SOBA Awards back for 11th year

Digital push: Matrade CeO datuk Wan Latiff and Khazanah’s dr Jomo (right) highlight the challenges in the business world.

PETALING JAYA: The Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) 2020 is back for the 11th year to showcase the nation’s best small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“The award, running for its 11th consecutive year, inspires and encourages local businesses, as well as highlights the impacts of SMEs in our country’s economic growth. At its core, SOBA recognises the important role local businesses play towards building our nation,” said Star Media Group Bhd (SMG) chief business officer Lydia Wang.

There are several additions to the line-up of the prestigious business awards this year, namely the two new categories of Best in Customer Service and Best in Retail, to better reflect the diversity of Malaysian SMEs.

The Best in Customer Service category will recognise companies providing exemplary services to their clients while the Best in Retail category will highlight innovative, creative and top-class retailers across the country. As with the other categories, there will be two tiers of the award based on company turnover (up to RM25mil turnover and above RM25mil turnover).

Moreover, SOBA 2020 has also introduced an online submission feature, in addition to manual submissions.

As for the free capacity building series “SOBA Learn Aspire Build (LAB)”, Wang said it would be delivered through a series of webinars addressing business insights on how to alleviate adversities stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also present at the digital launch were Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa, Khazanah Research Institute senior adviser and guest speaker Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram, SMG events business unit assistant general manager Corinne Chieng as well as SOBA sponsors, strategic partners, representatives from business organisations, associations and past SOBA winners.

During the digital launch, Jomo also shared his insights on the business sector in a talk on “Some Business Challenges of Our Times”.

After a brief recap of global measures to tackle the pandemic, he urged businesses, especially SMEs, to recognise that they cannot return to “business as usual” but forge a new path forward by identifying goods and services that have “hope for the future”, despite the fact that the new normal remains ambiguous at the moment.

“The very nature of this epidemic means that we cannot expect a return to business as usual once we get over this period, however long it might last. This is something we need to come to terms with,” he said.

“It’s not going to be solved in a matter of months; it will probably take many, many years before the effects of Covid-19 are fully felt. This means that businesses will have to adjust.

“They’re going to have to make very difficult choices to change or repurpose their plant and equipment, their premises and so on for alternative business purposes. You cannot expect, for example, high occupancy in the hotel business for quite a long time to come.”

SOBA is open to locally incorporated enterprises not part of a multinational or listed group with foreign equity not exceeding 50%. The deadline for entries is Dec 4, 2020.

To participate, complete the application form online via or alternatively, submit the hard copy to the organiser at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya.

Winners of SOBA 2020 will clinch over RM1mil worth of advertising space on SMG’s platform, alongside other benefits.

SOBA 2020 is organised by SMG with Digi, PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd and RHB Bank Bhd as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd as co-sponsor and Matrade as official trade promotion partner. It is endorsed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry, supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO with dimsum, 988 and Suria as official media partners.

The awards, which mark the achievements of enterprises that have made a difference to the nation’s economy by opening new frontiers, aim to inspire and steer local, non-listed companies towards greater success by promoting business excellence and stimulating positive competition.

For more information on SOBA 2020, call The Star Events Business Unit at +603 7967 1388 ext 1871 (Lily)/ 1039 (Poh Ern)/1104 (Sha-menei) or visit

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