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Financing for SMEs in Malaysia – Smaller businesses have many avenues to seek funding for growth

SMALL and medium enterprises (SMEs) are broadly defined as manufacturing, manufacturing-related services (MRS) and agro-based industries that employ around 200 full-time employees or have annual sales turnover of not more than RM50mil. The term also refer to enterprises in the services, primary agriculture and information and communication technology industries with not more than 75 full-time employees or annual sales turnover of not more than RM20mil.

According to the SME Annual Report 2012, small and medium enterprises represent 98.5% of the approximately 78,000 companies in Malaysia, with the remaining 1.5% made up of multinational and public-listed companies. In many developed nations, SMEs are thought to contribute between 40% and 60% to gross domestic product and 60% and 70% of the employment, but the SME sector in Malaysia has not reached the mark yet.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin recently said, “SMEs in Malaysia contribute 31% to the GDP and 59% to employment. The SME sector has a lot of catching up to do as we work towards achieving developed nation status by 2020”.

The Japanese experience

The Japanese experience after World War II underscores the significant role played by SMEs in rebuilding its economy from the brink of collapse to become the second-largest economy in the world for forty-two years before China overtook it in 2010.

Essentially, large enterprises depend on SMEs to supply the goods and services they need on a timely basis so that their own resources are not locked up and they can focus on delivering final products. For example, car manufacturing companies contract SMEs to supply various auto parts for them to assemble instead of manufacturing the parts themselves. This way, they can respond to market changes speedily and at minimal cost.

Having realised the significance of SMEs, the government has been making every effort to ensure that the sector continues to flourish in Malaysia. The biggest obstacle that hampers the growth and progress of SMEs is funding. Owners of these businesses usually start their businesses with their own limited savings or money borrowed from family members and friends. In the initial years, they have to juggle their finances in order to keep the businesses going. When the businesses grow, they have to look for additional funding to finance additional machinery, factory or office expansion, inventory and working capital. Those who manage to obtain business loans will continue to progress while others are content to let opportunities slip by.

Fortunately, the Government has realised that SMEs need better funding mechanisms and assistance to optimise their contributions to the economy. Support systems and initiatives to aid the development and growth of SMEs have since been implemented. A specialised agency was established in 1996 to spur the development of SMEs by providing infrastructure facilities, financial assistance, advisory services, market access and other support programmes. This agency was later transformed into SME Corporation Malaysia.

SME Corp and other government agencies such as Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd (MIDF), the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Malaysian Green Technology Corporation and SME Bank provide a range of funding or financial assistance such as soft loans and venture capital funds. They also offer a variety of grants and incentives to finance product, process and quality improvement, market development, skills upgrading, factory audits and acquisition of strategic technology.

Soft loans at very attractive interest rates of 4% a year are available to SMEs through MIDF to assist existing as well as newly start-up enterprises in project, fixed assets and working capital financing. The maximum amount for project financing is RM5mil and for working capital financing it is RM3mil. The minimum amount is RM50,000. New assets including IT hardware and software can be financed for up to 90% of their cost. SME Bank also gives out business loans and other financing starting from as low as RM20,000 at interest rates ranging from 3.75% to 7.5% a year.

Grabbing opportunities

As any management guru will advise, not progressing is actually retarding. So it is imperative that SMEs stay competitive and innovative and continue to grow their businesses to position themselves alongside their international competitors. More aggressive SMEs have taken advantage of the funding and assistance provided and some have even ventured into foreign markets. With the schemes, grants and assistance available, it is up to the SMEs to step out of their comfort zone and create their economic growth as well as contribute towards the Economic Transformation Programme in realising our nation’s aspiration of attaining high-income economy status in 2020.

By Chermaine Poo, a chartered accountant turned actress, TV host and professional emcee. Follow her on social media at, and

Term Loan, OD & Revolving Credit (Commercial Banks)


A Term Loan is a fixed amount of loan granted for an agreed period of time and to be repaid in fixed instalments. Term loans are normally granted for the purchase of fixed assets. With fixed repayments, you’ll be able to plan and manage your cash flow effectively.


