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KUALA LUMPUR: United Overseas Bank Malaysia Bhd (UOB Malaysia) will collaborate with three trade associations in Sabah to help local businesses finance their operations both locally and overseas, the bank said today.

The three trade associations are the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Association of Sabah, Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (Sabah) (MCCC Sabah)) and the Sabah-China Chambers of Commerce (SCCC).

Under the collaboration, UOB Malaysia will extend lending facilities and cross-border financial solutions to more than 300 SME owners affiliated with the SME Association of Sabah, MSCC Sabah and SCCC.

The Bank will offer the SMEs with conventional and Shariah-compliant financing solutions at competitive rates and flexible tenures as well as extend government-guaranteed, collateral-free financing schemes administered by Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd (SJPP).

The Bank will also provide association members with cross-border business advisory and financial solutions to help them expand into new markets.

UOB Malaysia managing director and country head of wholesale banking Ng Wei Wei said the bank will capitalise on its strong regional network and foreign direct investment advisory (FDI) teams to support Sabah’s SMEs in their efforts to diversify their businesses and to expand into the region.

“From navigating the local regulatory environment to connecting businesses with the right ecosystem partners, UOB Malaysia is committed to making SMEs’ foray into new markets seamless and successful.

"UOB Malaysia’s team of dedicated advisers from across the region will connect SMEs in Sabah with government agencies, trade and industry associations and professional service providers to help them invest and expand across Asia.

"UOB’s local presence in Malaysia, coupled with our regional network and deep understanding of Asian economies, places us in a good position to help our SME customers lay a strong foundation for their intra-regional growth and expansion plans. For example, through our nine FDI Advisory offices across Asia, UOB has supported more than 2,200 companies from around the world expand into Asia,” Ng said.

Further, UOB Malaysia will also provide shariah-compliant financial solutions to SMEs focused on making a positive economic, social and environmental impact for the long term through their sustainable business practices.

The adoption of shariah-compliant financing solutions to help businesses effect positive change is also in line with Bank Negara Malaysia’s objective to drive Value Based Intermediation 3 (VBI) practices through Islamic financing.

SMEs with sustainable business practices may qualify for subsidised financing rates under the government’s VBI initiative.

UOB Malaysia executive director and country head of Islamic banking Mohd Fhauzi Muridan said Islamic financing solutions provide a natural fit for businesses with sustainable practices and the bank is committed to ensuring its shariah-compliant product range enables businesses to achieve their goals.

"Given the social and environmental focus embedded in Islamic banking, coupled with its acceptance in Malaysia, Islamic banking can play a leading role in financing SMEs that are committed to achieving sustainability goals, he said.

Fhauzi said for example, the green technology sector that focuses on cultivating renewable energy, sustainable building and township projects, waste management and transportation projects has seen strong demand for Islamic financing in Malaysia.

"The ethos of Islamic banking makes it a natural ‘ethical’ financier for such projects. At UOB Malaysia, we are committed to supporting companies achieve their sustainability goals through our wide range of Shariah-compliant financing solutions," Fhauzi said.

President of the SME Association of Sabah Foo Ngee Kee see positive in collaborating with UOB Malaysia to offer its members access to shariah-compliant financing solutions.

"Through this collaboration, our members can get preferential and better access to financing for their current and new businesses. One of the major difficulties that SMEs face is in gaining access to capital and in securing the right amount and types of financing.

"With the financial advice and solutions that UOB Malaysia has developed for SMEs, I am confident the growth of SMEs can be greatly enhanced,” he said.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/business/2019/08/510271/uob-malaysia-collaborate-sabahs-trade-bodies-help-local-businesses