i2M believes new role will help spur further SSO investments in Iskandar Puteri
By Goh Thean Eu June 2, 2016
- Attracted RM1.2bil and helped create over 2,200 new jobs so far
- On track to attract RM6.5bil worth of investments and create 14K new jobs
AFTER playing a facilitating role to attract businesses to invest in the Business Services and Shared Services and Outsourcing (SSO) sector in Iskandar Puteri over the past three years, i2M Ventures Sdn Bhd is now all set to play a more active role in growing the ecosystem.
“When we first set up for the journey, the original thinking was that we would play more of a facilitation role,” said i2M Ventures managing director Zulfiqar Zainuddin (pic above).
“We didn’t want to create any confusion in the market, and we didn’t want to create a new level of bureaucracy,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur recently.
Iskandar Puteri, formerly known as Nusajaya, is a city located within the southern development hub of Iskandar Malaysia in the state of Johor, while i2M is a wholly-owned unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.
Zulfiqar said that during that three-year period, i2M helped potential investors in “all areas,” such as helping them understand the tax incentives that are available, helping them with the paperwork, and so on.
However, he felt that there were a few things that were impeding growth.
“First, Iskandar Puteri is a greenfield location. Second, SSO is a new industry to the location, and to policy-makers, developers, and talents. Third, companies that were coming over were setting up in a this greenfield location – they were going into the unknown.
“When I presented these key things to the board, they felt that this could be a recipe for disaster.
“That’s why we felt we needed to play an active role in driving development,” he added.
With that in mind, i2M recently launched the Iskandar GBS programme to help businesses locate their global business services (GBS) operations in Iskandar Puteri.
Restructured for new mission
i2M has changed significantly from three years ago. In the past, it had two teams: The investor solutions team and the client support team.
“Back then, when we talked to a potential client, we would also talk to universities and human resources (HR) companies to help come up with a solution for that client,” said Zulfiqar.
“Today, we also have the ‘ecosystem team’ which will talk to the players and develop programmes that can be offered to everyone who comes, or is looking to come in.
“Now, there is a more macro view to it all,” he added.
i2M is also working closely with key partners such as government agencies, industry associations, and business federations.
“We will connect with all parties so that all of them can speak the same language when it comes to GBS opportunities in Iskandar Puteri,” said Zulfiqar.
Iskandar Puteri has managed to attract committed investments of RM1.2 billion (US$292 million) over a five-year period from seven companies collectively. These investments are expected to create 2,200 new jobs too.
“These companies … have already shown their commitment by hiring locals for close to 80% of their workforce, and are also creating jobs that have average salaries of about RM6,000 (US$1,500) a month, which is higher than the national average,” said Zulfiqar.
He said he was unable to reveal the names of these companies, but declared that an increasingly number of large multinationals are paying attention to i2M and Iskandar Puteri.
“Some of the companies that are coming to us are Fortune 500 companies,” he added.
He is also optimistic that i2M would be able to attract more investments this year.
“I think we already have a healthy pipeline, and we hope to announce more soon,” he added.
Besides its changing role, i2M is also now more equipped with more data to address potential investors’ concerns, according to Zulfiqar.
“One of the most common questions we get is, “Where are you going to get the talent?’
“In the past, we had no proof-points to answer this, or even to defray any perception that people would not come and work in Iskandar Puteri.
“Today, we have the data. We can bring people to see the offices. We have a better understanding of the talent that is available in Iskandar Puteri, and where these people come from,” he added.
While Zulfiqar believes that more progress can be made, he can’t help but feel some measure of pride in i2M’s achievements thus far.
With its more active role, the company is in a better position to hit its long-term goal: To create 14,000 new jobs and attract RM6.5 billion (US$1.6 billion) worth of investments over the next five years, which includes the 2,200 jobs and RM1.2 billion already on its scorecard.
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