Some 42% of SMEs have downsized due to Covid-19

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

UP TO 42% of Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have reduced their number of employees as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, while the remaining 47% expressed confidence about future prospects.

In a collaborative report by Facebook, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development entitled the “State of Small Business”, it revealed that SMEs remain resilient and agile despite various challenges due to Covid-19.

The report, which surveyed SMEs across 50 countries and regions, rounds up the economic impact and adjustments being implemented in response to the crisis, while the objective of the research is to amplify the voice of SMEs and assess how their situations are changing.

“We understand that SMEs are and will continue to remain the backbone of Malaysia’s economy. These businesses have always demonstrated resilience and agility, which is further amplified now during the current pandemic.

“Now, more than ever, the research shows that Malaysian businesses are finding new ways to thrive in the digital landscape amid these difficult times,” the report stated.

Other key finding from Malaysia includes cashflow, which was identified as a primary concern, with 63% of SMEs reporting lower sales compared to the same time last year, while 58% expect cashflow to be a challenge over the next few months.

Additionally, SMEs made serious efforts to adapt by moving operations online, with 44% of operational SMEs on Facebook reporting 25% or more of their sales were made digitally in the past month.

Of those operational SMEs on Facebook, 64% are female-led, while 80% are male-led in Malaysia.

Local tempeh business Tajuddin Tempelicious is one of the many examples of women-led enterprises that have accelerated its digital transformation to remain sustainable and competitive in a post-pandemic era.

As one of the participants of Ministry of Youth and Sports-Malaysia Digital Economy Corp’s eUsahawan Young Heroes Programme, founder Noorasliyati Sukiman shared that 80% of her orders come from advertising her products on Facebook Marketplace, Instagram and WhatsApp.

“Social media platforms like Facebook have created so many opportunities for many businesses to expand overseas.

Since I started digitalising my business, I have managed to expand outside of Johor to other Asean countries, including Singapore and Brunei, as well as Europe and the Middle East,” she said.

Noorasliyati revealed that she had to expand the capacity of her operations due to the rise in demand for her products with sales increasing by 100%.

She added that she has plans to expand her business to more countries in Asia with the help of 15 agents and five employees under her belt.