Allows you to draw additional funds quickly and conveniently from your current account when you require it. Raising additional capital for running a business or making investments is now fast, simple and convenient.

Here’s what Overdraft offers you:

  • No fixed repayment schedule.
  • Interest charged only when funds are used.(However, will charge you 1% p.a. commitment fees on the unused amount)
  • Easy to use


A working capital facility to address your financing needs over a short to medium term period. You can choose to either repay the full amount or renew the loan tenure by servicing the interest at the end of the loan period.

Here’s what Revolving Credit offers you:

  • Flexibility of drawing funds as and when required.
  • Repayable over 1 to 6 months term.
  • Choice of repaying in full upon maturity or to pay only the interest.

Trade Finance – LC / TR / BA (Commercial Banks)


This is a major payment method in international trade because it benefits both parties in the transaction. As the buyer, you do not have to pay until the documents are received in good order. Your sellers are also comfortable because they will definitely be paid if they have complied with the terms of the LC.


A form of financing for your purchases, where the financier pay your suppliers 100% of the value of the goods, so that you can take delivery promptly and defer payment for an agreed period of time.

Advantages of using Trust Receipts:

  • 100% financing, Competitive rates, no commitment fee.
  • Financing for a pre-determined period that suits your needs.
  • Flexibility to settle early, partly or fully.


This provides you with immediate funds upon presentation of export/sales documents with or without Letters of Credit. This gives you instant cash in hand for other business needs while the bank collects payment from your buyer at a later date.

Advantages of using Bills of Exchange Purchased:

  • Financing for both domestic and foreign sales with or without Letters of Credit.
  • Advance given based on presentation of documents of sale or export.
  • No minimum financing amount.
  • Up to 100% financing based on invoice amount.
  • Low commission charges of 0.1%, between RM20 and RM500.


The bank provides financing for importers and local purchasers so you can take delivery of goods faster to meet market demands.

Advantages of using Banker’s Acceptance:

  • Period and amount of financing tailored to your business needs.
  • Goods can be purchased without worrying about increasing capital outlay.
  • Low charges levied. (Normally less than 5% per annum)
  • You can still obtain financing for other use, even though you have already paid your supplier.
  • You can combine multiple trade documents to make up the minimum financing amount of RM50 000.

Business Loan (SME Bank)


1. Manufacturing (Preference will given to high growth sector)

2. Services

  • Electrical, Gas & Water Supply
  • Transportation, storage & communication
  • Wholesale & Retail Trade
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Other selected services

3. Construction (Contracts from Government & Government Linked Companies (GLC))
4. Tourism
5. Finance Companies
6. Oil & Gas
7. Mining except for quarry
8. ICT & Biotechnology
9. Other selected sectors


1. Primary agriculture (Processing and services of food products are exempted)
2. Property Development
3. Gambling or any Illegal activities
4. Finance Companies
5. Mining except for quarry


  • Internal Fund
  • RMK9 Funds
  • Bank Negara Funds (TUB & TIKS)
  • Special Fund For Tourism (SFT2)
  • Rural Economic Development Scheme (SPED)
  • Public Transport Development Fund (TPPA)
  • Film & Drama Financing Scheme (SPFC)
  • Graduates Entrepreneur Fund (TUS)
  • SME Fund 2 (TIKS2)
  • Terengganu State Entrepreneur Fund (DUNT)
  • Foreign Funds (JBIC SMIPP, AJDF)
  • Kraf
  • Batik
  • Other Funds


  • Term Loan
  • Leasing
  • Industrial Hire Purchase
  • Bank Guarantee
  • Revolving


  • Bai’bithaman Ajil (BBA)
  • Bai Murabahah
  • Bai Dayn
  • Ijarah
  • Ijarah Thummalbai’
  • Kafalah

Working Capital Financing

  • Fixed Working Capital
  • Revolving Working Capital

Fixed Asset Financing

  • Land
  • Building
  • Land & Building
  • Machine & Equipments
  • Motorised Vehicles


