SOBA partners excited to be back

THE Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2023 has launched with its partners gearing up once again to be part of this exciting and rewarding journey.

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) Strategic Planning Division senior director Raja Badrulnizam Raja Kamalzaman said they are proud to be working with Star Media Group (SMG) in giving recognition to companies, including exporters who have done well and through Matrade’s assistance.

 “We have seen that they have developed new skills and technologies, and have been able to adapt to the current changing market conditions.

“Matrade has been, and will continue to help exporters through our 46 offices around the world, updating them with new regulations, equipping them with knowledge, and preparing them for the challenges that the new market poses,” he said.

With the theme Shaping New Possibilities, SOBA 2023 reflects on the journey it has taken from just recognising and honouring SMEs to becoming a platform for like-minded entrepreneurs and organisations to support and inspire each other, share knowledge and network.

Star Media Group chief executive officer Alex Yeow said that this year’s theme encapsulates what SMG and SOBA partners stand for, and what they do.

“We have always been committed to uplifting Malaysian SMEs and providing a platform for entrepreneurs to encourage, support and more importantly, learn from one another,” Yeow said at the recent launch of SOBA 2023 at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya.

Yeow, who was joined by SMG chief business officer Lydia Wang and chief content officer Esther Ng at the launch, thanked SOBA’s partners for their unwavering support as that has led to the growth and establishment of the Awards today.

CelcomDigi Bhd chief enterprise business officer Afizulazha Abdullah believes that SOBA promotes good competition, and is a positive reinforcement for businesses to keep learning and not rest on their laurels.

“SOBA gives us a great opportunity to learn from all the achievers. We can reflect on what we could have done better as a business,” he said.

He reminded SMEs that they should continue to be prepared for any conditions, reflecting on the lessons learnt from the pandemic whereby some businesses were able to recover due to their adaptability and preparedness by going digital.

Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) has been a SOBA sponsor for nine consecutive years, including this year, and they are always at the forefront to assist micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), said its chief business officer Sean Tan.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, CGC has been supporting MSMEs and as of Dec 31 last year, we had committed over RM14bil to them in the form of guarantee and financing. Given the rapidly changing business landscape, CGC is taking steps to enhance operational readiness to better serve MSMEs,” he said.

As most businesses are aware, there is an increasing importance of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework, but this could be seen as an additional pressure for companies on their already constrained resources, especially when it comes to implementation and reporting.

PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd chief executive and managing director Datuk Seri Michael Tio said that it is important to have a sustainable business as it helps with scalability, adding that PKT has been on the sustainability journey since 2008.

“Some may think that ESG is all about spending money, but it is not the case. It is about how to sustain your business, and in fact helps your business to grow.

“Understand it (ESG) well, wait for the government to come out with the blueprint for ESG, and take action. I believe that with no ESG, there is no MSG (multinational sales and growth),” he said.

RHB Bank Bhd SME Banking head Yip How Nang pointed out that based on a recent study, there are associated risks if SMEs did not embark on the ESG journey, including losing out on business opportunities as 78% of multinational corporations will remove suppliers that disrupt their carbon transition plan by 2025.

“New government policies such as pollution tax or carbon pricing are expected to emerge to tax unsustainable businesses, resulting in higher operating costs.

“As the country moves towards sustainable business operations, there is increased support from Bank Negara Malaysia and financial institutions via sustainable funding schemes, non-ESG adopters may face difficulty in getting access to financial assistance,” shared Yip.

SOBA is open to locally incorporated enterprises that are not part of a multinational or listed company, with foreign equity not exceeding 50%.

Subsidiaries of listed companies are eligible to participate. The deadline for entry submission is Nov 10, 2023.

SOBA 2023 is organised by Star Media Group with CelcomDigi, CGC, PKT Logistics and RHB Bank as main sponsors, and Matrade as official trade promotion partner.

Supported by Bursa Malaysia, SOBA is audited by BDO while radio stations 988 and Suria are official media partners.

To take part in SOBA 2023 or for more information, call SMG Events (017-231 1789) or go to

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SOBA 2023


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