RM50mil fund to give Indian women micro-entrepreneurs a leg up on business

KUALA LUMPUR: A special fund of RM50mil has been allocated for Indian women micro-entrepreneurs to expand their business and elevate their economic status, says Datuk Ramanan Ramakrishnan.

The Deputy Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister said that the fund under Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) was an effort to assist small businesses run by Malaysian Indian women aged 18 and above.

"The RM50mil loan, which uses the internal AIM funds will benefit 7,100 new entrepreneurs. This will raise the number of benefactors of AIM loan schemes to 10,200.

"This will create more micro Indian entrepreneurs, in line with the Malaysia Madani concept," said Ramanan while speaking at a Tamil New Year celebration and the launch of the Prosperity Empowerment and a New Normal (PENN) fund on Sunday (Apr 13).

Micro-entrepreneurs can apply up to RM30,000 per person and would have to start repaying the loans when the businesses have started reaping profits.

Ramanan further said that this would also help place Indian women micro-entrepreneurs who have been on the sidelines of Malaysian society and in poverty to be more prosperous.

"Applications for the PENN fund will be open from April 15 at 124 AIM branches nationwide. I would also like to say thank you to the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for all their support," said Ramanan.

At the same event, AIM board of trustees chairman Datuk Seri Syed Hussian Syed Junid stated that such micro-credit schemes would not only benefit micro-entrepreneurs but also improve the quality of life of their families.

"AIM has proven that it has assisted nearly a million women entrepreneurs regardless of race and religion, as AIM is open to all. However, the participation of Indian women is low when compared to the participation of Malay women entrepreneurs.

"This kind of scheme not only increases household incomes but also helps them break out of the poverty cycle, in line with the Prime Minister having placed AIM as the main agency to eradicate poverty in the country," said Syed Hussian.

He also said that financial literacy training was provided for those who are members of AIM, apart from the micro credit schemes.

Meanwhile, B. Nagammah, 58, who runs a flower stall by the roadside in Rawang, said that she was attending the event with five of her friends, hoping to be a recipient of the micro credit scheme.

"I want to open a flower shop selling prayer paraphernalia also but that needs money. The rent alone is RM1,000. I want to apply for RM10,000 to start the shop and get the rest of what is needed from elsewhere.

"The income I am getting now is not enough to pay my bills and if I open the shop, this will cover my household expenses. I have no savings," said Nagammah, a mother of five grown up children.

Her friend N. Nallama, 57, who runs a home-based clothes business, said that she hoped to get some money to further expand her business.

"I hope I am eligible as for now what I get is not enough for me to save or put back into the business. This kind of scheme would assist people like me, provided we can pay back when we make profit," said Nallama.

The event was attended by about 200 Indian women micro-entrepreneurs.

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