Govt urged to focus more on micro-businesses

Most micro-businesses are operating on small amounts of working and human capital, which makes it difficult to grow


SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) are calling for the government to focus more on supporting informal and formal micro-businesses including sundry shops, in the upcoming Budget 2020.

There are five million informal and formal micro-businesses in the country, which is a large group in need of additional aid, Malaysia SME group chief editor Wayne Lim said.

“We’ve been engaging with them for the past year and we have found that they are suffering especially due to the rise of e-commerce, when everything can be bought online,” he said at the SME Congress media briefing in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Most of these micro-businesses are operating on small amounts of working and human capital, which makes it difficult for them to grow. “It’s unfair on them because these big players coming from overseas are funded with billions of dollars.

“We always say businesses must transform or adopt new technology, but if I’m a sundry shop in Muar, I would have to sell my products at a higher price for the money to bear costs, compared to large corporations like Lazada Malaysia for example, who can subsidise prices and are also not selling items for the money, but other things,” Lim said.

Aside from micro-financing, there are many other ways for the government to support micro-businesses, which are still needed in the country as not everything can be purchased online.

All five million micro-business owners in the country are self-employed as well, which adds to their vulnerability to job losses, Lim added.

“Sundry shops are also often associated with the vulnerable and poor which means the lower end of the bottom 40% of households group, whether it be the business owner or the human capital working for them.

“Even in informal micro-businesses, the workers are not even considered employees, but ‘helpers’,” he said.

Meanwhile, the 11th edition of Malaysia SME Congress will be held in Penang for the second year running on Oct 10 this year, themed “Progressing into Growth”.

“Last year saw more than 500 attendees with a 20% increase in turn-up rate from pre-registration, higher than the events held in the Klang Valley,” Malaysia SME advertising and event director Lynda Lee said.

According to Lee, Penang was selected as the venue for a second time due to the overwhelming reception last year, which was in turn due to the more open mindset of Penangite entrepreneurs.

Three international speakers will be joining the bulk of local entrepreneur-speakers at the event, namely Evolve to Grow Pte Ltd founder Tristan Wright, StudioHawk founder Harry Sanders and OFOUNDERS founder and former Olympian Inga Stasiulionyte.