KUALA LUMPUR: Small and medium business (SME) development remains one of the key elements in the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Foundation’s agenda, says Secretary-General Tan Sri Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak.
He said the institution would also continue to support the government’s effort to uplift the SMEs, particularly start-ups, by organising various programmes including conferences such as “IdeaLab 2016”.
“This second IdeaLab is attended by 537 participants including start-ups, corporates and investors from 32 countries, as well as more than 80 investors,” Ahmad Fuzi told reporters after the launch of the conference here today.
He said the investors, mostly from Asean, New Zealand, Japan and Iran, comprise venture capitalists and business angels looking to invest in technology companies.
With investments of between US$10,000 (RM41,955) and RM500,000, these investors are looking for innovative Internet services, e-commerce market places, mobile applications and fintech (financial technology), said Ahmad Fuzi.
The conference was launched by Communications and Multimedia Deputy Minister Datuk Jailani Johari.
In his speech, Jailani said Malaysia already has the infrastructure and platforms in place for the SMEs and start-ups to grow, with another RM100 million allocated under the 2017 Budget for this group.
Businesses need a conducive environment and strong support structure to expand, and in the digital age it is all about being connected, he said.
Jailani said currently, Malaysia enjoys over 75% connectivity, with the target to reach 95% during the 11th Malaysia Plan period.
The government had proposed an allocation of RM1 billion to further improve broadband networks across the nation and boost the country’s e-commerce sector, which is expected to grow at 11% next year, he added.
Jailani said the Malaysian government has created smart communities to bring the country into the Internet economy.
“Smart communities are guided by seven principles ranging from upgrading infrastructure to engagement with local authorities, local institutions and strategic partners, and developing applications relevant to local communities.
“Among the successful smart community projects is the 1Malaysia Internet Centre in Kemaman, Terengganu, which not only provides collective broadband access but also has many flagship initiatives, including an award-winning Flood Management System,” he said.
Another success story is the Innovation Centre in Kemaman, an accelerator development scheme designed to drive creativity and entrepreneurship as well as maximise and capitalise on opportunities in the various markets, Jailani said.
“Now the Innovation Centre is being replicated in various parts of the country such as Kota Belud in Sabah and Lundu in Sarawak,” he added.
Themed “Building Ecosystem”, the two-day conference aims to connect Asean start-ups and global investors. — Bernama