Alliance Bank to empower SMEs with new initiative

KUALA LUMPUR: Alliance Bank Bhd aims to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to accelerate their business growth through its BizSmart Challenge Accelerator Edition by partnering with private equity and venture capital firms.

Alliance Bank group chief executive officer Kellee Kam highlighted the launch of the initiative reaffirms the bank’s commitment to enable the growth journey of businesses through relevant and dynamic banking and non-banking solutions.

“We recognise that SME owners face various challenges especially during the startup phase, from securing funding to accessing relevant business coaching,” Kam said during a speech at the launch.

The bank has partnered with experts from different fields to address the diverse needs that SMEs have.

The partnered experts include private equity firm 5X Capital Sdn Bhd, venture capital firm 1337 Ventures Sdn Bhd, Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd (CGC) and Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd.

Private equity firm 5X Capital partner Natalie Tan said, while large corporations often make up Bursa Malaysia and get more attention from media outlets, it is SMEs that form the backbone of the identity of the Malaysian economy.

The business initiative organised by Alliance Bank aims to address the challenges that Malaysian SMEs face such as transitioning to eCommerce and digitalisation.

The bank has expanded the eligibility criteria for this challenge so more SMEs are able to participate for a chance to grow their business exponentially.

The eligibility criteria for businesses consist of an operation duration of 12 months to 10 years; have an annual sales turnover of RM500,000 to RM40mil; be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia; at least one of the company’s owner’s need to be Malaysian; and the company owner or director must not be related to the panel judges.

The seventh iteration of this initiative will also provide an opportunity for the top 30 finalists to pitch their business plan and ideas to venture capital investors from 1337 Ventures and 5X Capital.

Finalists will need to impress the judges who will select the top 10 businesses that will proceed to a final round of business pitching for a chance to grab a share of the cash prizes, mentorship, brand exposure and business training worth up to RM2mil in total, as well as preferential financing of up to RM20mil from Alliance Bank.

Finalists of the BizSmart Challenge can also leverage the resources, experience and know-how of an extensive network of programme partners, including from 1337 Ventures, 5X Capital, CGC and Cradle Fund.

The lineup of judges and investors include Alliance Bank’s Kam, 1337 Ventures chief executive officer Bikesh Lakhmichand, 5X Capital’s Tan, CGC chief business officer Sean Tan and Cradle Fund assistant vice-president Mohd Noor Hisham Abdul Bari.

The panel of judges also expressed that while they have no bias in any specific industries, they see strength in businesses related to health technologies, food and beverage, agriculture and renewable energy.

Malaysian businesses that have participated in the bank’s previous BizSmart Challenges include florist BloomThis Sdn Bhd, food chain myBurgerLab Sdn Bhd and fashion retailer Christy Ng Sdn Bhd.

Interested SMEs are to send in their submissions by July 15, 2024, while shortlisted participants will be contacted in August 2024.

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