Malaysians must get used to challenging environment

Chang Khim Wah said:

KUALA LUMPUR: Businesses can succeed even within the most challenging environment as long as they are able to manage and overcome uncertainty, said Eco World Development Group Bhd (EcoWorld) chief executive officer and president Datuk Chang Khim Wah.

Speaking to the top 60 finalists of the Alliance Bank SME Innovation Challenge 2016, Chang said entrepreneurs must accept that “uncertainty is here to stay”.

“You have to get used to it. Otherwise, you cannot be an entrepreneur.

“If you expect a stable environment to do business over the next five years, that is not going to be the case. It is all about how you manage it and how you overcome it,” he told the start-up entrepreneurs during the CEO Chatroom session here.

Speaking about EcoWorld’s own journey, which began in Sept 2013, Chang said the company started out with 1,000 acres of land and two projects.

Today, the group has 8,000 acres of land and 18 projects with a gross development value of RM87.5bil, with 11 projects already launched. Its market capitalisation also grew from RM230mil to over RM3bil during the period.

“We have grown 15-fold in three and a half years,” Chang said.

The group had accomplished this, he said, by understanding the market and customers, mapping out strategies, teamwork, branding and sticking to its core values.

The SME Innovation Challenge is an initiative under Alliance Bank’s annual BizSmart Academy programme, whereby finalists get to meet and learn from prominent business leaders.

The bank had previously offered 20 places for the programme but tripled the slots to 60 this year.

“The top 60 finalists selected this year come from a wide range of industries such as food and beverage, fashion, medical technology, waste management, e-commerce and technology from all over Malaysia.

“Making these sessions available to more start-up entrepreneurs allow for more diversity as they are also able to network and learn from each other,” said Alliance Bank senior vice-president, head of group SME banking, Christopher Yap.

The 60 finalists are preparing for the final face-to-face pitch to the panel of judges, after which 20 finalists will be chosen and have a chance to win cash and media prizes worth RM1mil.

Later at a press conference, Chang said Alliance Bank hoped the Government would introduce measures to assist first-time home buyers in the upcoming Budget.

“The housing industry could use a boost.

“If the Government can find ways to help first-time home buyers with down payments and end-financing from the banks, it will be very good for the industry,” he said.

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