Image credit: New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 24): Although there is an increase in the number of small and medium enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs' participation in the digitisation platform until January 2020, the percentage of SME entrepreneurs moving to the e-Commerce platform can still be increased.

Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC) Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the increase in the number of SME entrepreneurs participating in digitalisation could come from rural areas and those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the Malaysian SME Digital 2018 survey conducted by SME Corp Malaysia and Huawei Technologies Malaysia Sdn Bhd, majority of SMEs use computers and the internet as a medium of business operations.

“The survey also found that SMEs are still facing problems to improve business operations from computing to digitisation. These problems consist of issues such as high cost of digitisation, adaptation of technology, providing infrastructure and proper digital usage skills to be implemented in their company's operations,” he said in a statement here, today.

MEDAC, through SME Corp Malaysia, has been entrusted as a leader in one of the initiatives under the National E-Commerce Strategic Direction Plan (NESR), which is expected to accelerate the implementation of e-Commerce among entrepreneurs.

From 2016 until May 31, 2020, a total of 322,834 SMEs participated in the e-Commerce platform, while a total of 171,776 SMEs attended training through various programmes conducted by e-Commerce strategic partners, associations and government agencies.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector contributed RM267.7 billion or 18.5 per cent to Malayia’s gross domestic product (GDP) component for 2018.

Based on a survey conducted by SME Corp Malaysia on the adaptation of ICT among SMEs, there is an increase in terms of SME involvement in online business from 26 per cent in 2016 to 37 per cent in 2018. For 2019, SME participation in online business is 35.3 per cent.

As of Jan 31, 2020, a total of 276,176 entities have registered as online businesses through registration at the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM).

MEDAC has provided various courses and programmes on business digitization to assist entrepreneurs who are interested in growing their business or converting their business concept to the e-Commerce platform.

Agencies such as Institut Keusahawanan Negara Bhd (INSKEN), SME Corp and Co-operative Institute of Malaysia (IKM) have provided various programmes and courses to help SME and micro-entrepreneurs, especially for entrepreneurs affected adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic.

MEDAC said it has also provided various courses and programmes on business digitisation to entrepreneurs who are interested in growing their business or converting their existing business concept to the eCommerce platform.

Agencies such as INSKEN, SME Corp and IKM have provided various programmes and courses online, it added.

“In addition to the various initiatives that is currently being done by MEDAC, I have asked the ministry and all agencies under MEDAC to think, research new initiatives and implement additional programmes to help and further increase the number of e-Commerce entrepreneurs,” Wan Junaidi said.

To adapt to the digital economy as a whole, SMEs must be able to re-engineer their businesses by ensuring that their business strategies, processes and infrastructure are aligned and integrated to support digital transformation.

Moving forward, ICT has a huge role to play in doubling the growth of SMEs not only through improvements in efficiency and productivity, but also in expanding the market reach for our entrepreneurs, he added.