  • Project initiation/ start-up financing
  • Venture Capital Fund

Equity Financing

  • Ordinary Shares
  • Preferred Shares
  • Loan Stock


  • Term Loan
  • Land & Building
  • Construction of Building
  • Machinery/Equipment/Plant
  • Commercial Vehicles
  • Renovation
  • Furniture/Fittings


  • Machinery/Equipment/Plant
  • Commercial Vehicles

Industrial Hire-purchase

  • Machinery/Equipment/Plant
  • Commercial Vehicles (except bus)

Fixed Working Capital

  • Purchase of Stock
  • Debtors
  • Overheads
  • Legal Fees
  • Pre-Op i.e.: Franchise Fee, Consultancy Fee, Promotion & Branding

Revolving Working Capital

  • Purchase of Raw Material
  • Purchase of Finished Goods
  • Debtors

Bank Guarantee

  • Performance Bond
  • Advance Payment Guarante
  • Tender Bon
  • Guarantee to Supplier, Bank, etc.

Loan Stock
Fixed Assets
Working Capital
* Maximum 30% of Paid-up Capital

Comfort Letter
For Government & Government Linked Companies (GLC) Tender Submission

Graduate Entrepreneur Fund (SME Bank)

Financial Facilities Especially For Graduates

Malaysia government channel an additional allocation of RM25 million in the 9th Malaysia Plan for Graduate Entrepreneurs Fund [TUS].

The provisions are intended to encourage more university graduates entered the field of entrepreneurship.

SME Bank has managed to produce a successful Graduate Entrepreneurs contribute personal income through the business and improving the country’s growth engine.

The fund was easy to start a business of financing the service and industrial sectors and for graduates who already have an existing business.

Features TUS

  • Loans from RM20,000 up to RM500,000
  • Financing a total of RM750, 000 can be given to the taking-over companies
  • The rate of profit (markup) 4% per annum monthly rest


  • Open to Malaysians
  • At least Diploma holders accredited by MQA
  • Graduated not more 15 years
  • Age not exceeding 40 years old


(i) No Guarantor
For the financing of buildings / premises
For the financing of up to RM100,000

(ii) Guarantor
For financing exceeding RM100,000, guarantor guarantees only 20% of the amount exceeding RM100,000

Other Information About TUS

  • TUS gave maximum financing of 10 years or up to 20 years (for buildings / businesses only)
  • Grace period may also be considered up to a maximum 48 months
  • Maximum financing can be up to 100% financing for less than RM100,000 and 90% for the financing of more than RM100,000
  • Individual firms, partnerships and private companies can apply for TUS
  • All types of businesses are allowed except for property investment and Primary Agriculture industry

How To Apply For Graduate Entrepreneur Fund (TUS)

Applicant who have been in business and in operation for more than two years are exempted attending courses conducted by INSKEN and the screening process is at INSKEN.

Applicants may submit a Business Plan to SME Bank’s nearest branch.

Applicants who have no experience in business need to attend courses conducted by INSKEN.
Course registration can be made via online at

After attending the course, applicants are required to submit five copies of their Business Plans to INSKEN.

The screening process will be conducted by the INSKEN and applicants are required to present their Business Plan. (Applicants who operate in Sabah / Sarawak are granted exemption from attending the screening process at INSKEN.

If the business plan meets the requirements of the Fund, the proposal will be forwarded to SME Bank’s nearest branch.

SME Bank will evaluate the application and provide feedback.

For eligibility requirements please refer to TUS terms.

