CIMB extends a helping hand to businesses in need


CIMB has demonstrably shown strong support in addressing the resilience and continued growth needs of businesses such as SMEs, the asnaf communities as well as B40 entrepreneurs. – RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

Beyond monetary aid, the bank creates support ecosystem for business upscaling

IT is safe to say that the pandemic left almost no one unscathed when Covid-19 struck last year.

The disruption to supply chains and businesses was severe, which led to loss of jobs and reduced income for the workforce as most businesses were unable to operate and forced to find ways and means to survive.

So when the Government implemented the first movement control order (MCO) in March last year, Malaysian banks also rolled out a six-month blanket moratorium from March to September to cushion the impact of the pandemic’s shock to the economy.

The banks subsequently offered various targeted repayment assistance to customers to provide extended financial relief to affected individuals and businesses, given the prolonged effects of the pandemic.

The repayment assistance offered by Malaysian banks in terms of scale and scope was by far the most extensive in any country.

Under the blanket moratorium, CIMB Group assisted a total of 1.2 million individual and SME customers in Malaysia, involving a total gross loan portfolio of RM157bil.

Post-blanket moratorium, CIMB’s targeted financial relief assistance programmes based on customers’ applications assisted more than 490,000 individual, SME and business banking customers to date – with a gross loan value of RM86bil.

The second phase of programmes included the Payment Assistance Programme under the Government’s Pemulih aid package in July and other CIMB programmes offered in 2020 such as the Targeted Assistance Programme and the Expanded Targeted Payment Assistance.

SME challenges

The country’s second largest lender was cognisant of the severe challenges faced by its SMEs which were adversely affected by the pandemic.

In most cases, affected businesses require additional funding to help them tide over during this period as well as recover and grow.

CIMB facilitated the roll out of Government loan initiatives such as the special relief funds (SRF) and the High Tech Facility – National Investment Aspirations (HTF-NIA) so that businesses received funding quickly.

This was supplemented by CIMB‘s own Business Relief Funds, providing additional much needed Covid-19 related financing to SMEs.

In total, these efforts benefited more than 3,000 SME customers with RM1.4bil in new financing.

Upskilling programmes

Beyond monetary aid, CIMB recognised the need for companies to build sustainable businesses that are resilient going forward.

To this end, CIMB created a comprehensive support ecosystem to help SMEs upscale their businesses during the pandemic, through mentoring and upskilling programmes which benefitted close to 6,000 customers via 32 training and seminar sessions conducted online.

The programmes included Exabytes (business cloud, digital and ecommerce solutions), halal-themed training, personalised webinars, Skim CAKNA, the CIMB MicroBizReady programme, the SME Partners programme webinars to help SMEs go digital (through ecommerce solution provider Shopmatic, and cloud HR services from BusinessHR) and the SME Sustainable Exporter Programme (a partnership with the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, or Matrade).

The CIMB MicroBizReady programme rolled out in October last year specifically for the B40 community was implemented in collaboration with Taylor’s Community – the CSR arm of Taylor’s Education Group.

Through the programme, micro-SME entrepreneurs gained functional and cognitive skills essential for business growth, with modules that included financing, digitalisation, emotional wellbeing and also formulating business strategies.

Lessons learnt

Chempaka Wati Ali Sadari who owns a food catering service said the CIMB MicroBizReady course helped her at every stage of running her business – from knowing how to keep a balanced business account to having a healthy mindset and creativity in marketing her business.

“I’m so glad that the course introduced me to EasyStore (an ecommerce platform) because that really helped with improving the business and so quickly too.

“I definitely believe in ecommerce now as a major component of running the business,” she said.

Tay: You really cannot be without an ecommerce website during the pandemicTay: You really cannot be without an ecommerce website during the pandemic

Tay Mee Ling who runs a snacks and perfume business said the know-hows about ecommerce websites was the most significant takeaway.

“I was amazed at the ease in setting up an online website with EasyStore. I am so glad that I attended CIMB MicroBizReady which provided so much knowledge that entrepreneurs need to know.

“You really cannot be without an ecommerce website during the pandemic,” she said.

