PELABURAN MARA Bhd, a financial services and asset management company, has been diligently paving the way for bumiputera SMEs to attain entrepreneurial success.
The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) – a government statutory body established to aid, train and guide bumiputeras in the areas of business and industry.
According to Pelaburan MARA chief operating officer Tengku Ahmad Badli Shah Raja Hussin, the group has assisted over 30 bumiputera entrepreneurs under its BARON programme.
Through the programme, each entrepreneur is granted loans of between RM1mil and RM5mil to enable them to take up majority stakes in selected high-growth local companies. In the past two years, Pelaburan MARA has disbursed around RM100mil under the BARON programme.
This year, some RM20mil has been allocated for the programme with about 16 applications that are pending approval from MARA Entrepreneur Development Management Committee.
Apart from the BARON programme, Pelaburan MARA‘s financial services arm, PMB Tijari Bhd, also provides financial assistance for Malaysian SMEs looking to enter into new businesses. Its Islamic Business Loans are available to all Malaysian.
“The company has provided financial assistance amounting to RM200mil to 60 companies for the purpose of undertaking various contracts as well as for the completion of their respective projects,” says Badli Shah who is also PMB Tijari’s acting chief executive officer.
PMB Tijari is a joint venture between Pelaburan MARA and Islamic Development Bank Group.
This year, PMB Tijari has allocated up to RM5mil for each company and is expected to benefit up to 40 SMEs.
“We make it easier for SMEs to obtain loans for the completion of projects and contracts awarded to their companies. Commercial banks need to see the company’s track record prior to giving out the loans, but PMB Tijari is able to provide loans to ‘pre-bankable’ companies with no track record or the financial capabilities to undertake the business,” adds Badli Shah.
He stresses that PMB Tijari’s risk evaluation board will carry out a thorough evaluation of the applications. However, rather than assessing the companies based on their track record, PMB Tijari banks on the technical expertise of the company’s personnel.
A good example of this is Shamsul Suhdi Mamat, the group managing director of Trigstation Sdn Bhd.
Trigstation, which specialises in providing oil and gas construction services, was awarded a RM40mil contract by a major oil and gas company in Turkmenistan about three years ago. Shamsul says trying to get a RM14mil loan from local banks to service the contract was a challenge for Trigstation given its brief history. The company was established in 2011 and had no proper track record.
So he opted for a business loan from PMB Tijari.
“PMB Tijari was cooperative. The first disbursement of my RM3mil loan occurred less than a month after my application,” says Shamsul.
The flexibility offered by PMB Tijari was a life saver for him. Trigstation is now a profitable and bankable company.
“In fact, of late, we have been approached by commercial banks for our upcoming projects. This is truly a sign of recognition and a good feeling actually, thanks to PMB Tijari’s strong support and assistance,” Shamsul says.
Pelaburan MARA’s initiatives to develop Malaysian SMEs do not end here.
Its other subsidiary, PMB Investment Bhd, encourages bumiputera and non-bumiputera entrepreneurs in the unit trust industry.
PMB Investment is a pioneer in Malaysia’s unit trust industry with over five decades of experience and 22 unit trust agencies under its umbrella.
It has laid out a career progression for entrepreneurs to become unit trust consultants, and eventually be elevated to agency managers.
The company is aiming for at least 1,000 unit trust consultants by year end from 652 currently.
One successful entrepreneur under this programme is Azihan Alias, who is a group agency manager under PMB Investment. She became a self-made millionaire within two years of becoming a unit trust consultant back in 2015.
During that time, she managed to recruit up to 143 consultants under her agency, Azihan Alias Group. The monthly average income of the consultants ranges from RM1,000 to RM100,000.
“Under my agency, I have young graduates who are dedicated unit trust consultants who can easily earn around RM10,000 to RM15,000 per month.
“In this business as a consultant, you decide your own income, you write your own pay check, and you decide everything. That’s the beauty about this business,” she says.
For the next two years, Azihan is targeting to produce five millionaires under her agency.
“I’m looking to recruit more passionate and highly motivated individuals. They must be entrepreneurs with high determination level because I believe the true recipe for success is all about determination. You may network, but if you do not have the determination and you don’t act on it, you won’t be successful,” adds Azihan.
Meanwhile, Badli Shah says PMB Investment is planning to expand and open four new offices, namely, in Alor Setar, Kota Bharu, Malacca and Sabah given the high number of enquiries related to its unit trust funds from these areas.
This year, the company’s unit trust funds have gained fame by receiving five awards for the best Shariah unit trust funds due to the higher-than-average market returns of 23%-33% per year for each fund.
PMB Investment manages 14 unit trust funds, two wholesale funds and several portfolio mandates with investments in equity, money market and sukuk asset classes with fund size of RM1.2bil that are invested solely in the domestic market.
Going forward, PMB Investment is looking to increase its funds size to RM1.9bil and is planning to launch several new investment funds, including one in the Asean market this year.