KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 29): The Government spent RM2.3 billion on 10 women entrepreneurship programmes last year to spur women’s participation in business.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said these programmes provided intensive training in entrepreneurship, export support, and financial assistance for women entrepreneurs.
“These programmes have benefited 364,052 Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) recipients,” she said in her keynote address at the ASEAN-Japan Women Entrepreneurs’ Linkage Programme (AJWELP) today.
She noted that in Malaysia, women-owned businesses constitute 20.6 per cent of the total 907,065 SMEs in Malaysia.
“This is significantly lower than their male counterparts and of this figure, 97.2 per cent of the women are in the services sector,” she added.
Commenting on AJWELP, Wan Azizah said the programme would have greater success in empowering women within ASEAN as it is already in its third consecutive year of implementation.
An estimated 61.3 million women entrepreneurs own and operate businesses in ASEAN, accounting for 9.8 per cent of the total ASEAN population.
Meanwhile, Entrepreneur Development Deputy Minister Datuk Wira Dr Mohd Hatta, who was also present, said more efforts need to be taken to boost SMEs’ contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“The SMEs need to work harder and smarter in order to increase their GDP contribution to 41 per cent,” he said in his keynote address.
He also said that the Ministry would look into new areas and sectors to achieve the targeted 41 per cent SME contribution to the GDP by 2020.
“We will bring on board new enterprises and entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs and the B40 group,” he explained further.
Mohd Hatta also noted that the relationship between SMEs and large corporations is still weak, with SMEs not benefiting as they make purchases from the corporations.
“We need to change the situation, whereby we need bigger companies to buy from local SMEs, support them and eventually hit the 41 per cent target by 2020,” he added.