By Mohd Zahid Ahmad Zaki
KUCHING: Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) is committed to helping pandemic-affected entrepreneurs survive, said Datuk Zulfikri Osman.
The deputy director-general (Entrepreneurship) said the agency always focused on entrepreneurs’ businesses affected by COVID-19.
“Before the outbreak, MARA focused on creating new entrepreneurs. But, COVID-19 put paid to our aim of pursuing that aspiration.
“When something like that happens, it is better for us to help existing entrepreneurs in maintaining their business so that they can meet the challenges.
“Therefore, the focus for the past two years has been to provide assistance to existing entrepreneurs affected by the pandemic,” he said when officiating at the Sarawak Southern Zone entrepreneur dinner and appreciation ceremony at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) dining hall, yesterday (June 30).
Zulfikri noted that although the country was facing the pandemic, Bumiputera entrepreneurs in Sarawak were still able to face the difficult moments with fortitude and perseverance in maintaining their respective businesses.
In fact, they were able to get sales that are considered very good despite facing the challenging situation, he said.
He said the initiatives channelled by MARA ensured that entrepreneurs continued to operate their businesses, especially during the pandemic.
“There is no doubt that there are those who are less fortunate. About three per cent of the entrepreneurs who work with MARA had to give up during the pandemic.
“However, when compared to the number of businesses that went bankrupt among entrepreneurs other than MARA, as much as 10 per cent among small and medium traders across the country were forced to shut down their businesses.
“It can be seen that MARA’s initiative in helping entrepreneurs is very effective because the percentage of entrepreneurs who were forced to retire was lower,” he said.
Zulfikri added that the agency’s efforts had a positive effect following the initiatives taken to ensure that entrepreneurs could face the pandemic well.
In addition, he said, the agency wanted more allocation to be set aside next year, but it still depended on the budget that would be announced by the Prime Minister in October.
“We really hope that the government from time to time will provide more allocation to states such as Sarawak to help them increase entrepreneurship development,” he said.
Meanwhile, he attended a dinner with some 200 entrepreneurs to give them encouragement and motivation to succeed.
Various awards, including the IKON Entrepreneur Award, Outstanding Entrepreneur Award and Prestigious Entrepreneur Award were presented to outstanding entrepreneurs.