Sunday, September 27

Sabah plans to set up SME village

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KOTA KINABALU: A ‘village’ for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) is being planned to enable the public to get access to their products throughout the year.

Pushing the concept of clustering and bringing SMEs to work together at a designated area, Industrial Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah said that the idea was mooted as they believe the entrepreneurs could work better when they are able to cooperate within themselves.

“We want to develop the idea of clustering the SMEs in terms of their production in one single place; it would be like a one-stop centre for them. We would provide them the infrastructure, equipment and also financial assistance,” he said.

Basically, he said they were thinking of putting the SME Village at the food hub of the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) which houses a designated area for food and halal food.

“We realise that most SMEs are related to food production. However, we are still working out a proper plan to put all SMEs together.

“At the same time, we probably will be putting up a centre to enable them to exhibit their products, rather than waiting for the annual show that is carried out once a year as this is not enough to promote their goods. It is better to have a permanent place so whatever their produce are, they can just go there to sell,” he added.

Tan said such a concept was being practised in other countries such as Thailand, South Korea and Japan, and he hoped the idea could be done “as quickly as possible”.

“This village would incorporate relevant components essential to the successful operation of this village, such as infrastructures, procurement centres for inputs and materials, manufacturing facilities, logistics, marketing and promotion, and a systematic government assistance framework,” said Tan.

Having said that, he said it was also important to get the right feedback from the players.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Small Medium Enterprise/One District One Industry (SME/ODOI) Entrepreneurs Carnival at Likas Sports Complex, near here yesterday, Tan also hoped through the concept they would be able to encourage the development of SMEs in the state.

“The idea will be moved within ministry level to develop the concept and plan, and we will be working closely with KKIP and together with the SMEs to ensure its success.

Earlier in his speech, Tan said both the state and federal governments recognised the importance of SMEs and as such had put into place various programmes and activities as well as a conducive policy framework to further nurture and develop the sector.

“SMEs constitute an important part in the state economic and overall progress and development as they represent some 96.5 per cent from the overall business establishments in Sabah. In 2011, there were an estimated 30,000 SME establishments in the state. Despite having the numbers, SMEs’ participation in functions such as providing employment, creating entrepreneurs and promoting entrepreneurship culture, assisting in income distribution, development of new and innovative products as well as boosting regional development, exports and value-adding of existing products are still low.

“Realising this, the state government along with those at federal level, are organising various programmes and activities to further develop SMEs in Sabah by providing assistance in terms of production, product development, producing new products, management, funding, technology utilisation, promotion and marketing, and business chains, to mention some,” he said.

Towards this end, at the federal level, the government has established the National Small and Medium Enterprise Development Council, spearheaded by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and at the same time, also establish the SME Corporation, or SME Corp in short, to streamline and coordinate the many SME programmes being implemented by the government.

“At state level, we also have many programmes and activities to assist SMEs in Sabah. Last year, we reported at least 10 government agencies implementing programmes involving a funding of some RM12 million benefiting around 3,000 people.

“We are optimistic that the implementation of all these programmes can further transform Sabah SMEs from one of small, low value-added, inward looking and dependent on government assistance, to one which is resilient, sustaining, independent, export oriented and vibrant,” said Tan.

He added that in order to move these SMEs towards greater heights, his ministry would be aggressively taking various initiatives.