WOMEN-OWNED businesses constitute 20.6% of the total 907,065 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia, according to a report by SME Corp in 2018.
In addition, it was estimated that 61.3 million women entrepreneurs own and operate businesses in Asean, accounting for almost 10% of the total Asean population.
Just as the number of women-owned businesses were on the rise in the recent years and making breakthroughs, the pandemic threatens to set them back.
In fact, women business owners are among those severely affected by the pandemic as most of them are in micro and informal (unregistered) categories and running businesses, that are in the non-essential sectors such as aesthetics, fashion, spa, beauty, event management and wedding planning.
Following the stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the movement control orders (MCO), many of these business operators had to close shop and this affected their operations and as well as their livelihood.
To assist the target groups mainly in post-COVID-19 recovery as well as helping them to expand their operations, Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC), together with Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) have allocated RM18.2 mil for programmes and assistance specifically for women and disabled business operators.
This allocation will be used for various programmes, including offering a wide range and services from financing assistance, micro financing, coaching programmes, training and upskilling programmes – all of which aimed to produce more competitive, dynamic and resilient entrepreneurs.
Among the agencies under MEDAC involved in this include National Entrepreneurship Institute (INSKEN), TEKUN and SME Corp and Perbadanan Nasional Bhd (PNS).
These agencies will develop various programme with agencies under KPWKM namely the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) as well as the welfare department.
“One area that we want to focus on right now is to assist these businesses to go digital,” Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said.
“COVID-19 has certainly enhanced the need for businesses to adopt, adapt and embrace technology. Based on our survey, we find businesses that went digital thrive while those that resist are facing difficulties.”
Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi said that MEDAC, via PNS, is also keen to work with KPWKM to identify potential women-owned businesses that could be developed into a homegrown franchise brand.
He pointed out that franchise is a powerful platform that can help accelerate growth of the SME sector and that PNS, through its various programmes, is able to provide hand holding experience that would ensure the success of those interested to venture into this business.
“Many SMEs are afraid to venture into franchising mainly due to the perception that it requires a high initial capital,” Wan Junaidi remarked.
“Of course, before they start, PNS would evaluate their business and consult them how to go about doing this step by step.”
He added that they also have other agencies within the ministry to provide the necessary support for entrepreneurs in this venture from financing, training, business coaching, consultation and many more.
Under its five-year plan strategy, PNS is targeting a minimum of 5,000 financing approval to entrepreneurs which is expected to expand the franchise portfolio by 400 % from RM178 mil to RM700 mil.
Furthermore, this is expected to create 18,000 jobs and contribute RM4.4 bil towards the gross domestic product (GDP). – April 13, 2021