- Entrepreneurs need to be ready to accept risks and challenges
- Government agencies are ready and able to guide entrepreneurs
SMALL and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia are fortunate that there are a plethora of government agencies to provide them with support. But just how much support should be given so as not to stifle competitiveness and innovation?
“The government’s main challenge is in creating a sustainable environment where businesses can run but also reduce the risk of failure,” said Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) executive director for entrepreneurship development Jonathan Lee.
Lee was speaking during a panel session with a number of government agencies to highlight the different services they offer.
The panel was held in conjunction with last month's MaGIC’s Academy Symposium 2016 where 2,000 entrepreneurs, start-ups and social entrepreneurs gathered to exchange ideas and gain new perspectives.
Many options open to entrepreneurs
There are many government agencies ready to guide entrepreneurs through the various steps in setting up a business. Inevitably, the first hurdle most entrepreneurs face in the early stage of their business is getting access to funding. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as walking into a bank and asking for a loan.
To address this situation, the Credit Guarantee Corporation (CGC) Malaysia was formed to help SMEs gain access to financing. “It is all a matter of how much capital you are willing to risk. A bank will not lend you money without you having to fork out your own money,” explained CGC’s senior vice president for Bumiputera development and products Mohamed Azman Mohamad Taufik.
To help entrepreneurs get on their feet, Azman said CGC has direct financing products such as BizMula-i that helps eligible entrepreneurs by providing financing of RM50,000 to RM300,000 with a repayment tenure of seven years. Even if they don’t have experience or a proven track record but are able to meet the criteria set by CGC’s credit department, they will receive the funds required to start their business.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs with creative ideas for innovative products and services can turn to PlatCOM Ventures for help with commercialising their innovations. “We focus on national innovation. It is very inspiring to see that our local universities have really good ideas but they are not brought into the marketplace,” said commercialisation specialist Tan Siao Ping. “We visit these universities and conduct business-matching exercises to find companies that are interested in bringing these innovations to the marketplace.”
Besides obtaining financing and market access, it is crucial that entrepreneurs protect their brand and intellectual property by patenting them. The Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) is the government agency in charge of managing patents, trademarks, copyrights and intellectual property. Inventions that are registered with MyIPO will be part of a worldwide database.
“If you don’t register your invention, your design will have no value at all. Neither will you know if it is new or unique,” warned MyIPO assistant director Azizul Rokman. “Under the Intellectual Property Act, if a business does not register an idea or brand, they won’t have any power to fight for it if it is claimed by another party.”
Though drafting a patent can be costly, the process is now easier than before and comes at no cost to inventors as the Malaysian government has agreed to support and fund all patent drafting exercises. Inventors need only register their idea at MyIPO with a qualified patent drafter.
Part and parcel of the journey
An entrepreneur’s journey is fraught with many challenges and risk comes with the territory. Entrepreneurs must accept that risk, explained MaGIC’s Lee.
With risk comes the possibility of failure but one should not fear failure but ponder upon what do after failing. “There is no stopping failure. We can only minimise the risk. If you are afraid of risk you shouldn’t be an entrepreneur. Do you learn from your mistakes or cry about the government not helping you? Get back up and try again. That is what becoming an entrepreneur is all about," he says.
“Entrepreneurs by nature are very passionate and innovative people. They won’t let a challenge stop them from achieving their goals. If need be they would pivot their business model,” he concluded. And with the wide range of Malaysian government agencies ready to help them along the way, those that show persistence will inevitably find some support and help along their tough journey.
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