Malaysia certainly isn't the same without our favourite nasi lemak bungkus tepi jalan in the morning or that satisfying pisang goreng and teh tarik for tea time :(
While the Movement Control Order (MCO) has been hard for everyone, there's no denying it's been extra difficult for others. Especially micro-SMEs such as our favourite Ramly burger and char kuey teow stalls, or that neighbourhood kedai we've been going to since we were kids.
Lots of aunties and uncles who run small businesses haven't been able to open. And even the ones who are still open are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
Food stall operators, barbers, cobblers, florists, and other small businesses rely on day-to-day income in order to survive, so it's hard for them to handle unexpected situations like COVID-19
Imagine if you didn't get your gaji every month. It would be difficult to get by right? That's exactly what these micro-SMEs are facing right now. Without their earnings, they don't have enough money for their daily needs.
By the time the MCO is lifted, many of these operators may not have sufficient money to restart their business, and may even have incurred debts. The struggle is real.
The government and large companies are doing their part to help, but it's still difficult for these micro-SMEs due to various reasons
Even if they try to apply for a bank loan, the process is so ma fan and sometimes it's difficult for them to even understand what they're signing up for.
If that wasn't enough, they also have to worry about how they're going to pay back the bank loan in the future, especially if business doesn't pick up again. And after all that, what if their bank loan doesn't even get approved in the first place?
All in all, it's definitely difficult times for these micro-SMEs, who are truly struggling to just stay afloat. :/
So, how can these micro-SMEs survive?
As mentioned, the government and some large corporations are trying to help.
For example Axiata, together with its subsidiaries Celcom, edotco, and Axiata Digital, and supported by the Ministry of Finance, has set up a RM150 million cash fund to help struggling micro-SMEs.
"We have a very tight window to cast a lifeline to quickly get them back on their feet in order to weather and recover from the pandemic," said Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, Axiata's big boss.
"We have a national duty to contribute whatever we can to help as fast and as much as we can. This micro-financing program is one area we can assist in our own small way, quickly and efficiently", he added.
The program is made possible via Aspirasi Assist, a digital platform that channels funds to micro-businesses. Aspirasi Assist is run by Aspirasi, which is a subsidiary of Axiata that provides digital financing services.
Initially, the program was only available for merchants within the Axiata ecosystem (Aspirasi, Boost merchants, and Celcom vendors), but now, any eligible merchant in Malaysia will be able to receive financial assistance!
The best part is that it's super easy to apply! All it takes is a three-minute online process, and the funds will be in their bank accounts within 48 hours once approved.
The micro-financing from Aspirasi Assist is a financing facility but with special interest and repayment terms. This is a quick, easy, and accessible way for micro-SMEs to get financial help in their time of need.
Here are some of its features:
- Micro-financing from RM1,000 up to RM10,000
- Profit rate of 0.5% per month
- No repayment for the first six months
- Repayment tenure of up to 15 months
Plus, the Aspirasi Assist micro-financing offers additional micro-insurance coverage to give micro-SME owners even more protection
From providing emergency expenses relief to protecting against accidental death, and even COVID-19 Assist, this will allow micro-SMEs to rest easy, knowing that Axiata's got their back.
Here are some highlights of the micro-insurance coverage:
- Emergency expenses relief: Up to RM1,000
- Personal accident coverage: RM10,000
In these tough times, we've gotta come together as a nation and do what we can to help those affected
Something as small as tapauing food from the hawker near your house or buying your essentials from the neighbourhood sundry shop can go a long way in helping them.
In the spirit of #KitaJagaKita, Axiata wants to remind us all to do our part and help however we can. Together, we can make it through this!
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