DURING the Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) LAB held at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya recently, sponsors reached out to participating micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with options on how to get financing, transform themselves digitally or even educate themselves further.
Aligning with SOBA’s Shaping New Possibilities theme this year, the sponsors gave sound advice for MSMEs that are still struggling to find their footing after the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the ways companies can thrive is to keep themselves competitive in a highly saturated business market.
RHB Bank Berhad suggested MSMEs adopt collaborative partnerships, either through a shared economy or technology adoption.
They can also differentiate their products and services by embracing sustainability, which provides MSMEs with a competitive edge.
Incorporating sustainability in their operations will also attract customers who are today more environmentally conscious.
PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd offered that to stay ahead of changes, companies should innovate in all aspects — in their productivity, efficiency, product and service differentiation, from delivery right to customers at the end of the line.
Encouraging digital adoption
CelcomDigi Berhad advised that MSMEs should start digitalising their businesses in order to identify gaps or challenges in the market.
The telco said companies could reach out to trusted partners like itself that could guide them on their journey, by applying technology where needed.
This move will enable MSMEs to stay ahead in the market.To drive business expansion plans, CelcomDigi put forward that technological solutions empowered MSMEs by improving operations and efficiency, allowing them to concentrate on running, growing and expanding their business.
Technology can also help them reach more customers to increase awareness and sales. CelcomDigi has been a trusted partner for many MSMEs as they embark on their business digitalisation journey.
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) championed digitalisation efforts and encouraged Malaysian companies to promote their products and services overseas through online platforms.
Its Transformation and Digital Trade Division is dedicated to and responsible for developing Malaysian companies, particularly SMEs, helping them start off their export journey through digitalisation.
Among the programmes offered is eTrade which aims to onboard Malaysian SMEs in renowned e-commerce platforms such as AliBaba, Amazon, eBay, Halal Street and JD.com.
PKT Logistics gave a reminder that MSMEs that were embarking on digitalisation should start small; even automating their Microsoft Excel spreadsheets was one step forward.
For MSMEs to stay competitive, Matrade suggested, they should diversify their export markets, expanding their products and services offerings to international buyers from various countries to mitigate the risks of trading with only a single market.
This can help increase their competitiveness through four core functions, classified as export promotion, exporter development, trade advisory services, as well as market and trade information.
Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Berhad (CGC) however pointed out that smaller companies had limitations when it came to exporting, due to their smaller production capacity.
It also encouraged MSMEs to become familiar with different countries’ regulations and requirements, and to be aware of cultural and language barriers.
Nevertheless, through CGC’s Developmental Programme via Access New Markets, MSMEs are empowered with the necessary preparations and the chance to seize opportunities in international markets.
RHB Bank mentioned that adopting environment, social and governance (ESG) standards would future-proof MSMEs’ presence, given growing public consciousness over time.
It said companies that adopted ESG were strongly linked with noble values, vast growth opportunities, competitive operational costs and more.
CGC pointed out that as Malaysia planned to reduce carbon intensity against gross domestic profit by 45% by 2030 and to take part in international trade, ESG compliance was crucial.
MSMEs investing in sustainability will gain a competitive edge, enhancing their resilience.
Furthermore, investors and lenders favour organisations with ESG initiatives and disclosures, which impact investment decisions positively.
Even small sustainability efforts can enhance a business’s bottom line and return on investment.
Consumers post-Covid-19 are also more socially conscious and willing to pay extra for values-aligned brands.
PKT Logistics informed MSMEs that ESG practices actually made financial sense as these could help companies save in terms of costs.
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 www.soba.com.my