PETALING JAYA: Selected small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that participated in the AmBank BizRACE Season 3 received up to RM19mil worth of grants from the RM100mil grant allocation of the Smart Automation Grant (SAG) supervised by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority or Mida.
AmBank group managing director of business banking Christopher Yap (pic) said, “This represents the largest contribution facilitated by a bank. Through BizRACE, we offer SME participants various opportunities critical for their sustained growth, including development courses, strategy consultations, media exposure and networking opportunities.
“AmBank partnered with government agencies in BizRACE’s third season to assist SMEs in their smart automation journey,” he told StarBiz. The BizRACE Season 3 had closed last year with three winners each from three tracks, namely, Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), Digitalisation and Halal Quest.
Entrepreneurs and management from the nine winning SMEs also benefited from a recent three-day executive development programme at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School, England in November.
This was followed by a five-day technology themed tour in Germany, where the winners saw glimpses of what the future of factories looked like.
“As a future-forward bank, we always have our sights on emerging trends. Next year, our annual BizRACE programme will have a strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) focus,” said Yap.
He noted that the BizRACE had over 2,000 SMEs participating in 2021, which was more than double that of the 987 SMEs in 2020.
“We provided development courses to over 300 SMEs in 2021 compared to 100 SMEs in 2020. Last year, we had also held up to 30 webinars and 60 virtual project consultations for our SMEs. As of the financial year ended March 31, 2022, we had disbursed more than RM288mil in financing to participants across all three seasons,” said Yap.
Regarding the three tracks chosen for BizRACE Season 3, Yap said the banking group was conscious of the need to help SMEs increase their productivity through the adoption of smart manufacturing, as well as reducing costs by optimising staffing and resources.
“Embracing IR 4.0 is imperative to remain relevant and competitive. Meanwhile, Covid-19 has accelerated the migration from physical infrastructure to digital infrastructure.
“Brick-and-mortar businesses that have decided to upgrade their business model and embrace digitalisation are able to be economically sustainable and competitive, particularly when they digitalise their sales and distribution channels,” he said.
Yap pointed out that as an SME-focused bank, AmBank provides development support and relevant solutions to SMEs looking to accelerate their adoption of digitalisation.
“Consumers are now more conscious of responsible products and services available in the halal sector. We are able to help our customers tap into these opportunities,” he said.
On the outcomes and progress seen from BizRACE winners, high achievers include CloudHAX, an online ticketing and event management platform, which was the second runner-up in BizRACE Season 2 in 2019.
Since the programme, CloudHAX’s annual revenue has increased by 10 times, and it has expanded to Singapore and Indonesia.
As for Innergia Labs, a cloud-based retail data analytics company which was a top 10 finalist in 2019, it has expanded to more than 50 partners operating across Asean within five years of its establishment.
Meanwhile, AMS Metal Group, a manufacturer and distributer of aluminium raw materials, profiles, sheets, foils and coils, which won first runner-up in 2019 has set up five warehouses – two in Johor and one each in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand.
“Moreover, we have seen SMEs adopt learnings from the IR 4.0 and digitalisation tracks of the BizRACE with impressive results,” said Yap.
In BizRACE Season 3, Readycare Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Comebest Malaysia Sdn Bhd) based in Ipoh, Perak, and a manufacturer of air fresheners, aerosol sprays, scented sachets, deodorants and dehumidifiers, was the champion in the IR 4.0 track.
Readycare Manufacturing invested in installing an Internet gateway switch provided by an ERP system to capture its production data, which improved its business revenue and overall efficiency by over 80%.
Meanwhile, the first runner-up in the IR 4.0 track was LTP Engineering Sdn Bhd, headquartered in Pusing, Perak and with an office in Melbourne, Australia, which is a metalworking specialist that provides technological solutions for machinery and specialised projects.
LTP Engineering adopted IR 4.0 by investing in a cutting-edge fibre laser cutting machine, one of the first in Malaysia.
The company was able to improve quality, reduce defects, improve precision and accuracy, as well as increase production efficiency by more than 60% in terms of daily volume.
The second runner-up in the IR 4.0 track was Mayflax Sdn Bhd (https://mayflax.com), a pharmaceutical wholesaler providing cash flow flexibility, a wide range of products and fast delivery to healthcare facilities.
Mayflax is utilising automated machinery and software for the packaging and delivery of pharmaceuticals. It hopes to improve the timeliness and accuracy of customers consuming its prescribed medication and aims to grow its business by 100% in the next five years.
In the digitalisation track, the champion was BloomThis Flora Sdn Bhd (www.bloomthis.co) which was founded in 2015, and aimed to disrupt the florist industry by using eCommerce and a personalised delivery service.
BloomThis Flora expanded its warehouse management system and developed its technology platform, resulting in more than 500% growth over the last two years.
Yap also pointed out that AmBank had delivered critical financial assistance to SMEs impacted by the pandemic through targeted relief packages and working capital facilities, with RM1.8bil disbursed to 2,281 SME applications.
“Through AmBankBizCLUB, we have engaged with close to 12,000 SMEs to provide development and networking opportunities to help businesses scale up. Our Road to Capital Markets series allows our clients to explore the capital market and IPOs.
“With 46 deals concluded since its inception in 2019, this initiative has delivered RM421mil in loans and has generated RM56mil in revenue,” he said.
The banking group also worked with Bay Supply Chain Technology Sdn Bhd, a fintech company offering a digital supply chain finance (SCF) platform that enables integrated digitalisation in SCF to enhance the supply chain management process for SMEs, their buyers and suppliers.
Regarding the challenges and business trends for SMEs in Malaysia, Yap said SMEs that have adopted IR 4.0 and digitalisation will have the upper hand, particularly in curbing issues such as labour shortage.
He noted that eCommerce will continue its steady growth post-pandemic with a compound annual growth rate of 11% to 12% from 2022 to 2027. Yap added that traditional businesses have realised the importance of investing in technology but do not know where to start, and the BizRACE programme acts as a conduit to help them transform and grow.