting on the outcome of the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress (KEB) held recently, he said one of the key challenges in empowering the bumiputera economy is getting them to master emerging technologies so that they can adapt to the digital economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0).

“It's not just a question of understanding the latest technologies but also about applying them in entrepreneurial aspects and being innovative enough to create added value in the new economy. It's important to assess and adapt existing economic empowerment programmes based on current and future needs.

“This includes ensuring the programmes implemented are relevant to global economic trends and new technologies, and focusing on the development of entrepreneurial skills and innovation, especially among young bumiputera entrepreneurs," he told Bernama recently.

KEB 2024, held between Feb 29 and March 2, was organised by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development through Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), and the Ministry of Economy. The congress is a platform to formulate policies that can help raise the socioeconomic status of bumiputeras.

Hisham said socioeconomic factors play a crucial role in determining the capabilities of bumiputeras in the digital economy era.

Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim delivering his speech during closing of the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress (KEB) held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC).

Pointing to KEB 2024, he said it stressed the importance of improving access to high-quality education and capital for young bumiputera entrepreneurs.

“Quality education not only opens up career opportunities but also empowers young bumiputera entrepreneurs to be innovative,” he said, adding better access to capital will enable them to turn business ideas into reality.

He also said improving their access to education and vocational training in fields relevant to the future economy is key to overcoming barriers, namely the shortage of skills and technical capabilities, that prevent young bumiputeras from seizing opportunities in high-innovation industries.

Touching on the issue of inequality in business opportunities, Hisham said in the context of KEB 2024, “There is a need for initiatives that help increase the ownership of assets and resources by young bumiputera entrepreneurs.”

Such initiatives include financial literacy programmes, investment opportunities and access to capital to help reduce the wealth gap and empower their economy so that they can contribute more significantly to the national economy.



Hisham said in keeping with the outcome of KEB 2024, one of the measures that can be taken to empower the bumiputera economy is developing an ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship among young entrepreneurs, improves their access to technical education and training, and strengthens mentorship networks.

The government, meanwhile, needs to continue strengthening policies that promote access to education, technology and capital, and promoting collaboration between the public and private sectors.

“Through this approach, young bumiputera entrepreneurs will not only be prepared to face future challenges but also play a crucial role in shaping a competitive Malaysian economy,” he said.

Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia youth wing chairman Hisham Abdul Hamid.

Hisham also opined that one of the cultural and perceptual challenges faced by some bumiputeras in pursuing economic opportunities is the “fear of failure” mentality, adding this   “narrative” needs to be changed immediately through education and awareness.

Malaysia Cyber Consumer Association deputy president Azrul Zafri Azmi, meanwhile, said bumiputera entrepreneurs are now facing more competition in the wake of changes in global markets and the digital technology boom as these are making it easier for consumers to access products and services globally.

“Entrepreneurs, therefore, need to remain vigilant and be ready to make changes in terms of their business patterns and models, and marketing techniques,” he said.

He said in empowering the bumiputera economy, the use of the latest technologies in e-commerce and social commerce will provide them access to broader markets.  

“Besides that, the use of artificial intelligence (AI), enterprise resource planning and big data analytic technologies will not only enhance their operational capabilities but also reduce their operating costs, accelerate business output and increase profits.

“These technologies will also enhance product and service innovation. For example, through big data and AI, businesses can better understand customer needs and tailor their offerings to meet ever-changing market demands,” he added.



Azrul Zafri said with the existence of social media, promoting and marketing products and services are no longer a problem for businesses.

“These days, it’s very easy for entrepreneurs to promote their businesses at a reasonable cost. Through data from social media, they can analyse user behavioural data and subsequently conduct more personalised marketing campaigns focusing on specific customer targets,” he said.

He said since digital technology makes it easier for businesses to collaborate with others, bumiputera entrepreneurs should seize the opportunity to expand their networks and distribution channels by teaming up with distributors, stockists and business representatives in various locations.

Commenting on the effectiveness of special training and education programmes developed to help bumiputeras to apply technology in their businesses, Azrul Zafri said many young bumiputera entrepreneurs have become successful by leveraging technology in their business operations and marketing activities.

“We need to share more success stories of bumiputera entrepreneurs who seized new business opportunities driven by advancing technologies like AI. This way, other bumiputeras will understand the importance and benefits of adopting new technologies to enhance their business performance,” he added.



Acknowledging that financial constraints and lack of know-how in the implementation of certain technologies are the main challenges faced by most bumiputera entrepreneurs, Azrul Zafri said collaborations with technology-related companies can help address these issues.

According to him, strategic plans developed by the government or industry bodies are crucial in preparing bumiputera businesses for the digital era.

“The success of these plans depends on effective implementation, continuous monitoring and the ability to adapt to rapid technological changes and market demands.

“Through a comprehensive and collaborative approach, bumiputera businesses can be strengthened to leverage technology and enhance their competitiveness in the global economy. For example, the government and its agencies like MARA can provide special incentives for bumiputera entrepreneurs to adopt technology in their businesses,” he said.

Malaysia Cyber Consumer Association deputy president Azrul Zafri Azmi.

The government, through Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, has already implemented various digital transformation initiatives for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The initiatives are aimed at increasing awareness and digital capabilities of bumiputera SMEs through the provision of training, guidance and access to digital consumerism.

He added the implementation of the National Broadband Initiative and the creation of high-technology business zones in various areas are an essential prerequisite for businesses to use technology. 

“Empowering bumiputeras in the field of technology and IT can significantly improve the management processes and operational efficiency of their businesses, which will have a positive impact on Malaysia’s economy as a whole.

“Through adopting the latest technologies such as big data analytics, AI and automation, bumiputera entrepreneurs can also reduce their business operation costs while increasing customer satisfaction. This not only strengthens the competitive position of bumiputera businesses in the global market but also stimulates innovation and economic growth,” he said.



At the 2024 Bumiputera Economic Congress (KEB), which took place at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre from Feb 29 to March 2, over 80 resolutions were outlined as part of the bumiputera economic empowerment agenda, resulting from the collaborative efforts conducted several months prior to the congress.

The congress – organised by the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development through Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), and the Ministry of Economy – was attended by more than 3,000 participants including representatives from the Malay, Kadazan, Dusun, Iban and Dayak chambers of commerce, and representatives from the Orang Asli community.

At the official closing ceremony of the congress, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced various new initiatives to empower the bumiputera economy including allocating RM1 billion to cultivate a new generation of bumiputera entrepreneurs and establishing an endowment fund, Tabung Wakaf MARA MADANI, with a launching grant of RM100 million. The fund targets to accumulate RM1 billion within two years.

Bernama reported that a total of 74 resolutions and 150 programmes outlined by 10 KEB 2024 Groups were finalised during the Performance and Implementation Management Committee Meeting (steering committee) on March 15.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who also chairs the steering committee, said these resolutions and programmes have been compiled under the Bumiputera Economic Transformation through three goals: socio-economic justice, nation-state sustainability, and national prosperity and well-being of the people.


Translated by Rema Nambiar



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