FT MCA Youth out to help food business hopefuls

Getting a leg up: (From left) Koh, Chong, Wee, Ng and Michael Ng, CEO of Ayam Penyet Bagus Sdn Bhd, at the ribbon cutting ceremony after the MOU signing at Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur. — ART CHEN/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: In a major effort to support youth entrepreneurship, Federal Territories MCA Youth has launched a new programme to provide hopeful youth entrepreneurs with the financing and guidance they need to succeed.

The new project will target entrepreneurs eager to enter the food and beverage industry by providing management experience through training and advice, as well as business loans.

Local food industry management players Ai Makan Express Management Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Bhd (Kojadi), respectively, will provide these after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at Wisma MCA here yesterday.

Applicants aged 18 to 40 can apply for the project, and if selected, they will undergo a one-month training program to ensure they are well-prepared for the market.

Federal Territories MCA Youth chief Mike Chong Yew Chuan said the goal was to assist young entrepreneurs in overcoming challenges they would face in the current economic environment.

“Many young aspiring entrepreneurs do not have the funds or expertise to realise their dreams. Many of them were forced to close their businesses within a few months.

“A recent unofficial survey indicated that 80% of startups fail within just eight months, which underscores the need for this initiative,” he said before the signing of the MOU.

While existing government support for micro and small-medium enterprises through Budget 2024 was good, Chong said the current application process was too cumbersome for many new business owners.

“Applicants must meet specific conditions, such as having operated their business for at least three years, making it seem unattainable for many first-time entrepreneurs,” he said.

Chong said the initiative would leverage Kojadi’s low-interest startup loans, while Ai Makan Xpress would utilise its successful business model and expertise in the food industry to train and prepare young entrepreneurs to enter the market.

“This will include guidance on optimal locations to set up their initial business, how to operate them, and worker training, among others,” he added.

Kojadi chairman Datuk Wira Koh Nai Kwong emphasised the importance of providing young entrepreneurs with a strong foundation.

“As newcomers, it’s important to have a good start and we want to help by providing them with a smooth loan application process without needing much red tape,” he said.

Koh added that Kojadi plans to expand its business loans into microcredit and small and medium enterprise (SME) loans for the programme in the future.

The MOU signing ceremony was witnessed by MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, with Koh signing on behalf of Kojadi and managing director Ng Swee Keong signing on behalf of Ai Makan Xpress.

Chong said the new programme will begin with an initial 10 candidates to guarantee the efficient use of the loaned funds.

“We want to ensure that the chosen entrepreneurs will become mentally and physically prepared to take on the business world before possibly expanding the programme capacity.

“If this model proves to be successful, we hope to invite more companies from other sectors to join in similar collaborations,” Chong said.

Those interested in applying for the MCA’s new programme can send their email to mca.youth.wilayah.persekutuan@gmail.com for information.

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