Bumiputera SMEs must break free of traditional business cocoon, says Mustapa

Bumiputera entrepreneurs, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must strive ahead and break free of the traditional business cocoon which only seeks to sell products already saturated in the market.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Bumiputera entrepreneurs at present are too focused on sales of textiles or products cheaply brought from countries within the region to be resold in the local market.

“We must graduate from such businesses and switch to those that are more sophisticated and of high value, such as premium value textiles,” he said after his keynote address at the Forum Explorasean: Opportunities and the Way Forward in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said Bumiputera SMEs must also take advantage of the e-commerce platform, apart from exploring regional markets towards expanding their businesses.

Mustapa said among the government initiatives to extend the e-commerce sector in the country is through the creation of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) which will open up opportunities for 1,500 e-commerce entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.

”The primary objective of the DFTZ is to encourage SMEs to venture into overseas markets, including China.

“We want to see Bumiputera entities among the 1,500 e-commerce companies, representing each state,” he added.

According to Mustapa, local SMEs, including Bumiputera SMEs, must explore the Asean market in view of the increasingly open global economy.

“In Malaysia, there are many opportunities, but in the context of the fast-growing global economy, we must look at outside markets. More so, when foreign companies are coming into Malaysia, including small businesses,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) president Datuk Moehamad Izat Emir said Bumiputera entrepreneurs refusing to use consultancy services towards the preparation of working papers to obtain financing was among the reasons their applications were rejected.

“Although many Bumiputera entrepreneurs do not have the required expertise for preparing quality working

papers, they still refuse to use consultancy services due to the perception that it entails a high cost.

“Such a perception must be done away with, as the consultancy services can help improve the chances of Bumiputera entrepreneurs obtaining financing, and the cost also depends on their ability to pay.

“Consultants are also entrepreneurs and they, too, consider the position of the client before levying any charge,” he added.

The one-day forum organised by Perdasama was aimed at assisting entrepreneurs, particularly Bumiputeras, to find new markets, apart from maintaining competitiveness in the field of entrepreneurship and areas of trade, industry and manufacturing. — Bernama