Axiata and subsidiaries launch RM150m fund for micro SMEs

By FARA AISYAH / Pic TMR

AXIATA Group Bhd and its subsidiaries Celcom Axiata Bhd, edotco Group Sdn Bhd and Axiata Digital Services Sdn Bhd have launched a RM150 million cash fund to provide financial assistance to micro small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The fund, Axiata’s Covid-19 Assistance Programme, will also include an initial contribution of RM20 million from the Finance Ministry.

Axiata president and group CEO Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim (picture) said the fund serves as a direct and urgent intervention by Axiata to give immediate assistance to micro SMEs facing financial difficulties arising from the unprecedented pandemic and the subsequent Movement Control Order issued by the Malaysian government which saw the closure of all non-essential businesses.

“As the government and institutions battle on the hour to mitigate the coronavirus spread within the communities, corporate Malaysia is also rising to the fore to leverage their resources and capabilities to alleviate the impact on businesses and communities.

“As banks are playing their important role to provide relief for affected SMEs, we also need to address the requirements of hundreds of thousands of smaller SMEs that may not meet the standard criteria for bank loans.

“Therefore, we decided to contribute whatever we can to help as fast and as much as we can,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He added that this micro-lending cash programme is one area they can assist in their own small way, quickly and efficiently.

The telecommunication group will be offering Shariah-compliant micro-financing through its subsidiary Axiata Digital by riding on the Aspirasi digital platform, in the range of RM1,000 to RM10,000 and on favourable terms.

“We anticipate that the fund will benefit an estimation of 150,000 micro SMEs within the Boost, Aspirasi and Celcom ecosystems, as well as within other ecosystems including its e-commerce and fast-moving consumer goods partners, and potentially other telecommunications companies and e-wallets.

“The interest and payment terms include suspended repayment requirements and concessional interest rates,” he said.

Additionally, Jamaludin revealed that the Axiata’s Covid-19 Assistance Programme will bundle micro-insurance coverage under Aspirasi to protect micro SME proprietors and merchants with emergency income, accidental death and Covid-19 assistance.