Dare to go global, local SME operators urged

Awang Tengah hits the gong to mark the opening of the state-level KUD 2016 in Bintulu.

Awang Tengah hits the gong to mark the opening of the state-level KUD 2016 in Bintulu.

BINTULU: Operators of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should be bold in venturing into the global market and to do so, they must be able to improve the quality of their products and services.

Industrial Development Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan noted that over 90 per cent of business entities in the country comprised the SMEs – making it a key sector in that it has been contributing significantly to the nation’s economic growth.

He said as an effort to enhance the sector, the government had come up with various development programmes and assistance for local entrepreneurs, whom he advised against depending too much on the local market.

“In Sarawak, we only have a population of about 2.5 million. If you’re only focusing on the local market, you would not be able to expand your business,” he said after launching Karnival Usahawan Desa (KUD) at the old airport site here yesterday. He was representing Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

Awang Tengah highlighted Asean as a viable market for local SMEs, where they could promote their products and services before venturing into the larger global market.

“We have the capability to enter this huge (Asean) market; for example, in food industry in which we have vast land and abundant resources.”

Awang Tengah then urged local SMEs to keep upgrading themselves with relevant skills and knowledge in meeting international standards.

Information Technology (IT), he said, should be fully utilised as a platform to further promote their offerings.

In a related development, Awang Tengah said Sarawak had emerged as one of the top destinations for investment in the country.

According to him, the state managed to attract RM9.6 billion in 2014 and this figure increased to RM11.81 billion last year.

The political stability and business-friendly government who had introduced many favourable policies and decisions had managed to attract investments – both domestic and foreign – into the state, he added. He highlighted Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), which had received more than RM30 billion worth of investments.

On this division, Awang Tengah said it remained vital to the state’s growth and as such, he hoped all parties would be united and working closely in attracting more investments.

“It is not just about mega projects – there’d be spin-off effects including lots of job opportunities and hopefully, our SMEs would grab these opportunities.”

According to Awang Tengah, the state government and Petronas had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a joint study for Sarawak Petrochemical Masterplan, which would have Bintulu as its hub.

Meanwhile, federal Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the state-level KUD here would target a turnout of more than 10,000 visitors this year.

“Another target is to gain RM1 million in sales, with the creation of 100 business networks,” he said, adding that the carnival should be the best platform for local entrepreneurs, especially those from the rural areas, to promote their offerings.

“As we all know, marketing is the main issue for our rural entrepreneurs. Hopefully through this carnival, they would be able to gain more business opportunities and wider networking,” said Sabri

The three-day event is hosting 150 enterprises mainly from the rural areas across the state, offering over 500 types of products and services. Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi and Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing were also present at the opening ceremony.