KUALA LUMPUR, March 30 — More than two-thirds of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia expect their businesses to recover from the effects of the pandemic by April this year, according to a Mastercard Impact Study.
The study conducted by Mastercard’s professional services arm, Data & Services at the end of 2020, involving 452 small business owners in Malaysia also showed that 80 per cent have sufficient resources to see out the rest of the year.
“The study found positive levels of optimism among Malaysia’s SMEs. This optimism has been hard-earned as many businesses have been continuously taking proactive measures to protect against the shocks of the pandemic,” Mastercard said in a note today.
The survey found that 31 per cent of Malaysian SMEs are making investments now to ensure that they are prepared for an economic turnaround.
Over the course of the pandemic, 21 per cent established an online presence for their business and 39 per cent enhanced an existing online operation in order to better reach customers.
One fifth to one third of the businesses surveyed, depending on their industry, indicated that their operations had returned to pre-pandemic levels, with the manufacturing sector seeing the strongest return to form.
“This is despite the fact that Malaysian small businesses are facing what is perhaps their greatest economic challenge since the Asian financial crisis of 1997,” Mastercard said.
Respondents indicated labour, finance and sales as their biggest concerns during the pandemic at 74 per cent, 64 per cent and 63 per cent respectively.
In terms of support from financial institutions, 85 per cent of the respondents felt that assistance from banks has been either good or excellent.
As for most valuable operations support, 66 per cent of SMEs wanted lower interest rates on loans, while 52 per cent wanted extended grace periods on debt repayment.
Looking at how businesses expect to grow their operations moving forward, 46 per cent indicated an intention to move towards using non-cash options for payments.
Meanwhile, Mastercard’s Malaysia and Brunei country manager Perry Ong said the company is working actively to support SMEs and businesses of all sizes in adapting to a new normal, ensuring they have the technologies and business insights to thrive in the digital economy.
“While there’s no doubt the Malaysian economy has been hit hard by the pandemic, the findings of this report give us cause to have optimism for recovery this year.
“The fact that so many SMEs have regained stability or are on the path to doing so is a testament to their strength and resolve in adopting new and more digital ways of doing business,” he said.
He added that Mastercard is committed to supporting businesses accelerate their digital transformation journeys and post-Covid-19 recovery. — Bernama