Axiata, Celcom, Boost Launch US$34.2mil Fund to assist Micro SMEs Hit by Covid-19
By Digital News Asia March 25, 2020
- 150k micro SMEs to benefit from shariah compliant micro-financing through Aspirasi
- 3-min online process, funding available in 48 hours from SMEs bank accounts
As part of their ongoing corporate community commitment, Axiata Group Bhd (Axiata) together with its subsidiaries Celcom Axiata Bhd (Celcom), edotco Group (edotco) and Axiata Digital has announced the launch of a US$34.2 million (RM150 million) cash fund to provide financial assistance to micro-SMEs. Axiata’s Covid-19 Assistance Program includes an initial contribution of US$4.6 million (RM20 million) from the Ministry of Finance.
The Covid-19 Assistance Program serves as a direct and urgent intervention by Axiata to give immediate assistance to micro-SMEs facing financial difficulties arising from the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent Movement Control Order (MCO) issued by the Government of Malaysia which saw the closure of all non-essential businesses.
Under the current challenging conditions, micro-SMEs, which easily make up more than 50% of SMEs in Malaysia and fall mostly within the B40 segment of society, will face mounting difficulties in operating their businesses. Micro-SMEs tend to have minimal savings and cash flow to buffer against unpredictable events and will not have sufficient funds to sustain daily needs.
In continuing to play its role as partner in national development, Axiata will offer shariah compliant micro-financing through its subsidiary Axiata Digital, riding on the latter’s Aspirasi digital platform, in the range of RM1,000 to RM10,000 and on favourable terms. This is targeted to benefit an estimate of 150,000 micro-SMEs within Boost, Aspirasi and Celcom’s ecosystem, as well as within other ecosystems including its e-commerce and FMCG partners and potentially other telcos and e-wallets.
[RM1 = US$0.22]
Interest and payment terms include suspended repayment requirements and concessional interest rates. In addition, Axiata’s Covid-19 Assistance Program will also bundle micro-insurance coverage under Aspirasi to protect micro-SME proprietors and merchants with emergency income, accidental death and Covid-19 assistance. For more information about the program, please visit www.aspirasi.co.
Most importantly, by leveraging Aspirasi’s advanced digital technology, micro-SMEs will only be required to undergo a quick 3-minute online process and if approved, funding will be made available in 48 hours from their bank accounts. This allows for ease of applications to be made during the MCO period and for funds to be quickly and efficiently disbursed to businesses in need, with minimal or no human intervention.
Axiata and its group of Malaysian companies in the past number of years have been building a strong base of micro SMEs within its ecosystem, successfully established through the following platforms:
- Celcom, Malaysia’s leading network operator with an extensive footprint of 75,000 SME customers, dealers and merchants with heavy rural and East Malaysia presence
- Boost, Malaysia’s leading cashless lifestyle e-wallet with 150,000 merchants on-board to date
- Aspirasi, Malaysia’s first fully digital fintech financier, with over RM60 million micro-financing to date across Malaysia and Indonesia
“We are living in an unprecedented time where many of us are grappling with the rapidly evolving global crisis. None of us have ever experienced something like this in our lifetime!” says Jamaludin Ibrahim, Axiata’s President and Group Chief Executive Officer. (pic)
“As our government and institutions battle on the hour to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus within our communities, corporate Malaysia is also rising to the fore to leverage on our resources and capabilities to alleviate the impact on businesses and communities. We have a very tight window to cast a lifeline to quickly get them back on their feet in order to weather and recover from the pandemic,” Jamaludin stresses.
The catalyst for Axiata’s move was its realization that while banks are playing their role to provide relief for SMEs, yet there is also the critical need to address the requirements of hundreds of thousands of smaller SMEs that may not meet the standard criteria for bank loans.
“We have a national duty to contribute whatever we can to help – as fast and as much as we can. This micro lending RM150 million cash program is one area we can assist in our own small way, quickly and efficiently,” Jamaludin adds.
Axiata Digital’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohd Khairil Abdullah adds, “We are fortunate that our fully digital and shariah compliant micro-financing Aspirasi platform can be quickly redeployed to help micro-SMEs in this current extremely challenging environment.”
Meanwhile, Idham Nawawi, Celcom’s Chief Executive Officer stresses the telco’s long commitment to helping SMEs. “As a brand committed to national interests, we have been serving and supporting small businesses for over 30 years. Celcom is grateful to be able to play a role in the rebuilding of Malaysian micro SMEs at a time when the need is at its greatest.”
Thankful for the strong group-wide support, from Celcom and edotco for help in funding the program and Axiata Digital for leading the effort with partners, Jamaludin also thanked the government. “I would especially like to extend my utmost gratitude to the Ministry of Finance for their generous support and encouragement that allowed us to realise this special national Covid-19 Assistance Program.”
The Axiata group chief also extended a hand to Malaysian corporations to join Axiata and be part of the program to make a meaningful difference in the livelihood of small businesses.