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SME Bank Target To Nurture 400 Asnaf Entrepreneurs Through SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF Programme

KUALA LUMPUR : 20 March 2023

SME Bank aims to nurture 400 Asnaf entrepreneurs through the SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF programme which was launched today in collaboration with Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Ekonomi Malaysia (YaPEIM) and six (6) other strategic programme partners. The Asnaf Entrepreneurship programme, previously known as the SME Bank ISHRAF Programme, has been rebranded as the SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF Programme after being recognised by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) as an initiative in line with the objectives of the social finance programme, iTEKAD established by BNM.

Minister of Entrepreneurship and Cooperatives Development (MECD), YB Datuk Ewon Benedick said, "The Ministry is very optimistic when we saw the number of participants has increased fivefold from only 79 participants in the ISHRAF 2.0 Programme to 400 participants for this third series. Guided by the objective of nurturing Asnaf entrepreneurs to be more competitive and resilient, this SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF programme is in line with the KUSKOP 2023 strategic plan which is to focus on the recovery, growth and stability of the entrepreneurial and cooperatives sectors to be more viable and adaptable to change. In addition to this, this programme also supports the concept of Malaysia MADANI which has become the compass for us to move forward.”

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs), YB Senator Dato' Setia Dr. Haji Mohd Na'im Haji Mokhtar said, the SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF Programme implemented in collaboration with YaPEIM under the Inspirasipreneur Dream Programme and other strategic partners, is timely to help improve the socioeconomic status of Asnaf entrepreneurs to stand on their own and survivability.

The results of the financial assistance and training provided enable these 400 Asnaf entrepreneurs to generate income and run their respective businesses in a more systematic and competitive manner. "In my opinion, if these Asnaf entrepreneurs were successfully supported, they can certainly assist other groups of Asnaf in addition to being a role model or example for other Asnaf to be successful like them in the future."

SME Bank Group President / Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Wira (Dr.) Aria Putera Ismail said, “As a Programme under iTEKAD, the Ministry of Finance through BNM has channeled iTEKAD funds worth RM2.0 million for the Bank to manage through this SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF programme. In total, we managed to raise funds worth RM5.6 million through collaboration with our strategic partners. With this support, the programme has been able to be expanded nationwide compared to only six states last year."

SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF programme has been implemented with support from the Ministry of Finance Malaysia through BNM, YaPEIM, Etiqa Family Takaful, Etiqa General Takaful, Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, Permodalan Nasional Berhad and FGV Holdings Berhad.

Datuk Wira Aria added, "Through the allocation of this fund, participants will be given training and coachings as well as a business grant worth RM10,000.00 each. SME Bank hopes that the implementation of the SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF Programme can increase the number of quality, competitive and innovative entrepreneurs.”

The Center for Entrepreneur Development and Research (CEDAR) has been appointed as the business coach who will provide training and monitor the progress of the participants throughout the programme. The entrepreneurship training topics for the participants will include Marketing and Sales Strategy, Digitisation Skills, Financial Management, Process & Operations as well as Human Capital Management. Among the key performance indicators that participants need to achieve include increased in sales, additional employees and new products/services as well as technology adaptation.

The launching ceremony of SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF Programme today was officiated by YB Datuk Ewon Benedick, Minister of Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development (MECD) and witnessed by YB Senator Dato' Setia Dr. Haji Mohd Na'im bin Haji Mokhtar, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) and attended by representatives from SME Bank iTEKAD ISHRAF Programme strategic partners.