Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) allocated RM40 million for its market development grant (MDG) to be disbursed to participating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) this year.
Matrade deputy CEO Sharimahton Mat Saleh said the corporation is ready to accept more applications for MDG and the Services Export Fund (SEF) as the grant has been raised from RM27 million and RM35 million in 2017 and 2016 respectively.
“Two years ago, MDG received an overwhelming response that we spent the allocations for 2017 to only clear out the costs in the previous year, which made it a rest period for the grant.
“This year, we are back and are receiving a lot of applications, while hoping that more SMEs would participate in this,” she said at the “How to Leverage on the Financial Assistance Provided by Matrade” seminar in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Under the MDG programme, companies can apply for the reimbursable grant based on the eligible export promotional activities up to a ceiling amount of RM200,000.
To date, MDG has funded 7,811 local companies that have penetrated the Asean, China, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Turkey and Japan markets.
Sharimahton also said Matrade plans to tap into exporting companies that provide services in the information and communications technology, professional, construction and education sectors.
She said the number of SMEs that are onboard with e-commerce is small versus last year.
“Last year, we exceeded the number of 1,500 SMEs to get on board the Digital Free Trade Zone initiative, while this year the amount of funding we’ve had to disburse is much lower,” she said.
Sharimahton, however, said she is confident that it will rise towards the second half of the year as the corporation recently announced its collaboration with Avana to boost exports of SMEs through utilising e-commerce and social media.
Meanwhile, she said the seminar was coordinated to educate companies about Matrade’s financial assistance to export their businesses. “The offerings are in the form of a reimbursable grant or fund and some are paired with hand-holding activities aimed at building the SMEs’ abilities and skills in exporting,” she said.
“However, we do not have as many funds allocated for SEF in comparison, and require further involvement of companies that are in the services area to increase the demand,” she added.
The fund has financed 88 local companies in industries such as training, oil and gas services, and e-commerce solutions.