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      23 January 2019  

SEDIA continues to assist SME development in Sabah

Kota Kinabalu (Wednesday) - The Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) received a courtesy visit this morning by the Small and Medium Enterprise Association of Sabah (SME Sabah). The SME Sabah delegation, led by President cum Co-Founder Foo Ngee Kee and comprising of their council members, was received by SEDIA Chief Executive Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub Johari, and together held a discussion on potential collaboration towards enhancing development of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Sabah. SEDIA welcomes the opportunities in working closely with SME Sabah to create a vibrant eco-system supportive of SMEs' participation in the state and national economies.

  SEDIA Chief Executive Datuk Dr. Mohd Yaakub Johari (fifth from left) presenting a memento to SME Sabah President Foo Ngee Kee (fifth from right)

SME Sabah was established on March 29, 2018 by Foo, Datuk Frankie Liew, Michael Chin, and Ngan Yoke Loo. The association functions with the objective of promoting SMEs within the state, while also providing necessary assistance and information to SMEs and relevant business sectors. The association convened for its first general meeting on April 25, 2018 during which its council members were appointed.

SEDIA was established on January 15, 2009, through the adoption of Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority Enactment 2009. The Enactment was assented by the Tuan Yang Terutama Negeri Sabah on February 23, 2009, and gazetted on February 26, 2009. Through the enactment, SEDIA is vested with the necessary power to serve as a decision-making and execution institution that is tasked with realising the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) vision and mission, by being the One-Stop Authority to plan, coordinate, promote and accelerate the development of SDC. SDC had launched on January 29, 2008 during the Ninth Malaysia Plan as one of Malaysia's five regional economic corridors, with the aim to accelerate the growth of Sabah's economy, promote regional balance and bridge the urban-rural divide, while ensuring sustainable management of state resources.

As SEDIA is the One-Stop Authority for SDC, SME Sabah council members were keen to also hear about available investment incentives and measures to support SME development in Sabah. Investment incentives offered under the SDC utilise a regional approach, which differ from the sectoral tax incentives generally offered throughout Malaysia. Under SDC, investors are eligible for 100 percent tax exemption for a period up to ten years, available for specific regions or clusters as specified under SDC Strategic Development Areas (SDAs).

Upon hearing about the SDC SDAs, the visiting delegation was keen to know more about the Sabah Agro-Industrial Precinct (SAIP) in Kimanis. President Foo Ngee Kee mentioned that several SME Sabah members are involved in agriculture downstream activities, and he was keen to hear about assistance provided in this industry. With an estimated area of 185 acres, SAIP is envisaged as a centre of excellence in agro-biotechnology that optimises the state's biodiversity and abundant natural resources to produce higher value-added food and specialty products based on botanicals, aquatic plants and animals. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to participate in the Agro-SAIP training programme, which have benefitted 2,021 participants from throughout Sabah over the span of 36 courses since its inception in 2012, which assist local SMEs to enhance their skills, expertise and capabilities. The Agro-SAIP training programme was established with the aim to empower technopreneurs in the agro-based industry, by giving the necessary exposure and transfer of knowledge, especially on the processing of agro-food and specialty natural products (SNPs). Through the training programme, participants are given access to experienced speakers and industry representatives in various sectors; speakers well-versed in pharma-herbs, controlled environment farming, post-harvest handling technology, agro-organic and agro-food industries, business and marketing through e-commence, and bio-science and biotechnology had been invited to come and share their experience and expertise with participants.

Meanwhile, having realised the potential of SME contributions to the state economy, SEDIA had developed initiatives and has been actively involved in SME development in Sabah since during the Second Phase of SDC (2011-2015) and into the current Third and final Phase of SDC (2016-2025). The SME programmes are also in line with one of the three principles of SDC, which is capturing economic value activities. The SDC SME programmes are to help entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies to discover business ideas, validate as well as scale up their ventures.

A crucial component of SDC SME programmes has been the SDC SME Incubator programme, conducted over a two-year period through two types of setups based on SMEs' location, namely In-Situ and Ex-Situ Incubation. As at December 2018, there are a total of 153 approved In-Situ and Ex-Situ incubatees, and a total of RM13.73 million in grants provided for these incubatees.

The SDC initiatives by SEDIA support, and are aligned with, the State and Federal governments' efforts and initiatives to develop local and bumiputera SMEs, so as to increase the number of locally developed businesses, products and services. In Budget 2019, the Sabah Government allocated RM24.45 million for special fund and loan for entrepreneurial development including for youths, to help encourage the activities of SMEs in Sabah, thus highlighting their importance and contribution to the state economy. Recent investments in Sabah had been largely contributed by domestic investment, reflecting a positive development to the government's efforts in intensifying value-added activities among local entrepreneurs and investors.

SEDIA also continues to work closely with government agencies at the State and Federal level. Over the past years, SEDIA has been participating in exhibitions and expositions both locally and internationally, working closely with investment promotion agencies, including MITI as well as MIDA and MATRADE. These efforts include overseas trade and investment missions, engaging with representatives and business delegations of foreign countries, attending meetings and promotion-related events at the national and international level, and to explore and attract the many forms of investments from around the globe.

- Media SEDIA

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