KUALA LUMPUR: Many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) might lose out due to their failure to apply for the government’s assistance packages as they are not aware that the programmes will end by August, a financial educator said today.

Funds and incentives under the stimulus packages have helped many eligible SMEs to sustain their businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, said Amy Seok, chief executive officer of Money Compass Media (M) Sdn Bhd.

“SMEs should apply for such assistance quickly as they are set to end when the Movement Control Order is totally lifted,” she told Bernama.

According to SME Corporation Malaysia (SME Corp), with about 73% of SMEs expected to register losses in 2020, the challenge lies in their speed and agility to adopt differentiated strategies to survive in the new normal.

They should embrace digitalisation for their business operations, develop business continuity plans, as well as work closely with their financial institutions to manage their cash positions.

SMEs nationwide stand to gain from various types of financial assistance and incentives from the government and financial institutions, including Pemerkasa, the Wage Subsidy Programme, the Micro Enterprise Fund and the Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility.

To engage with the SMEs and get them on board, a two-day virtual MyMalaysia SME Human Resources (HR) e-Fair and Webinar will be held on April 27, accessible on https://smeefair.com.my.

The organisers include UlearnMONEY, Money Compass Media, Max Capital Management Holding Ltd and Celik Wang, supported by the Malaysia Literacy in Financial Education Association (MyLIFE).

Seok — who is also the organising chairman of the e-Fair and founder of UlearnMONEY — said some 100 business organisations are set to participate in the e-Fair and webinar so that all SMEs will be made aware of the available funding and incentives.

Based on her engagement with SMEs and experience with her own company, she said the assistance packages — especially the subsidies for hiring — have helped companies to sustain and maintain their cash flow as staff costs can be quite significant.

“There is no denying that these assistance programmes for SMEs — which includes the hiring incentive programme — have helped to boost employment and economic recovery.

“SMEs are undoubtedly vital contributors to Malaysia’s gross domestic product,” said Seok, adding that several roadshows to boost awareness on equity crowdfunding, private retirement schemes as well as investment education have also been held.

Themed “Go Hiring to Recover Your Business with HR Strategies and Incentives”, the e-Fair is an effective platform in helping SMEs acquire information and advice on the government’s hiring and training incentives.

The e-Fair comprises virtual exhibitions, SME HR webinars, and SME marketplace.

The virtual exhibition will feature virtual booths by government agencies, financial institutions, financial service providers, telecommunication providers, training agencies and digital as well as HR solution providers.

SME HR webinars will feature talks by speakers from the Social Security Organisation, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, SME Corp and the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), among others.

The webinars will be exploring the various ways SMEs could effectively hire and train employees through smart HR strategies for business recovery, achieve maximum benefits at the lowest cost and obtain assistance from relevant government departments.

“We hope during the MyMalaysia SME HR e-Fair, SMEs would gain insights on hiring, funding solutions, cashflow management and digitalisation strategies to address immediate business challenges, and be matched with relevant financial and digital solution providers,” she said.

Seok said that SME employers participating in the MyMalaysia SME HR e-Fair event will have the opportunity to receive from 60% to 100% of the HR subsidy. — Bernama