KUCHING: Despite achieving RM5.5 billion of new business loan applications in the first half of their financial year, AmBank Group Bhd (AmBank) setting its sights on expansion in Sarawak with new business centres and its ‘AmBank BizRace’ campaign.
Speaking to The Borneo Post in an exclusive interview yesterday, AmBank’s managing director for its business banking segment Christopher Yap revealed that the group is currently in the process of interviewing prospective team members to join and expand their Sarawakian operations.
“We are focusing mostly on the segment of businesses that have passed through their start-up phase and moving towards the mid to larger enterprises, and have already set up a new business centre in Kuching on Jalan Abel which focuses primarily on Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
“However, we feel that this is not enough, so we have plans to open a second centre in Kuching and two more – one in Miri and one in Sibu. That is our plan for the Sarawak region and we hope to finish the hiring process by this financial year which is March 31, 2018 for us.”
The new business centres are estimated to be able to reach out to 65 to 70 per cent of all SMEs in Sarawak and when completed, Yap anticipates that the number of new business loan applications from Sarawak will see significant growth.
“Currently, the new business loan applications from Sarawak only account for 5 per cent of AmBank’s RM5.5 billion figure.
And while the primary function of these business centres is to help provide financing to SMEs, Yap also emphasised that AmBank has felt that this approach was not sufficient to help fulfil their goals of helping SMEs scale upwards.
“From what we have gathered from our observations and feedback from customers, we realised that financing is only factor of them scaling their business.
“We realised that a lot of them were reach a stage of plateau and were struggling on how to scale and succeed in their businesses,” explained Yap.
“In conjunction with the upcoming new business centres, AmBank has also launched their AmBank BizRACE campaign as part of the bank’s continuous efforts in providing additional support to local SMEs.
The AmBank BizRACE campaign is a nationwide entrepreneurship challenge where C-suite individuals or owners of local SMEs who want to grow and scale their businesses may join in by submitting their business plans in order to stand a chance to win a variety of prizes that are worth over RM2 million.
The entire process of the race and its prizes are all geared towards helping the participants and winners scale their businesses upwards through critical development programmes, coaching sessions, networking opportunities and branding help.
Besides this, AmBank is also looking to capture a wider audience of SMEs through a series of knowledge-sharing events leading up to the AmBank BizRace.
These sessions are free and open to all SMEs regardless of whether they are participating in the race.
In Sarawak especially, Yap is hopeful that more SMEs will consider partaking in the event as he feels that local SMEs would find the process to be highly beneficial.
“In Sarawak region particularly, we have heard of many big companies but we do not hear of many home grown companies that actually make it to the whole country, region and especially to all parts of the world.
“Unfortunately, a lot of businesses in Sarawak are still in the traditional business model and we have not seen a lot of new or different businesses.
“I hope that local businesses will participate in the BizRACE so we can really zoom in on these companies to help them scale.” “It can be any industries and businesses, especially those in Kuching,” added Yap.
Registrations for the AmBank BizRACE are now open at www.ambankbizclub.comwww.ambankbizclub.comwww.ambankbizclub.com until November 12, 2017.