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  • Monday, 05 Oct 2015

Alliance Bank Malaysia Bhd has shortlisted entries for its SME Innovation Challenge 2015 down to the top 20 finalists. And those shortlisted will be going through a series of business coaching as they vie for the RM1mil cash prize.

The finalists include Freshcart Grocer, Signature Snack, The Alphabet Press, SnapSell and LYL Technology.

“The young startups’ response to SME Innovation Challenge for the past three years has been positive and is a clear demonstration of the thriving entrepreneurial scene in Malaysia,” says Victor Khor, Alliance Bank executive vice president and head of group transaction & SME banking, at the annual BizSmart Academy Young Entrepreneurs’ Conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

“Since its inception in 2013, the programme has received more than 1,000 good quality submissions from a wide range of industries including retail, e-commerce, fashion, food and beverage as well as social enterprises.

“It’s no secret that the SMEs in Malaysia power the engines of growth for our country. They represent 98% of businesses in Malaysia and employ 57% of the nation’s workforce.

The 20 finalists of the SME Innovation Challenge 2015 with Liew (centre, in white shirt) and Khor (in coat).

“About 79% of Malaysian SMEs are microenterprises with less than five employees and 45% of them are young, with operations of less than five years. It is because of this that Alliance Bank has made it its mission to help business owners succeed at their enterprise aspirations, starting with the young Malaysian SMEs,” Khor adds.

The finalists will undergo a two-month structured business coaching and mentoring with established business icons and subject matter experts. They will also engage with various media for brand exposure.

All these will culminate in a final business idea pitch to the panel of judges and the public in early December 2015.

“This is my third year as the chairman of the judging panel, and I am happy to note that we continue to have an interesting mix of finalists,” says Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin of Eco World Development Group Bhd.

“There were quite a few innovative ideas presented. I’m always refreshed to hear how these young entrepreneurs, even those in traditional businesses, are using the Internet and digital communication platforms to enhance or reinvent the way business is carried out,” he comments.

While the path to becoming a successful entrepreneur is not easy, Liew notes that the 20 finalists are privileged to receive a huge leg-up through their participation in the Alliance Bank SME Innovation Challenge.

He is optimistic the participants will be able to learn much from the structured training, as well as gain invaluable opportunities to network and learn from each other.

“Many of the programme’s alumni have mentioned that the journey has been the springboard to their young company’s growth,” chips in Khor.

“Being in the programme has provided them with greater media exposure, thereby helped create greater brand awareness for their company, networking opportunities with industry leaders especially through the CEO Chatroom sessions, and most of all, an invaluable networking and collaborative platform stemming from the friendships made during the challenge,” he adds.

Alliance’s SME Innovation Challenge 2015 is supported by Eco World, Manulife Insurance Bhd, Visa Malaysia, HyppTV, Cradle Fund Sdn. Bhd (Cradle), BFM89.9 and Leaderonomics.

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