Contract Financing Scheme (SME Bank)

Features And Eligibility Criteria

General Features

Contract Financing Scheme is a financing package based on product bundling concept of financing facilities which is already available in the Bank

The Scheme offers financing to customers who are Main Contractors or Nominated Sub-Contractors having secured contract(s) from approved awarding parties mainly government ministries, department and agencies

Mechanics of Financing

Purpose of the loan facilities is to finance the implementation of contract(s) until full completion
The financing mechanism works by way of assigning the contract proceeds from the awarding parties direct to the Bank. Financing is offered on a pre-implementation or post-completion basis, or a combination of both

Types of Contract

  • Supply contract / direct supply or with added value in the form of installation, testing, commissioning, training, etc
  • Construction and infrastructure projects including civil, mechanical, electrical and information & communication technology works
  • Other business services contract including provision of service and maintenance

Eligibility Criteria

Applicant must be the Main Contractor or Nominated Sub-Contractor

Applicant must be registered with either of the following

  • Ministry of Finance (MOF)
  • Contractor Service Centre (PKK)
  • Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB)
  • Other relevant licensing or registration bodies

Financing Concept

Pre-implementation financing: Normally comprises guarantees as provided for and required under the contracts, as well as working capital financing to facilitate the completion of the contracts

Post-completion financing: Strictly financing on discounting of invoices already submitted to awarding parties or progress claims duly certified by the awarding parties

Margin of Financing: The Bank may finance up to 100% of the contract cost

Financing Limit: The financing limit for fund-based facilities (excluding Guarantees) is guided by the highest deficit position from the contract’s projected cash flow

Business Premise Financing (SME Bank)


This Scheme is to finance the purchase of shop houses/office space or factories whether completed or under construction

Business Premise Financing Scheme

Purchase of office spaces and shop lots whether completed or under construction.


  • Private Limited companies and professional firms
  • Have at least 3 years of audited and good performing account.
  • Total financing from RM100,000 to RM5.0 million
  • Financing margin up to 95% from the purchase price (inclusive of legal cost and insurance premium – MRTA and fire insurance)
  • Tenure – maximum 20 years (including 3 years of grace period)
  • Interest rate: Prime rate ( 6.35% ) – 1.0%

Eligibility Criteria

Eligible Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
For Private Limited companies, Professional Firms and Cooperatives only. Applicants must have three (3) years audited account showing profit for the past 3 years.

Eligible Projects for Financing

Purchase of premises / buildings whether completed or under construction.
Refinancing from other financial institutions.

Purpose of Financing

  • Financing for fixed property buildings / premises
  • Financing is packaged with the cost of legal documentation includes legal fees and stamp duty only.
  • The financing is also packaged to pay for the insurance cost for the first premium payment for fire and all perils coverage policy and MRTA (only for single ownership and partnership)

Types of Facilities

Bai’ Bithaman Ajil / Bai’ Istisna’ for Islamic Financing (Sale and purchase prices are packaged together with the purchase of the premise, documentation cost and Takaful)
i Bai’ Bithaman Ajil – Fixed property financing for buildings / premises that are already completed
ii Bai’ Istisna’ – Fixed property financing for buildings / premises that are still under construction.

Total Financing

Minimum of RM100,000.00
Maximum of RM5.0 million

Margin of Financing

For Premises other than factories – Up to 95% from the purchase price (including legal fee and Takaful premium) with the payment breakdown as follows:-
i Purchase from the developer (primary) – Maximum up to 90% of the purchase price.
ii Purchase of secondary premises – Maximum up to 90% of market price.

Factory Premises

Up to 85% from the purchase price (including legal fee and Takaful premium) with the payment breakdown as follows:-

i Purchase from the developer (primary) – Maximum up to 80% of the purchase price.
ii Purchase of secondary premises – Maximum up to 80% of market price.
iii Maximum of 100% for legal fee and Takaful Premium or not exceeding the percentage of the financing stipulated.

Tenure of Financing

Maximum 20 years with a maximum of 3 years of grace period (only for premises under construction).


Repayment are by monthly installments based on tiered basis annually for the first, second and third successive years.

Mixed financing

This financing is especially for purchase of premises and could be packaged with other facilities like fixed working capital and revolving working capital based on the customers’ application.

Fees/ Charges

Processing fee is imposed for a financing totalling RM3.0 million and above at a rate of 0.25% from the total financing or RM20,000, whichever is lower.

