Seeking businesses for a better world - News | The Star Online


Seeking businesses for a better world

(From left) Kornreich, Liew and Khor will be part of the judging panel for the challenge.

(From left) Kornreich, Liew and Khor will be part of the judging panel for the challenge.

HOW WILL your business create value and impact society in the long run?

This is the question all young entrepreneurs looking to participate in the coming Alliance Bank SME Innovation Challenge should pose to themselves say the judges of the event.

The challenge returns for the third year, and this time it comes with a total of RM1mil in prize money.

Eco World Development Group Bhd chairman Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, who serves as the chairman for the judging panel, said they were keen to find people passionate about what they did.

“A track record is not important to us now. We are looking for serious entrepreneurs who want to challenge the status quo and are not afraid to fail,” Liew said.

Although the prize money makes the challenge all the more exciting, Liew said, participants whose priority is to win the money would be wide of the mark.

“Look at what contribution you can make to society with the money, and what impact you can create with it in the long run,” he said when asked what criteria the judges would be paying most attention to.

Joining Liew on the panel of judges are Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd executive vice president and head of group transactions and SME banking Victor Khor, Manulife Insurance Bhd chief marketing officer Kenny Thing, Leaderonomics chief executive officer Roshan Thiran, BFM 89.9 founder and managing director Malek Ali, and Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd marketing and strategic partnerships vice-president Hazel Hassan.

The SME Innovation Challenge is open to entrepreneurs whose businesses have been operating for less than three years.

To join, participants can submit their business plans online at by Sept 1.

The bank will narrow down the submissions to 20 finalists who will then take part in a two-month structured business coaching and mentoring programme with prominent business icons and subject-matter experts.

Finalists will also get to participate in the bank’s BizSmart Academy programme which includes the Young Entrepreneurs Conference that will take place in five major cities in Malaysia, as well as the BizSmart Community event which features monthly learning and networking opportunities.

The panel will then shortlist six finalist and winners will be determined by votes from the judges and the public. The public’s vote will carry 30% weightage in the choice of the winners.

Alliance Bank Malaysia group chief executive officer Joel Kornreich said the bank’s central mission is to help entrepreneurs achieve success right from the start of their journey.

“Our role is to cheer them on and provide them with the tools that will help them reach their goals,” he said, adding that banks too have the opportunity to gain from the entrepreneurs through the challenge.

“When the entrepreneurs are successful, so are we.”

Khor said the past two challenges received a total of more than 700 entries.

“This year, we anticipate at least 400 to 500 entries,” he said.

For more information, go to