PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): A total of RM18.2mil has been set aside for programmes and assistance specifically for women and persons with disabilities (OKU) entrepreneurs through a partnership between the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry (Medac) and Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM).

Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (pic) said Medac, via its agencies, has agreed to work with KPWKM to assist the target groups mainly in the post-COVID-19 recovery and to expand their operations.

"The allocation will be used for various programmes including training, financing assistance, coaching and soft loans which aim to produce more competitive, dynamic and resilient entrepreneurs, ” he said Tuesday (April 13).

Among the agencies under Medac involved in the initiative include the National Entrepreneurship Institute (Insken), Tekun Nasional, SME Corp and Perbadanan Nasional Bhd (PNS) which will collaborate with agencies under KPWKM, namely the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) as well as the Social Welfare Department.

Wan Junaidi pointed out that women entrepreneurs were among those severely affected by the pandemic as most of them were in the micro and informal (unregistered) categories, and running businesses that are in non-essential sectors such as aesthetics, fashion, spa, beauty, event management and wedding planning.

Wan Junaidi said Medac was focusing to assist these businesses to go digital as Covid-19 has certainly enhanced the need for businesses to adopt, adapt and embrace technology.

He added that Medac, via PNS, was keen to work with KPWKM to identify potential women-owned businesses that could be developed into a homegrown franchise brand.

He said that franchise was a powerful platform that can help accelerate the growth of the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and that PNS, through its various programmes, can provide hand-holding programmes that would ensure the success of those interested to venture into this business.

Wan Junaidi said PNS under its five-year plan strategy is targeting a minimum of 5,000 financing approvals to entrepreneurs which is expected to expand the franchise portfolio by 400% from RM178mil to RM700mil.

This is expected to create 18,000 jobs and contribute RM4.4bil towards the Gross Domestic Product, he said.