Exploit Asean market, business women told

Bright sparks: (From left) Ong, Sarojini, Dr Cheah and Wong (far right) presenting the prize to students from Sunway College Ipoh, who won the ‘From Good to Great’ business ideas competition for tertiary students during the conference at Eastin Hotel Penang.

WOMEN entrepreneurs should exploit the Asean market and use it as a stepping stone to explore the market in China which has a huge market, said National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Malaysia (Nawem) patron Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

“Exploiting the market doesn’t mean just selling their products but going cross borders to form business alliances, undertaking joint ventures and mergers, and any other possible collaborations in sectors with great growth potential in Asean countries.

“These are where a successful entrepreneur can actually seek out opportunities. So, go to countries that have yet to be developed and be pioneers there, ” she said in her keynote address at Nawem’s Inspire Women in Business conference in Penang on Saturday.

Rafidah said the first entrepreneur witha good brand name, integrity and product service will be the market leader in good time.

“Base yourself in Asean, set up a factory there, and do business as an Asean company, but bear in mind that the Asean market is not homogenous, therefore you cannot replicate the business or product from Malaysia without adjusting it to suit the Asean need.

“Market preferences and demands change according to the profile of the population. Different generations have different tastes, preferences and lifestyles. So, one needs to adjust,” she said.

Rafidah, who is also AirAsia X groupchairman, delivered her speech via a pre-recorded video clip, as she was away in Japan for AirAsia X’s inaugural flight launching from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo.

Some 200 people, mainly from the northern region attended the conference, where Tropical Spice Garden managing director Katharine Joan Chua, D’Monte Child Care and Development founder Goh Ka Tin, DeliverEat.my co-founder Leong Shir Mein, and Balik Pulau Lodge owner Dr Maggie Fong were the guest speakers.

Nawem Penang chapter also celebrated its sixth anniversary at the conference, while Sunway College Ipoh also won the ‘From Good to Great’ business ideas competition for tertiary students, which was conducted earlier in conjunction with the anniversary celebration.

Also present were Nawem president Sarojini Ruth Rajahser, deputy president Puan Sri Dr Susan Cheah, Nawem Penang chapter advisor Ong Swe Ee and Nawem Penang chairman Wendy Wong.

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