Sarawak’s small businesses need to enhance online presence to weather uncertainty — Wan Junaidi

Wan Junaidi (second left) presenting a mock cheque for RM106,000 to mosques and surau in the Pantai Damai constituency to a representative.

KUCHING, May 6: Small business operators in Sarawak have been urged to quickly digitalise their operations to ensure their survival amidst uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar made this call, following input and feedback from various groups and organisations representing business operators in Sarawak that most businesses that were dependent on the tourism sector were affected by the current Covid-19 situation.

“In view of this, it is crucial for businesses to take the necessary actions to set up a digital presence or risk having to close shop.

“I know many Sarawak-specialty goods producers, such as for layer cakes and salted terubok fish, are having a hard time right now because tourists are not coming in. Therefore, they need to have a presence online so they can still reach out to potential customers not only in Malaysia but also globally,” he said in a statement today.

With the rising number of Covid-19 cases nationwide and the tighter restricted movement measures following the implementation of Movement Control Order (MCO) in some parts of the country, Wan Junaidi emphasised that it was hard to predict when the situation will go back to pre-pandemic days.

“Going digital is the new norm. To date, there are many e-marketplace platforms for businesses to place their products and services out there, including the recently launched e-commerce platform WarongKu,” he added.

Based on observations by the ministry and its agencies, Wan Junaidi disclosed, businesses that have set up digital presence were not only able to survive but have seen significant growth in their monthly sales by as much as 200 per cent.

However, for this migration process to be successful, he said, businesses would need to undertake training as well as skill enhancement programmes in order to be equipped with relevant knowledge and skills.

“Having a digital presence is not simply about parking your product and services in the e-market place. You need to learn other soft skills such as photography and copywriting in order to make your products more appealing to customers.

“I know this is challenging and may require a bit of cost. This is where Medac (Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives) and its agencies can assist as we strive to provide entrepreneurs with hand-holding assistance. For this we have agencies such as Tekun to assist with micro financing and Insken (Institut Keusahawanan Negara) to help with training. Those who are interested, please come talk to these agencies,” he encouraged.

Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi, who is also the Santubong MP, presented RM428,000 worth of grants and allocation yesterday to several organisations in his constituency as well as in other districts.

A total of RM249,000 was distributed to 104 mosques and surau in the Santubong constituency, under a special Member of Parliament grant and RM170,000 were presented to 18 organisations in Kuching via a special grant under Medac. — DayakDaily