THE eTRADE programme by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), aimed at assisting local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) boost exports for goods and services, is seeing better response.
This indicates improved acceptance towards online export among Malaysian SMEs.
Of the 417 applications received since the programme was launched last October, 328 SMEs have been approved and had received their eTRADE e-vouchers, enabling them to be on international online marketplaces.
And of the 328 firms, 253 were from the manufacturing line, 61 trading companies, while the remaining 14 were service providers.
The eTRADE vouchers work as an initial subscription fee for SMEs to be on the online platform of these marketplaces. So far, Matrade has come up with vouchers worth RM1,000 and RM2,500 to partially fund the cost of the listing/subscription fee.
“This is part of the Government’s efforts in helping SMEs reach out globally.
“But there is still more to be done and we at Matrade want to get the message across that SMEs can now get their products and services out in the markets abroad by subscribing to leading e-marketplaces,” said Susila Devi, deputy chief executive officer of Matrade in an interview recently.
Susila said Matrade was still in the process of engaging with other international e-marketplaces, including e-Bay, Rakuten, IndiaMart and Lazada to establish a collaboration with them.
“This is to see how we can get the best deals for our SMEs here,” she said.
Susila pointed out that the eTRADE programme was mooted to increase the adoption of e-commerce among local SMEs.
However, SMEs were not embracing e-commerce as much as they should, Susila said, adding that cost, lack of skill and technology know-how and other concerns on security and logistics were contributing factors to this.
“If cost is an issue, then this is what the Government is giving to help SMEs start by partially defraying the subscription cost to be on an international online marketplace,” said Susila.
SMEs should not fear or feel insecure, she said, as once they were approved under the programme, various training programmes would be provided by the credible marketplaces to ensure that they were equipped with the skills to market their products and services.
But, she explained that one needed to understand the concept of eTRADE.
“This is for the business to business (B2B) transactions and it is for the long-term,” said Susila, adding that the marketplaces sought after by Matrade had to be reliable and a proven track record.
And in the current economic situation, she said the online method of exporting should be aggressively utilised.
However, for SMEs’ online presence to be more effective, they must be supported by dedicated staff to update product information and images regularly, apart from handling online enquiries from potential buyers in real time.
Matrade had recently collaborated with Alibaba.com through its B2B Alibaba.com Gold Supplier Package. A total of 210 SMEs are now listed on the platform.
Susila said SMEs had generated sales from international buyers from countries like Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia, among others, while some had received serious trade enquiries from potential buyers.
Susila said SMEs account for 99% of all business establishments in the country, but their contribution to exports was still low at 19%.
“SMEs are important to the country as they generate employment opportunities apart from contributing to the country gross domestic product.
“So, our aim by 2020 under the SME masterplan is to increase their export contribution to 23%,” she said, adding that it was important to get them on credible and reliable marketplaces.
Matrade is now looking at other platforms in China, the United Kingdom and India to collaborate with.
Under the trading and service providers segment, companies not exceeding RM20mil in annual turnover or not more than 75 full-time employees, are eligible for the eTRADE programme.
For the manufacturing sector (including agriculture), those with annual turnover of not more than RM50mil or less than 200 full-time employees would be eligible.
The eTRADE programme, implemented by Matrade under Digital Malaysia is a joint collaboration with MDeC, targeted at accelerating SME exports by subscribing to well-known and reliable e-marketplaces abroad.
It is open to SMEs that are selling Malaysian products and services. Firms that are ready to export, or exporting are encouraged to apply for the e-vouchers.
Interested companies can visit www.matrade.gov.my to register in the eTRADE programme.
This article is brought to you by Matrade.