KOTA KINABALU: Women entrepreneurs in Sabah seeking financial assistance from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) can now approach the state’s Community Development and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPMHEP) for help.
Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Ahmad Maslan said he had agreed to the arrangement after Datuk Amisah Yassin suggested that the MITI financial assistance allocation for women in Sabah be channelled directly to the state ministry during the Women Entrepreneur Seminar and Dialogue Program here, yesterday.
Earlier on during the ceremony, KPMHEP Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid highlighted issues in securing loans as one of the main problems faced by Sabah¡¦s women entrepreneurs, which has led some to turn to loan sharks for money.
Amisah later on during the question-and-answer session of the program reiterated the difficulties in getting the needed financial assistance to Ahmad.
“Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia has helped around 336,000 women¡Kbillions of funds, from RM2,000 to RM150,000 loan. However this loan is specifically to take them out of the poverty circle, which is called Sahabat Amanah Ikhtiar,¡¨ he said during the program, which was organized by MITI and the state ministry.
¡§The non-performing loans (NPLs) of the Amanah Ikhtiar is only 1.4%. Majority, 99% of the 336,000, are women¡K single mothers. We want to help women and women are the best in paying back the loans in the country,¡¨ elaborated Ahmad, adding that figures show more than a dozen for men.
¡§Women are responsible in paying back and I agree with the (Community Development and Consumer Affairs) ministry being the coordinator for the time being before we decide to channel (funding),¡¨ offered the deputy minister as an alternative.
Ahmad elaborated that the state¡¦s ministry, which is helmed by Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid, should give out relevant information to direct women entrepreneurs to the 10 available MITI funds for women entrepreneurs nationwide from its bodies such as SME Corp, SME Bank, and Malaysian Industrial Development Finance (MIDF).
At a press conference held before starting the program, Ahmad also stressed that MITI and its agencies, namely Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), SME Corp, SME Bank, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC), Halal Industry Development Corporation,were committed to helping women entrepreneurs in the country.
¡§MITI will continue to intensify the development of Bumiputera entrepreneurs. At the same time, MITI also as the agency to assist the country, particularly in terms of exports and, specifically also, in terms of investment, will continue to help all the other groups of entrepreneurs.
¡§ We know that in our country, entrepreneurship is spearheaded by the Chinese community and us, particularly in terms of trade,¡¨ said Ahmad.
He explained the ministry’s main task was to increase exports as well as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) attainment and Domestic Direct Investment (DDI) expansion.
¡§That is important to us, but in particular, the bumiputera entrepreneurship chapters would also be our focus. In addition, a smaller specialization, but no less and equally important, women’s entrepreneurship, as can be seen through the program today,¡¨ he emphasized.
Ahmad, who is also UMNO information chief, visited Sabah for the first time since being appointed as MITI Deputy Minister, earlier this year.
During the press conference, Jainab expressed hope that the newly appointed deputy minister would be able to help in the entrepreneurial segment of Sabah¡¦s women development.
According to Jainab, KPMHEP is in the midst of reviving its Wisma Wanita, which houses many of the state¡¦s women non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and businesses.
The minister elaborated that Wisma Wanita was also expecting to open a Borneo Mart, a distribution centre of standardized priced consumer goods to markets on the outskirt of towns and rural areas, as well as becoming a venue for disabled bodies to run their businesses for extra income.
She also hoped that with Ahmad¡¦s appointment, women entrepreneurs in Sabah would be able to gain assistance in acquiring the Halal certification for their businesses.
The program, which also consists of SME Corp and SME Bank briefings, was attended by over 200 women and a few men from across Sabah such as Sepanggar, Penampang, Tuaran, Ranau and even Kuching, Sarawak.