The development of entrepreneurship in Sarawak continues to accelerate through various initiatives by government ministries, agencies and departments over the past many years in order to nurture entrepreneurship among locals as a means to enhance their socio-economic well-being and boost the State’s socio-economic progress.
One of which is the State Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development (MINTRED), which leads the development of entrepreneurs to drive Sarawak’s economic growth.
Under its Entrepreneur Development Division, the ministry plans, promotes and coordinates implementation of projects and programmes that focus on capacity building, product development, product promotion and marketing, and financial assistance for entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.
In recent years, MINTRED has carried out new entrepreneurship development initiatives to encourage participation in the digital economy. The Digital Entrepreneurship Programme, for instance, is an awareness and training programme focusing on online business skills and promoting the use of digital marketing and electronic transactions.
Other initiatives like Graduates Towards Entrepreneurship Programme (GERAK) and Technical and Vocational Entrepreneurs Programme (USTEV) provide grants to youths who want to run their own business, simultaneously promoting entrepreneurship as a career option for them.
The ministry has also been constructing a number of business premises called Anjung Usahawan at various locations in Sarawak since 2018 to enable greater participation among small and micro business owners.
Furthermore, it has established Sarawak Product Pavillion in Kuala Lumpur as a platform for Sarawak entrepreneurs to promote their products beyond their home state.
To ease the financial burden of all entrepreneurs who run small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially those from the low-income group or the B40 as well as those who operate micro businesses, MINTRED implemented Sarawak Micro Credit Scheme (SMCS) to assist them by providing soft loans.
The scheme was given additional funds of RM100 million as part of the Sarawak Government’s efforts through MINTRED to help local entrepreneurs and industry players who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020.
Other forms of assistance provided during the ongoing pandemic include:
- Interest subsidy worth RM80.7 million for loan scheme applicants of Special Relief Fund (SRF), Targeted Relief and Recovery Facility (TRRF) and PENJANA Tourism Financing (PTF) for three and a half years
- Interest subsidy of four percent for applicants of SKMS and Sarawak Small and Medium Industry Loan Scheme (SPIKS) for three and a half years
- No interest charged for B40 entrepreneurs on SMCS loans up to RM10,000
- Grant allocation of RM23 million for GERAK and USTEV
- Grant allocation of RM22 million for SPIKS
- Moratorium period of 12 months granted for repayment of SKMS and SPIKS loans
- Provision of online platform Bazar Rakyat Online Sarawakku Sayang (BROSS) for local entrepreneurs and traders to sell their products during the Movement Control Order (MCO)
As a result of its numerous entrepreneurship development projects and programmes, MINTRED has assisted over 83,000 SME and micro entrepreneurs throughout the period under the 11th Malaysia Plan (2016-2020), including informal sector in various fields across Sarawak.
At the same time, the ministry has help more than 9,600 Sarawak entrepreneurs to join programmes related to product promotion and marketing at the national and international level.
Moving forward, MINTRED will intensify entrepreneurship development activities through programmes and government stimulus to strengthen the capacity and competitiveness of SME entrepreneurs in an increasingly competitive domestic and global economic environment that is influenced by rapid technological advancement and ever-changing consumer demand. “These efforts are important because they aim to improve the socio-economic well-being of Sarawakians in terms of increasing their income, generating employment opportunities, eradicating poverty, reducing migration, and bridging the economic development gap between urban and rural areas,” the ministry elaborated in a written response to RAKAN Sarawak.