Mortgage and Security for financing

Assets financed
Guarantee by Shareholders and/or Director
Corporate Guarantee (if available)
MRTA (only for single ownership and partnership)

Financing Documentations

Charge / Deed of Assignment
Asset Sale Agreement & Asset Purchase Agreement
Guarantee Agreement
Corporate Guarantee Agreement

To Fund a Startup, Go to Malaysia

When Jim Buck was looking for investors to fund trials for the implantable heart device his startup is developing, the search took him far from the usual stops in Silicon Valley and Boston. He made four trips to Asia last year, courting investors in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Malaysia. “Companies like ours with very promising technology that in years past would have been funded very richly are struggling to find money to even stay in business,” says Buck, a veteran of the cardiac implant industry who became chief executive officer of Mardil Medical in 2010.

The Plymouth (Minn.)-based company, which has four employees, raised $5 million from Malaysia’s government in January and is setting up a research office and hiring engineers in Kuala Lumpur. Mardil’s earlier investors, including the Indian venture capital fund Ventureast, also put in just over $1 million.

Buck, who previously worked for a heart device startup that raised $50 million in 2007, at the height of U.S. investor interest in medical device makers, says that back then “it never would have even crossed my mind to look to Asia.” Since then funding from U.S. VC firms for medical device makers has dropped 35 percent, to about $2.4 billion last year, according to data from the National Venture Capital Association.

The government of Malaysia formed a $100 million fund three years ago to invest in startups as part of a broader 10-year plan to develop high-tech industries. The former British colony has a per capita gross domestic product of about $17,000, similar to Russia’s and less than half that of the U.S. The state aims to become a high-income economy by 2020. “It’s all about creating wealth in the country,” says Mark Rozario, CEO of the fund, Agensi Inovasi Malaysia.

The fund has made seven investments so far. Mardil is its first deal outside Malaysia, but Rozario is looking for more. “It’s an opportunity for us to take advantage of what’s happening in the U.S.,” he says. “The lack of funding sources there is something that we certainly tap into.” Attracting a U.S. startup is a big deal for Malaysia: When Buck went to Kuala Lumpur to sign the deal in January, he met with the prime minister.

Other countries’ funds are also showing interest in backing foreign ventures. In 2009, China’s sovereign wealth fund created a VC arm, WestSummit Capital, with an office in Palo Alto. Last year, Marin Software, an online advertising company headquartered in San Francisco, raised $30 million from a group of investors including Singapore’s investment fund. Cash-rich states “might allocate 1 to 5 billion bucks to go and invest in little companies,” says Michael Maduell, president of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, a Las Vegas research and consulting firm. “That’s very common, and that’s kind of off the radar.”

For Buck, Kuala Lumpur is an attractive place to do business. Because of the difficulty in getting new devices approved by U.S. regulators, Mardil plans to conduct its clinical trials in Europe and Asia and sell its products there first. He eventually hopes to set up what he calls a “center of excellence” at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur, known as IJN, to perfect the implant procedure and train doctors from around the world.

Mardil’s product, called VenTouch, is a sort of jacket that surrounds the heart to help valves close properly, preventing blood from leaking backward. Implanted through the ribs, it’s meant to be a minimally invasive treatment for functional mitral valve regurgitation, a common condition that can lead to heart failure in severe cases. The current treatment involves open-heart surgery to repair valves. Buck says 600,000 Americans would be eligible for the treatment, though only 6 percent of that number get surgery now.

With the new funding, Mardil is increasing the size of its staff, with four new hires planned for Kuala Lumpur and six or eight in Minnesota. Buck says carrying on business between Minnesota and Malaysia has been easier than he expected. Taking advantage of the 14-hour time difference, he gets on conference calls after putting his kids to bed. He expects to travel to Malaysia two or three times this year. The trip takes 28 hours, with a layover in Tokyo. He flies coach.

