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Leverage digital platform to meet demands

LEVERAGING on the digital platform to meet customer demand, Malaysia’s young entrepreneurs who dominated 40% of the country’s population are becoming more powerful in today’s business.

This new platform seems to work well with the government’s aspiration in making the digital economy as the new driver of development.

“It is the relevant way of conducting business and marketing since most of us own one or maybe two smartphones. Everything can be done using this device.

“They can use digital marketing on the e-commerce platform to capture more market. Therefore, we should take advantage of this technology.

“Not only we could widen the country’s income growth, but we could also take it beyond Malaysia and enter the Asean market, home to 667 million population,” Asean Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Moehamad Izat Emir told Bernama.

He said the Gen-Y entrepreneurs have become more powerful today and they have a bigger influence to generate new mode of businesses using technology.

Based on a report produced by Google and Temasek Holdings, the e-commerce market in South-East Asia is expected to be worth US$200bil by 2025, while the mobile commerce is expected to ride on e-commerce growth as smartphone users account for more than 90% of South-East Asian internet users.

Mobile commerce penetration was at 58% in Thailand, 40% in Malaysia, 39% in Singapore, 33% in Vietnam, 31% in Indonesia, and 25% in the Philippines as of January 2018.

The mobile commerce, or m-commerce, could be defined as the buying and selling of goods and services over the Internet using mobile phones.

Moehamad Izat said since all the 10 Asean member countries have a lot of similarities in terms of culture, beliefs and religion, they should be able to attract more business deals among themselves while promoting healthy competition.

“We also eat the same staple food (rice) and we have other similarities in terms of natural resources like palm oil, oil and gas, rubber and textile,” he said.

Moehamad Izat said, together, Asean should be as strong as other trading bloc and is on track to becoming the fourth largest economy behind China, India and the US by 2030 (overtaking the EU and Japan).

He also urged the youth who inherited their parents’ businesses to step up the business model/plan to another higher level and engage the digital platform to reach a wider market.

“Even if their parents are into small businesses like “keropok lekor”, “batik canting” in the village, they can promote the product via social media and sell it to the locals and buyers abroad.

“I also notice they like to venture into the food and beverages business like the food truck. It is good that they like to be their own bosses, but instead of having one food truck, they should expand their business to 10 food trucks (for example) and have 10 brands.

“They can get assistance from the government agencies namely Sirim in terms of improving their brand name… and having a good brand name is crucial as it can help bring their product to the international level and not just being the “jaguh kampung”. They can learn from big names in the market today such as Coca- Cola, Nestle and so on.”

However, he urged the young entrepreneurs, the Bumiputera especially, to be smart and fast in seizing the opportunities provided by the government and its agencies’ through various programmes or incentives for startups.

He noted that there are a number of young entrepreneurs who actually have creative and innovative business plans, but chose to stay away from the funds offered as they are afraid they will not be able to service the loans.

“This is why the chamber has organised and will organised again coaching sessions on business financing for small and medium enterprises in the quest to extend financial assistance to them.

“We have and will partner Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd again to assist the companies if they need any funding”.

Haslinda Hashim, owner of a bamboo nasi lemak in Petaling Jaya, said one of the major problems plaguing the Malay SMEs is the lack of capital for marketing purposes.

“The requirement by the banks often resulted in us giving up our plan. Some of us have been long in the industry and we might have other businesses before this and being in the business, it is not always rosy but we have to make a living,” she said.

Haslinda said it is difficult for the business owner who has fallen into bankruptcy to start a new business.­­

“But because of my passion in this line, I am committed to continuing my business,” said the single mother.

She has been in the industry for more than 18 years and used to be involved in the pharmaceuticals business.

“My advice to the young entrepreneurs and single mothers like me is to always be patient with your dreams and identify your strengths and take advantage of them and tackle well your weaknesses,” she said.

Youth chairman of the Asean Chamber of Commerce Farique Azwan, on the other hand, said the chamber would be collaborating with UITM to establish Asean Academy for a student exchange programme.

“We want to give exposure to students within the Asean region and to inject business spirit among them. This programme will allow the students (within the Asean region) to come here and our students to go out to learn about the culture and business lingo practised outside and maybe, see what are the latest trends in the industry.

“This generation has their own need to catch up with their lifestyle, therefore, they need to learn how to make money for themselves and instead of just depending on their parents.

“Who knows, maybe after graduating, with their entrepreneurial skills and experiences, they can become the individual who creates jobs instead of looking for the jobs,” he added. — Bernama


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