U.S. Private Sector Extends Commitment to Support Malaysia Policy of "Industry4WRD" through Empowering Malaysian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

(Kuala Lumpur) – More than 200 owners and executives of Malaysian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) from Kuala Lumpur and neighboring cities participated in a full-day workshop on titled “The Potential of Industry 4.0 for Malaysian SMEs”. The workshop was conducted in close collaboration with Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

“Digital transformation brings challenges but more importantly, tremendous opportunities for businesses,” said Ambassador Michael W. Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director at the US-ASEAN Business Council. “It changes the way companies operate and has the potential to revolutionize entire value chains from front line production, to corporate governance. We need to embrace this change. SMEs, especially, need to harness digital capabilities to grow their businesses and benefit from Industry 4.0.”

The workshop served to further U.S. private sector commitment in supporting the Malaysian Government’s National Policy on Industry 4.0, or “Industry4WRD”, focused particularly on strengthening SMEs. During the workshop, Council members Cisco, Visa, Mastercard, Procter & Gamble and Google shared their expertise on promoting greater economic inclusivity and utilization of digital tools to the SME participants.

Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry, YB Darell Leiking, gave a keynote address to the participants following Ambassador Michalak’s official opening of the workshop.

“SMEs play a vital role in supporting the growth of the Malaysian economy. In 2017, 37 percent of Malaysia’s GDP was credited to the productivity of SMEs, a portion of national GDP that is expected to increase to 41 percent by 2020. SMEs also employ two-thirds of all workers in Malaysia and make up 98.5 percent of all business establishments in the country,” said Minister Darell Leiking.

While serving as the back bone of the Malaysian economy, SMEs still face challenges in maximizing the potential of Industry 4.0. Changes arising from the digital revolution in production and value creation process are particularly radical and pose evolving challenges to businesses. SMEs must develop strategies to leverage opportunities in digitalization and adapt to new technologies and innovation to remain competitive.

Perry Ong, Country Manager, Malaysia and Brunei, Mastercard said, “Technology is key in enabling SMEs to effectively meet evolving business demands and seize new opportunities in an increasingly competitive environment. A united and concerted effort by the public and private sectors will help SMEs better understand how to integrate technologies, such as digital payments, to drive operational efficiency. The workshop is in line with Mastercard’s commitment to drive greater industry collaboration and knowledge-sharing in order to advance Malaysia’s digital economy agenda. This is an ideal platform for all partners to leverage their insights, expertise, and technologies, and collectively empower Malaysian SMEs to scale up, maximize their resources, and participate actively in the global digital economy.”

“At Visa, we believe the importance in helping SMEs get on the digitization journey in Malaysia. Through ‘The Potential of Industry 4.0 for Malaysian SMEs’ workshop, we are able to share the trends and changing landscape for SMEs, and what they can do to make their business processes more efficient by adopting digital payments. We believe that when small medium businesses in Malaysia use business payment cards to make supplier payments, they are able to have better visibility of their cash flows, and reduce man-hours required to manage cash and cheque payments. Creating more awareness and conducting more education industry workshops such as today, will enable more businesses in Malaysia to evolve and transform themselves in this digital age,” said Mr. Ng Kong Boon, Visa Country Manager for Malaysia.

In 2011, the US-ASEAN Business Council established a training program for ASEAN SMEs in response to a request by the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) to support ASEAN SMEs leverage technology and the intra-global consumer and supply base. More than 45 SME Workshops across ASEAN Have been conducted. The Council, most recently in Malaysia, conducted a workshop in Kuala Lumpur in 2014. More than 6,700 SMEs in all ten ASEAN countries have benefited from Council’s SME Capacity Building programs. In addition, the Council launched the online ASEAN SME Academy (www.asean-sme-academy.org), a self-help and self-paced online learning platforms for SMEs, offering free courses and resources from the Council’s member companies.

From left to right: Mr. John Patrick Antonysamy (Senior Director, Strategic Planning Division, Ministry of International Trade and Industry), Ms. Choo Wai Meng (Executive Director for Strategic Planning (Manufacturing), Malaysian Investment Development Authority), Dr. Mohd Shahrul Azmi bin Mohamad Yusoff (Director, Industrial Centre of Innovation in SMART Manufacturing, The Standard and Industrial Research Institue of Malaysia), Azrin Azlina Anuar (Director for Government Engagement Visa), Matt Baker (Head of Small and Medium Enterprises Solution Visa), YB Datuk Darell Leiking (Minister of International Trade and Industry), Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia), Amb. Michael W. Michalak (Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director US – ASEAN Business Council), Philip Glickman (Vice President Business Development Mastercard), Peter Rand (Sales Lead for SME Services in Asia Pacific Mastercard), Sunil Singh (Sales IT Domain Leader – Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa), Suffian Muhili (Government Relations Leader Malaysia P&G), Valerie Tan (Director Public Policy Asia Pacific Mastercard), Tina Chee (CTO & Head of Systems Engineering Cisco Malaysia) and Tina Jamaluddin (Senior Representative Malaysia - US ASEAN Business Council).

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.