RM50mil boost for small Indian businesses

Fund is meant to help women micro-entrepreneurs

KUALA LUMPUR: A special RM50mil fund will help Indian women micro-entrepreneurs expand their businesses, says Deputy Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk R. Ramanan.

He said the fund under Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) would specifically assist small businesses run by Malaysian Indian women aged 18 and above.

He said the loans which utilise internal AIM funds would benefit 7,100 new entrepreneurs, raising the number of AIM loan scheme benefactors to 10,200.

“This will help create more Indian micro-entrepreneurs in line with the Malaysia Madani concept,” Ramanan said at a Tamil New Year celebration and launch of the Prosperity Empowerment and New Normal for Indian Women (PENN) fund here yesterday.

He said micro-entrepreneurs could apply up to RM30,000 per person and would have to start repaying the loans when the businesses make profits.

Ramanan said the move would help improve the living standards of Indian women micro-entrepreneurs, adding that applications for the PENN fund would open from tomorrow at 124 AIM branches nationwide.

Capital injection: Ramanan (centre) launching the PENN fund for Indian women in Kuala Lumpur. — CHAN TAK KONG/The StarCapital injection: Ramanan (centre) launching the PENN fund for Indian women in Kuala Lumpur. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

AIM board of trustees Datuk Seri Syed Hussian Syed Junid, who was present, said such micro-credit schemes would also benefit the dependents of the micro-entrepreneurs.

“AIM has assisted nearly a million women entrepreneurs regardless of race or 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 to break the poverty cycle, with the Prime Minister having placed AIM as the main agency to eradicate poverty in the country,” he said, adding that financial literacy training was also provided for AIM members.B. Nagammah, 58, who operates a roadside flower stall in Rawang, attended the event with five of her friends, hoping to be a recipient of the microcredit scheme.

“I want to open a proper flower shop selling prayer paraphernalia too but I need funds. The rent alone is RM1,000. I wish to apply for RM10,000 to start the shop and get the rest of what is needed from elsewhere.

“The income I get now is not enough to pay my bills. If I manage to open the shop, it will cover my household expenses. I have no savings,” said the mother of five.

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

“I hope I am eligible as what I make now is hardly enough for me to save or invest into my business. This scheme will assist people like me, provided we can pay back when we make profits,” she added.

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

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