Cream of the SME crop

  • SMEBiz
  • Monday, 15 Jan 2018

Crowning glory: Winners at SOBA 2016 celebrating their victory as (from left) CGC president and CEO Datuk Zamree Mohd Ishak, BMW Group Malaysia head of corporate Sashi Ambi, Star Media Group group managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, Minister of Transport Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Star Media Group Chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kui (sixth from left), AmBank Group group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir (seventh from left) and Matrade senior director Wan Latiff Wan Musa (eighth from left) look on.

Higher participation in the awards a show of strong entrepreneurship among local businesses

DESPITE a challenging year, some companies have found their niche and remained in a position of strength. The upcoming eighth Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) will be honouring such SMEs.

The awards ceremony will be held on January 16 at Connexion@Nexus, Kuala Lumpur.

Some 700 people are expected to come together to celebrate the achievements of these small businesses as they pave the way for the SME sector to be strengthened and contribute more positively to the country’s GDP.

SOBA 2017 saw an increase in the number of participating companies, many of them new to the awards, which demonstrates the growing reach of the awards as well as a stronger desire by small businesses to be benchmarked.

Judges who presided over the selection of winners for SOBA 2017 note that many of the companies have been affected by the weak market.

“In business, having ups and downs are a norm. What we need to look at is the resilience of the business players. The fact that in a challenging year, the response to the awards is still very good, I think that speaks volume of the Malaysian entrepreneurship. It is really strong. They don’t surrender and they keep ploughing forward.

“Those who receive awards are real fighters and real champions of their industries,” says chief judge of SOBA 2017 Datuk Eric Chong, president of Branding Association of Malaysia (BAM).

Meanwhile, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers council member Datuk Mizanur Rahman Ghani, who is also one of the judges of the awards, observes that more and more companies are moving into Industrial Revolution 4.0 technologies.

“There is greater move to automate. Basically, they are improving their standards to meet public expectations of the services they provide. And these are young companies. Even those who are providing services in the food and beverage and healthcare sectors are also improving the standards of their services.

“Of course, there are also the more technology-oriented companies. But all of them are definitely trying to raise their standards to be ahead of the competition,” says Mizanur.

As part of its efforts to boost SMEs, Star Media Group has also organised various Learning Series and engagements under SOBA.

SOBA, which honours up-and-coming local, non-listed companies and SMEs, is open to all local enterprises that are not part of a multinational or listed group, and incorporated in Malaysia with foreign equity not exceeding 50%.

The awards will continue to have two broad categories – one for enterprises with a turnover of more than RM25mil and the other for those that have generated less than RM25mil per annum – to recognise the achievements of upcoming small businesses as well as more established SMEs.

SOBA has seven “Top-Of-The-Class” awards, namely, Best in Marketing, Best Brand, Best in CSR, Best Green Initiative, Best Employer, Best Innovation and Best Global Market, as well as three “Outstanding Achievement” awards, which are Rising Star, Entrepreneur of the Year (Male/Female/Young) and Malaysian Business of the Year.

SOBA 2017 is organised by Star Media Group with AmBank, DiGi and HRDF as main sponsors, CGC as co-sponsor, Matrade as official trade promotion partner and Connexion Conference & Event Centre as official venue sponsor.

It is endorsed by the Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs (SAME), Prime Minister’s Department, and the Finance and International Trade and Industry ministries.

It is supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO, with 988, SuriaFM and dimsum as official media partners.

For enquiries, call The Star events business unit at 03-7967 1388 ext 1432 (Jasmine)/ 1657 (Victor) or visit

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