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Monday, 22 January 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

A deserving win for SMEs

Award winners have demonstrated resilience amid a challenging economy

SMALL businesses play an integral role in helping Malaysia achieve its high income nation status. They contribute significantly to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), exports and employment.

And amid a challenging year, some companies have persevered and emerged as real champions of their industries.

Acknowledging their contributions to the nation is essential to encourage and spur SMEs to do even better and to grow beyond their boundaries.

The eighth Star Outstanding Business Awards (SOBA) held last Tuesday was one such avenue to recognise their achievements and to propel them to the next level.

The biggest winner at SOBA 2017 was Proguard Technologies (M) Sdn Bhd, which makes safety products for the oil and gas industry. The company swept prizes in five categories for businesses with a sales turnover of RM25mil and above.

The champions: (from left) Lee, Choh, Ho and Mah celebrating their achievements.
The champions: (from left) Lee, Choh, Ho and Mah celebrating their achievements.

Proguard won Platinum for Best Employer, Gold for Best Brand and Silver for Best in CSR. On top of that, the company took home the coveted Malaysian Business of the Year award in the Above RM25mil tier while its chief executive officer and chief financial officer Datin Cindy Choh won Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

Proguard chief operating officer Datuk Lee Ngai Mun noted that the company’s victory was also a win for all its employees.

“Having good employees is very important, the company cannot be successful with just me and my wife alone. Our branch managers can work independently, we give them the power to execute.

“We have many employees who have been with us since the beginning, we work together very well and we share the same passion,” said Lee.

The other grand winner was advertising agency Forefront Studio Sdn Bhd, which clinched the grand prize of Malaysian Business of the Year for the under RM25mil sales turnover category after four years of participating in SOBA.

Forefront’s perseverance is certainly an example for other small businesses to follow.

The company also won Gold awards in the Best Brand and Best Employer categories and a Platinum award in the Best in Marketing category.

“I’m humbled and thankful. After four years of participating in SOBA, we finally got to this stage.

“We strive to create good works. We are in the service industry and our clients such as Eco World and Capitaland allow us creative freedom and that enhances our team capabilities,” said Forefront chief executive officer Darien Mah.

Acknowledging SMEs: (from left) Ong, Star Media Group chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow and Wong applauding the winners on achieving a milestone.
Acknowledging SMEs: (from left) Ong, Star Media Group chairman Datuk Fu Ah Kiow and Wong applauding the winners on achieving a milestone. 

Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai congratulated the winners for their achievements and remarkable personal growth. He noted that they truly exemplified notable qualities that should be present in every enterprise.

“With this, we acknowledge the important role that local businesses play towards the economic development in our nation. The awards will continue to be a significant enabler for organisations to build a competitive edge and make a name for themselves in the industry,” said Wong.

Meanwhile, process improvement and technology company ABBE Group (M) Sdn Bhd took home the Rising Star award. Managing director Ho Wai Loon dedicated the win to his team.

“I’m happy and excited to have received this award. I believe that passion and the right business model are what got us this award.

“At the same time, teamwork is important as success comes from everyone working together,” he said.

Other winners in the above RM25mil sales turnover category included FMC Greenland chief executive officer Terry Lee who won the Male Entrepreneur of the Year award.

Other winners in the under RM25mil sales turnover category included Googolplex Properties Sdn Bhd group chief executive officer Christopher Liang (Young Entrepreneur of the Year), K-Pintar Sdn Bhd chief executive officer and founder R.A. Thiagaraja (Male Entrepreneur of the Year) and Sirius International (M) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Anne Lim (Female Entrepreneur of the Year).

SOBA 2017 saw an increase in the number of participating companies, many of them new to the awards, which demonstrates the growing reach of the awards as well as a stronger desire by small businesses to be benchmarked.

“Quality awards such as SOBA not only recognises the role and contributions of these outstanding businesses but also provides a healthy and competitive environment for them to continue growing their businesses. Competition generates ideas and innovation, both of which are essential in making a business successful.

“The Government will continue to provide support in terms of services and information through our agencies in MITI where SMEs can continue to gain access to markets with export potentials.

“It is with this that I believe that Malaysia would be able to come out as a highly competitive and strong economic powerhouse,” said International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan at the awards ceremony.

Ong said SMEs currently make up more than 98% of business entities in Malaysia, the majority of which are in the services sector.

In 2016, SMEs contributed 36.6% to the country’s GDP, 65.3% to employment and 18.6% to the country’s export.

The growth of the SME sector continues to outpace that of the general economy, making small businesses the bedrock of the economy.

Last year, SME growth was estimated to be at 5.5%-6%.

SOBA pays tribute to SMEs striving to carve a niche for themselves in the world of business, and aims to inspire Malaysian enterprises towards excellence and outstanding achievements.

More than 800 guests from various organisations attended SOBA 2017 Awards Night.

SOBA 2017 is organised by Star Media Group with AmBank, DiGi and Human Resources Development Fund as main sponsors, Credit Guarantee Corp Malaysia Bhd as co-sponsor, Matrade as official trade promotion partner and Connexion Conference & Event Centre as official venue sponsor.

It is endorsed by the Secretariat for the Advancement of Malaysian Entrepreneurs, the Prime Minister’s Department, and the Finance and International Trade and Industry ministries.

It is supported by Bursa Malaysia and audited by BDO, with 988, SuriaFM and dimsum as official media partners.