Growth solutions

Commercial banking and SME customers were introduced to CIMB’s HalalBizReady – a comprehensive solution covering the entire value chain in connecting businesses to global halal trade – while CIMB’s GreenBizReady initiative paves the way for businesses embarking on their sustainability journey by connecting them to an ecosystem of “green” enablers including government agencies and specialists.

CIMB Islamic also embarked on its Projek Keusahawanan Taylor’s-CIMB Islamic and the CIMB Islamic Rider Entrepreneur Programme.

The former benefited micro businesses with equipment grants while the latter trained B40 participants and the asnaf communities on entrepreneurship and other technical skills with an opportunity to gain a motorcycle grant and employment with food delivery service Foodpanda for a year.

CIMB Islamic also inked an MoU with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to assist 500 B40 farmers with an initial RM10mil in microfinancing funding, with the potential of increasing up to RM25mil as the programme progresses.

This is aimed at transforming the agriculture sector digitally on a national level and to contribute to the nation’s food security and job creation by providing support and incentives to farmers utilising the latest digital agriculture technologies in artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and big data analytics (BDA).

The bank also launched the SME InstaBiz Financing last year, offering customers working capital financing of up to RM50,000 through a simple and quick application process online, allowing approvals and disbursements within the same day. CIMB has processed 10,000 applications as of August.

CIMB also rolled out the Amazing Customer Experience (ACE) which enabled relationship managers to initiate loan applications virtually from anywhere – simplifying the work process and providing convenience for customers.

This managed to cut processing time by reducing manual data entry and automating financing processing – resulting in an improvement in the customer satisfaction score by 17% year over year.

To further enhance the seamlessness and fast support to SMEs on Covid-19 payment relief schemes and other financing products in Malaysia, the bank launched the CIMB EVA bilingual chatbot for business customers in July, making it the first commercial bank in Malaysia to integrate the usage of a chatbot.

The group also sought to facilitate the transition for SMEs towards cashless payments, which saw them introducing the self-onboarding feature on the Touch ‘n Go ewallet.

This became very popular among the SME merchants who wanted to tap on the ewallet’s huge user base of 16 million Malaysians – making it the largest ewallet in the country. From 285,000 merchants at the end of 2020, this figure increased to 446,000 as of August this year.

Support for SMEs

CIMB has demonstrably shown strong support in addressing the resilience and continued growth needs of SMEs, which remain the backbone of the Malaysian and the South-East Asian economy, according to CIMB Group Commercial Banking CEO Victor Lee.

“CIMB continues to be a responsible partner to all its customers. I am confident that through both Government-led initiatives, as well as our internally-driven repayment assistance initiatives and financing packages, SMEs would receive the help they need in order to recover from the pandemic,” he said.

Among businesses that benefited from CIMB’s assistance was Klang-based Mejin Engineering & Construction Sdn Bhd, whose director Nickson Tan said his business was severely disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak and the prolonged lockdown in 2020.

“The SRF obtained through CIMB kept us afloat, especially when it came to meeting our short term obligations such as staff salaries and operational expenses.

“The assistance was very timely in terms of alleviating our short term cash flow challenges as the entire construction industry was severely impacted due to the MCO,” he said.

Liew: The SRF package from CIMB gave us much relief and timely cashflow to sustain our business, for which we are grateful.Liew: The SRF package from CIMB gave us much relief and timely cashflow to sustain our business, for which we are grateful.

Liew Kok Shen, the founder of Maslee Cash & Carry (Setia Indah) Sdn Bhd in Johor Baru, said his supermarket experienced a loss in revenue while continuing to incur costs including staff salaries and other operational expenses.

“The SRF package from CIMB gave us much relief and timely cashflow to sustain our business, for which we are grateful,” he said.

CIMB Group Commercial Banking deputy CEO Ahmad Shazli Kamarulzaman said: “Our numerous activities and programmes in mentoring, upskilling and knowledge upgrading have only added to the empowerment of business owners, especially those from the B40 segments.

“At the same time, digitalisation continues to be at the heart of CIMB’s touch points to furnish greater safety, efficiency and ease of doing business.

“At CIMB we put our customers at the heart of everything we do and we will continue to be their partner through good and bad times. We will be there to grow with them when they, as well as the region, bounce back,” said Ahmad Shazli.

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