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Targetted assistance for Malaysian micro-entrepreneurs

THE STAR – Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) aims to assist a total of 85,000 micro-entrepreneurs this year in efforts to restore business capacity affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent floods.

BSN chief business officer Mujibburrahman Abd Rashid said of the total, 25,000 entrepreneurs are expected to be assisted through the Semarak Niaga Keluarga Malaysia Scheme (SemarakNiaga), while another 60,000 entrepreneurs would be receiving benefits through digital matching grants.

“We have seen micro-enterprises as one of the earliest sectors to recover after all economic sectors were re-opened and interstate travel restrictions were lifted.

“I believe that more micro-entrepreneurs need help to boost their business back to pre-pandemic levels or better than ever before,” he told Bernama in a special interview recently.

Last year, BSN assisted 88,000 micro-entrepreneurs through a combination of previous financing schemes under Prihatin, Penjana and Pemerkasa, as well as digital matching grants.

On SemarakNiaga, Mujibburrahman said applications can be made from this month with the eligibility criteria being that the applicant is a micro-entrepreneur, whether the form of ownership is sole proprietorship, partnership, or Sdn Bhd owned by a Malaysian citizen.

He said the company must also be registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia or local authorities and have been in operation for not less than six months.

A fruit trader waits for customers in Malaysia. PHOTO: THE STAR

“As an institution mandated by the Finance Ministry to assist the country’s micro-entrepreneur sector, BSN offers a competitive rate of 4.0 per cent for this financing.

“Besides that, BSN also reduces the need for documentation to facilitate the applications. I am confident that SemarakNiaga will receive a very encouraging response,” he said.

The SemarakNiaga programme, which involves a financing package worth a total of RM40 billion, was announced by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz when presenting Budget 2022 in Parliament on October 29, 2021.

Under SemarakNiaga, micro-credit financing worth almost RM1.8 billion will be provided through various agencies such as BSN, Tekun Nasional, Agrobank, Bank Rakyat, and Bank Negara.

Meanwhile, Mujibburrahman said BSN remained committed to strengthening its mandate in ensuring Malaysians had comprehensive banking access, especially in the rural and remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak through the ‘Cawangan Bank Bergerak’ (CBB) or Mobile Bank Branch initiative.

He said through CBB, the rural community was able to have access to various banking services such as cash withdrawal transactions through automatic teller machines (ATMs), account opening with BSN debit card, cash savings, purchase of BSN premium savings certificate (BSN SSP), bill payments, utility bills, and top-ups.

CBB BSN Sarawak started operations on July 15, 2021 in Sungai Asap and Sebauh, while CBB BSN Sabah started operations on October 12, 2021 in Pitas, Paitan, Sook, Nabawan and Kalabakan.

“The response received is very encouraging. The total deposit transactions received from CBB Sarawak and CBB Sabah until December 9, 2021 stood at MYR235,554 involving 1,548 transactions.

“We expect an increase in net deposit growth of 12 per cent for 2022 from banking activities through CBB,” he said.

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