KUALA LUMPUR: 13 October 2021 – In line with the development of e-commerce business during the pandemic and pivoted by the increase in e-commerce revenue in 2020 by 32.7 percent (RM896.4 billion. Source: DOSM), SME Bank has decided to revise the format of the Program Inovasi Usahawan Muda SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge 2020 by focusing on e-commerce platforms to nurture young e-Entrepreneurs who are competent in producing products that can be commercialized online through social media.

Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives (MEDAC), Tan Sri Noh Bin Haji Omar said, “MEDAC welcomes SME Bank's efforts because apart from meeting current trends, this approach indirectly contributes to the RMK-12 goal of achieving 25.5 percent target in digital economy contribution to GDP by 2025."

Tan Sri Noh added, “This business competition at the secondary school level is a double-edged sword when it also helps the country achieves its aspiration of creating an entrepreneurial nation among the youth and further achieve the aspirations of the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ that we are striving for now.”

SME Bank Group President / Chief Executive Officer, Aria Putera Ismail said, “The Bank has been organising the SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge since 2012 with the aim to cultivate entrepreneurship among the younger generation so that they have a foundation to start their own business in the future. Exposure at the secondary school level is important to instill the entrepreneurial spirit and this is where we can measure the success of this program if they continue to venture into entrepreneurship after graduation and make it as their career of choice.”

Aria added, “Although the physical competition had to be postponed several times due to COVID-19, the SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge 2020 program was well received when it recorded an increase in registration of schools of almost 38% from the initial target of 20% with 151 schools participating compared to only 113 in the previous edition.’

The champion of SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge 2020 Program went to Suchi Rangers Team from Kolej Vokasional (Pertanian) Teluk Intan, Perak with a product called Cattapa, an organic treatment product for the agriculture sector. The team won cash prize of RM20 thousand, a challenge trophy, certificates of participation and a special prize of flight tickets worth RM25 thousand enabling them to participate in any international competitions. This will give them the opportunity to gain experience and expand their network with students competing from other countries.

Green Box Team from SMK St. Teresa, Sarawak is the first runner up with their product, Green Box, a wireless light generator. They took home cash prize of RM15 thousand, a trophy and certificates of participation. The second runner up went to Triumph Legacy Team from SMK Kuala Nerang, Kedah with the product MYCRISP, a type of crispy snack made from Moringa leaves. Triumph Legacy took home cash prize of RM10 thousand, a trophy and certificates of participation. Six other teams received consolation prizes in the form of cash worth RM3,000, trophies and certificates of participation.

The implementation of SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge 2020 program began with a physical briefing session for 100 teachers in January 2020. However, the format was completely changed to online platform as students and teachers had difficulties to meet face-to-face to discuss and complete the project proposals during the movement control order. Out of the 151 initial registrations, 98 project proposal papers were received from the participating schools.

Preliminary judging was held in April 2021 to select 20 projects to advance to the semi-finals. To provide added value for the participants, SME Bank also organized a boot camp session in June 2021 for the semi-finalists to attend e-commerce and business management coaching classes.

Apart from that, they were also given seed money worth one thousand ringgit to complete their products. A semi-final presentation session was held in August 2021 and a total of nine projects were selected to the final round.

Finalists were also required to upload two videos on SME Bank's Facebook to promote their respective products. This aimed to gauge the participants’ understanding on e-commerce marketing knowledge that they had acquired during the boot camp session. The videos were open for the public to vote ‘Like’ and the cumulative total number of ‘Likes’ were given additional marks during the final round. Overall, a total of 33,890 ‘Likes’ were received by all finalists.

To ensure that the projects presented by the participants are evaluated by experts in their respective fields, SME Bank had appointed a panel of jury comprising representatives from the Ministry of Education Malaysia, Malaysian Design Council and agencies related to entrepreneurial development and SME financing such as TEKUN, MARA, Bank Rakyat and also ODELA.

Since 2012 and to date, a total of 673 secondary schools had participated in the SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge involving 2,767 students. The SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge program also gained international recognition when it was awarded with Plaque of Merit awards under the Corporate Social Responsibility category from the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP) in 2019 and 2013.