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SMEs need to be tech enriched [16-10-2012]  
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Small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) need to embrace technology to enhance their competitiveness and attract a higher quality of employees.

“SMEs need to start becoming more technically enriched, so that they can enhance technopreneurship,” said Kuwait-based Dr Jasem Besharah at a panel discussion titled “SME the new economy generator and emerging opportunities,” during the GCC-Malaysia Trade Investment Forum 2012 yesterday.

The forum is aimed at exploring and boosting trade opportunities between Malaysia and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) nations, which include member countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Besharah, who is with the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also said proactive steps needed to be taken to turn entrepreneurs into “technopreneurs.

“There is a need to increase the number of technopreneurs, who can help enhance the technology content of SMEs,” he said, adding that local universities should step in to make this into a possibility.

Technopreneurs are essentially entrepreneurs working in technology-based industries.

According to Besharah, the “seven pillars of SME development” are the need to have a market-driven business, adequate financing and guarantee schemes, having added value, sustainability, competitive management schemes, a technology-capturing base and knowledgeable entrepreneurs.

Meanwhile, Young Entrepreneur Organisation Malaysia president Agil Faisal Ahmad Fadzil, who was also a panelist at the discussion, pointed out that various initiatives were being undertaken by the Government to boost the competitiveness of Malaysian SMEs.

Citing the SME Masterplan (2012-2020), he pointed out that the Government aimed to boost SME gross domestic product contribution from 32% in 2010 to 41% by the year 2020 (among other key targets set out under the Masterplan). “With the various initiatives under the Masterplan, we expect the business environment (for SMEs) in Malaysia to improve.”

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