PUNB offers business loans to retrenched workers

The funding is the govt’s response to laid off individuals who wish to venture into entrepreneurship


PERBADANAN Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB) is expected to roll out a new Covid-19 relief fund with a minimum financing amount of RM50,000 for retrenched employees who are venturing into business.

Its chairman Tan Sri Noh Omar (picture) said the relief fund, of which further details will be announced soon, is the government’s response to individuals, including those who are working in professional fields, who are opening up a business after being laid off.

Speaking at the signing ceremony for memorandum of understandings (MoUs) between PUNB and seven agencies under the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry (Medac) in Putrajaya yesterday, Noh added that PUNB has been requesting additional allocation from the Finance Ministry (MoF) as the scheme is not included in Budget 2021.

“PUNB’s minimum financing amount is RM100,000 but specifically for this, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has agreed to lower the threshold and now one could borrow at a lower commitment of RM50,000.

“We are requesting additional funding from MoF but have yet to receive the allocation. Once launched, PUNB will use its financial resources first,” he said.

Noh added that at present, the longevity and the total amount of the new Covid-19 aid have yet to be finalised as the minimum amount of the financing could be raised depending on the requirement of applicants.

Previously, the government introduced financial assistance through the short-term National Economic Recovery Plan for local business owners whose operations had been impacted by the pandemic.

Namely the Bumiputera Relief Financing (BRF), Noh said the RM200 million relief has been fully utilised, benefitting about 1,000 entrepreneurs.

The BRF offered financing between RM100,000 and RM1 million to each entrepreneur to facilitate the recovery and sustainability of Bumiputera businesses by adopting new business models suitable to the norms of the present market and environment.

Between its inception in 1991 and 2020, PUNB has assisted in funding 7,918 businesses involving 11,300 Bumiputera entrepreneurs in several sectors including the retail, distribution and wholesale network for small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs).

According to PUNB’s data, the number of active entrepreneurs as of 2020 stood at 3,493, while the active Bumiputera businesses stood at 2,446 companies.

The seven agencies under Medac which PUNB has signed MoUs with are UDA Holdings Bhd, SME Corp Malaysia, Small Medium Enterprise Development Bank Malaysia Bhd, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd, Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga, Perbadanan Nasional Bhd and National Entrepreneurship Institute.

Medac Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the main objective of the partnerships is to create cooperation in establishing a conducive ecosystem for a competitive business environment for Bumiputera.

“The lack of funds and financial assistance are the obvious reasons for the low business participation from Bumiputera.

“Last year, about RM833 million was allocated through Medac to establish 23 Bumiputera programmes, benefitting 131,807 business entrepreneurs,” he said.