WOMEN entrepreneurs, who include single mothers who need retraining to hone their skills and broaden their knowledge, say the People and Economic Strategic Empowerment Programme (Pemerkasa) stimulus package will boost all who need a helping hand in their business ventures.
The Kempen e-Dagang PKS (Micro and Small Medium Enterprises e-Commerce Campaign) and Shop Malaysia Online initiative, which has a RM30mil fund, is one example.
"This incentive could not have come at a better time, as more businesses are beginning to realise the importance of online presence, " said the director and co-founder of a storage, packing and delivery service provider.
Another initiative tailored for women entrepreneurs, including those who are aspiring, is the Skim Pembiayaan Mikro Pemerkasa-Nita (a microcredit financing scheme) RM50mil fund managed by Bank Simpanan Nasional.
Safiyya sees the 3% annual interest rate and the repayment period, which has been set at five-and-a-half years with a six-month moratorium, as lenient and fair.
"As a taxpayer myself, I see it as a good thing because taxpaying citizens know that once these entrepreneurs have gained a steadier footing, their repayments will go back towards helping others, " she said.
To encourage women entrepreneurs to be more creative in terms of business services and product delivery, SME Association of Malaysia national council member Ada Poon suggested future grants be allocated for additional purposes, for example research and development.
"Creative business models and product developments are able to uplift the country's image, so this can be encouraged through financial grants of up to RM30,000 for start-ups and maybe go up to RM100,000 for companies with three years of proven track record, " she said.
Meanwhile, the managing director of an event staging solutions company, Lim Eee Huang, believes the Skim Keselamatan Sosial Perkerjaan Sendiri Perkeso (Socso Self-Employed Social Security Scheme) would come in handy for those providing caregiving services.
The RM10mil allocation provides a 70% matching fund for women entrepreneurs and other self-employed women. Through this programme, the government will pay 70% of the RM232.80 yearly Socso contribution of those with a monthly income of RM1,150 who fall under Plan 2.
"This scheme will not only incentivise a special pool of people to take the role of caregivers so their peers can go to work, but also encourage more self-employed women to sign up for the social security scheme, " she opined.
Agreeing with Lim is Maznah Unyan, founder of an enterprise that sells Mah Meri handicraft.
"It gives micro entrepreneurs like me a form of safety net.
"As a small enterprise, we have to source for raw materials including screwpine and nipah leaves from the jungle ourselves, which comes with a risk of injury.
"With benefits such as medical as well as temporary and permanent disablement aid, this will help us in case of accidents, " she said.
Persatuan Kaikudukum Uravugal Bantuan Sejiwa president Jayaletchumi Yellappan, whose organisation provides aid to poverty-stricken women, gives a thumbs-up for the incentive rollout and hopes funds could be considered for NGOs to conduct upskilling programmes.
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