Buck has no plans to uproot Mardil from Minnesota. If trials demonstrate the company’s technology works safely, he expects the next step will be to partner with a big device company such as St. Jude Medical, where he worked for a decade, or Medtronic, both based in the Twin Cities. But the road there runs through Malaysia. “These are very educated, sophisticated, hungry people that want to do good, that realize they’re on the brink of major growth,” Buck says. “Conditions didn’t exist for them to get their foot in the door five years ago like they do today.”

The bottom line: Malaysia has set up a $100 million fund to invest in startups, including high-tech companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

by John_tozzi, a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.



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CIP150 Grant (Prototype Development)

The CIP Catalyst which is targeted at entrepreneurs in general, offers conditional grants of up to a maximum of RM150,000 (via two tranches of RM100,000 and RM50,000) to teams of innovative individuals with innovative, technology-based ideas in the ICT, non-ICT and high growth technology industries.

The primary objective of CIP Catalyst is to facilitate the transformation of innovative technology-based ideas from entrepreneurs of all walks of life into commercially viable business enterprises that would in turn spur the growth of an innovative knowledge-based society and economy in Malaysia.

With the CIP Catalyst, recipients are given a 12-month period to complete the development of their prototypes or proofs-of-concept.

Eligibility criteria

Any team of entrepreneurs which meets the following criteria:

  • Main applicant is a Malaysian aged 18 years and above, and
  • Main applicant is permanently residing in Malaysia, and
  • The team comprises a minimum of two (2) members and a maximum of five (5) members per application.

Allowable funding

Categories of funding covered under the CIP Catalyst are broad so that recipients will be able to get all the help needed to develop their innovative ideas. These categories include the:

  • Prototype development
  • Proof-of-concept development
  • Business plans development
  • Purchase of market feasibility research
  • Search and registration of Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Surveys on concrete statistical data
  • Product sampling expenses
  • Industry Focus
  • The CIP Catalyst funds the following industries:


  • Mobile/wireless tech
  • Creative multimedia & content development
  • Shared services outsourcing
  • Hardware design
  • Software development (Bio-informatics, consumer productivity applications, data mining & business intelligence, electronic design automation, enterprise & business services, gaming & interactive entertainment, Internet & e-Commerce, networking, communications & connectivity, open source, operating systems, security)
  • Internet-based businesses


  • Biotechnology (Bio-informatics, Bio-chemicals, Bio-diagnostics tools, agriculture and food tech)
  • Advanced materials
  • Advanced manufacturing-related tech
  • Renewable energy / waste management / recycling tech
  • High-technology consumer & business products


  • Semi-conductors (manufacturing of integrated circuits, microprocessors, logic devices, chipsets, memory chips)
  • Life sciences (neuroscience, organic chemistry, potential drug target & method of treatment inventions, protein & nucleic acid-based inventions, small molecule chemistry & pharmaceuticals, medical devices, drug delivery systems, molecular biology assays, tools & techniques, analytical chemistry)
  • Clean technology (energy consumption, power management, alternative fuels & materials)


As a CIP Catalyst recipient, entrepreneurs will be provided with more than just prototype funding. Recipients will also get value-added services that will help nurture, develop and prepare them to become successful innovators and entrepreneurs, such as:

  • Monitoring of the idea development
  • Mentoring
  • Further funding and market access support
  • Networking opportunities
  • Product and idea refinement
  • Financial training

Application procedure

To apply for the CIP Catalyst grant, follow the steps below:

  1. Visit
  2. Register to obtain your login and password
  3. Once logged on, click on the “CIP Application” tab
  4. In the pop-up box, select Prototype Development
  5. Fill in the online form
  6. Once all information is complete, click SUBMIT
  7. A notification email will be sent to confirm receipt of application


All CIP Catalyst applications MUST be submitted online via Email applications are NOT accepted.

If you are unable to complete the form straight away, click SAVE and continue another day when you have all the information at hand.

Only click SUBMIT if you have completed the entire form and is ready to submit your application.

Applications are processed in batches every month. Batch closing is at end of every month. Applications submitted after the batch closing date will be processed in the following batch.

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