News Column

Turning big dreams into reality

February 16, 2014

OUR former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad once said, "Truly successful people are the people who work hard and willing to face the challenges of life". I truly believe in this principle and it is one lesson I share with my children, my teams and the small and medium entreprises (SMEs) at every opportunity - there is no shortcut to success.

In today's highly competitive business environment, SMEs can only sustain their businesses if they work harder, rise above all challenges and keep rediscovering their businesses as well as growth potential.

In a world where the costs and risks of catering to the needs of SMEs are perceived to be too high by commercial financial authorities and the microfinance loans are too small to meet the capital requirements of the SMEs, getting companies to be listed could prove to be a boon and a solution to catapult SME growth in realising their dream to be bigger, better and more competitive as they position themselves to take on the world market.

Lately, I have been following a few interesting developments in some of the emerging economies, where the trend has been towards the expansion of capital markets and investment listings designed and targeted at SMEs. For instance, the Securities and Exchange Board of India now allows start-ups and SMEs to list securities without having to float an initial public offering (IPO) and without any minimum thresholds on shareholding to the public.

Similarly, following the successful models in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and China, I am amazed that even African countries, like Ghana, are catching up with the global phenomenon of institutionalising dedicated SME exchanges by launching an alternative stock market for SMEs.

The listing norms are written to suit specific needs of the SMEs, promising visibility to the investor against struggling for a voice on a main exchange.

The European Commission continues to introduce targeted information campaigns to promote SME listings and stimulate investors' interest in SMEs.

In Malaysia, we have, in recent past, jointly organised seminars to educate more than 80 participants, including SMEs, on access to funding and preparations to become listed entities.

The "IPO Forum 2014: Stairway to Listing" is second in the series, jointly organised by SME Corp Malaysia, Bursa Malaysia and MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd, which will be held on March 24. The primary objective is for SMEs to obtain a better understanding of the processes involved in a listing exercise as well as to provide information on the benefits of accessing the public market.

Innovative forums such as this will go a long way in helping to shape the future of our SMEs by providing them a carte blanche to avail immense opportunities for new growth. For instance, as of November 15 2013, out of the 581 winners of the E50 Awards, 60 SMEs have been listed on the Malaysian bourse - 46 on the Main Market and 14 on the ACE Market.

Our target is to positively influence the accessibility of information on the benefits of listing to our critical mass of SMEs and help 15 per cent of our SMEs to get listed on the local bourse by 2015.

A shining example would be our very own home-grown company and former E50 Award Winner, Top Glove Bhd, which started from humble beginnings back in 1991.

"From where we started, we grew to a reasonable size as we gradually improved our product quality and capacity. Our aspiration was to grow the company over and beyond this. Public listing is a necessary step in taking our business to the next level. Listing is an effective avenue through which SMEs may raise capital for business expansion.

"Ten years down the road, Top Glove was listed on the (then) KLSE and today, has a market capitalisation of RM3.36 billion (as at February 4). It bears mentioning that listing is not a one-time exercise, but an ongoing journey", said Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai, chairman of Top Glove.

"As a public-listed entity, a higher degree of transparency, disclosure and compliance is required. From a marketing perspective, listing enhances awareness of a company's product/service offerings and elevates its image considerably.

"Being a public-limited company (Plc) also instils greater confidence and comfort, particularly for overseas customers, in doing business with the company. It is also easier to attract talent as a listed vehicle.

"Most importantly, a Plc will be driven to continuously improve its operations to provide better returns to investors, and hence, has the impetus to stay at the top of its game and become the best it can be," he added.

What future holds for our high potential, listing-ready, Top-Glove-in-the-making SMEs? They will be representing Malaysia's competitiveness in global markets, with strong financial statements, quality standards, good governance and disclosure guidelines, robust growth and promising future.

SMEs must face their fears and muster courage to prepare themselves for such a future.

As someone once said, "Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear."

While we encourage small businesses to realise their dreams through Stairway to Listing, those who are still trying to find their footing in the domestic market are encouraged to attend the "Malaysia Entrepreneurship Forum 2014" (Fokem 2014) that will be launched by the International Trade and Industry Minister (Miti) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed on February 18 at Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

Jointly organised by SME Corp Malaysia, SME Bank and Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd, the forum aims to serve as a platform for successful Malaysian entrepreneurs to share their success stories and experiences and to motivate nascent entrepreneurs to make that big decision to start a business.

Miti and its agencies wish to impart the latest information on various initiatives and programmes on entrepreneurship development as well as to provide inspiration and motivation to entrepreneurs who have just started their businesses and also to those who would like to expand their businesses.

For those SMEs who wish to participate in the "IPO Forum 2014: Stairway to Listing" and know more about Fokem 2014, please log on to

See you there - hoping to realise your big dreams and turning them into reality!

Datuk Hafsah Hashim is the chief executive officer of SME Corp Malaysia.

For more stories on investments and markets, please see HispanicBusiness' Finance Channel

Source: Business Times (Malaysia)

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