KUALA LUMPUR: SME Bank has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Johor Petroleum Development Corp Bhd (JPDC) to promote economic growth in Johor.

In a statement today, SME Bank Group president and CEO Datuk Wira Aria Putera Ismail said that since its establishment in 2005, SME Bank has approved more than RM47 billion in financing to 23,820 small and medium enterprises (SME), with RM560.74 million allocated specifically to entrepreneurs in Johor.

“We are ready to leverage our expertise in collaboration with the JPDC, the federal government’s main agency that oversees the planning and coordination of the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC).

“Together, we intend to empower investments and increase the participation of local entrepreneurs in the workforce and the availability of business resources for the downstream oil and gas, petrochemical and chemical industries in the PIPC,” he said.

During the MoU signing ceremony in Johor Bahru on Tuesday, SME Bank was represented by Aria Putera, while JPDC was represented by acting CEO Izhar Hifnei Ismail.

At the event, Izhar Hifnei presented a letter of appointment to the Centre for Entrepreneur Development and Research Sdn Bhd (Cedar) CEO Amirul Imran Ahmat to provide customised training in business capacity building under the Contractor Development Programme (CDP).

“Both parties will work together in identifying and nurturing prospective vendors from Pengerang, Johor, and Malaysia, offering them guidance in business and financial management, access to financing, and other important support services.

“This effort aims to equip local contractors with the skills and capabilities required to thrive in the downstream oil and gas, petrochemical and chemical industries,” Aria Putera said, adding that SME Bank has allocated more than RM35 million in financing to support 30 clients.

Izhar Hifnei said the CDP is a projection from the Skills in Oil and Gas training programme that has been implemented by JPDC at the PIPC since 2013.

It provides skills and work efficiency training, including reskilling and skill upgrading for a nearly 7,000-strong workforce across the country, he said.

“About 95% of them managed to get jobs in the downstream oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical and energy sectors at the PIPC and other locations in Malaysia.

“Under the CDP, JPDC aims to provide small and medium-sized Malaysian companies and contractors with business management skills and competencies,” said Izhar Hifnei.

He said that 30 participants who meet the CDP criteria will undergo training in two groups, with 15 from the first group to be trained this year and 15 from the second group to be trained next year.

“JPDC will nominate prospective entrepreneurs to SME Bank for evaluation and participation in training and mentoring programmes, in collaboration with Cedar, a subsidiary of SME Bank. These programmes will focus on improving the entrepreneurial and management skills of local businesses, entrepreneurs, and contractors.

“As part of the collaboration, JPDC will provide regular updates on industry developments to SME Bank to facilitate the decision-making process and strategic planning,” Izhar Hifnei said.

The two entities will work together in developing capacity-building initiatives tailored to the specific needs of Pengerang and Johor, he said, adding that the ultimate goal is to cultivate a pool of skilled and efficient local suppliers to meet industry demand. – Bernama

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