Axiata, Celcom and Boost Launches RM150 Million Fund to Aid Micro-SMEs Impacted by COVID-19

Axiata, Celcom and Boost Launches RM150 Million Fund to Aid Micro-SMEs Impacted by COVID-19

by March 26, 2020

Axiata Group alongside its subsidiaries edotco and Axiata Digital announced the launch of a RM 150 Million cash funds to provide financial assistance to micro-SMEs. Axiata’s COVID-19 Assistance Program includes an initial contribution of RM20 million from the Ministry of Finance.

The COVID-19 Assistance Program serves as a direct and urgent intervention by Axiata to give immediate assistance to micro-SMEs facing financial difficulties arising from the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent Movement Control Order (“MCO”) issued by the Government of Malaysia which saw the closure of all non-essential businesses.

Under the current challenging conditions, micro-SMEs, which easily make up more than 50% of SMEs in Malaysia and fall mostly within the B40 segment of society, will face mounting difficulties in operating their businesses. Micro-SMEs tend to have minimal savings and cash flow to buffer against unpredictable events and will not have sufficient funds to sustain daily needs.

Axiata will offer shariah compliant micro-financing through its subsidiary Axiata Digital, riding on the latter’s Aspirasi digital platform, in the range of RM1,000 to RM10,000 and according to them, this will be on favourable terms.

This is targeted to benefit an estimate of 150,000 micro-SMEs within Boost, Aspirasi and Celcom ecosystem, as well as within other ecosystems including its e-commerce and FMCG partners and potentially other telcos and e-wallets.

Interest and payment terms include suspended repayment requirements and concessional interest rates. In addition, Axiata’s COVID-19 Assistance Program will also bundle micro- insurance coverage under Aspirasi to protect micro-SME proprietors and merchants with emergency income, accidental death and COVID-19 assistance.

Addtionally, by leveraging Aspirasi’s advanced digital technology, micro-SMEs will only be required to undergo a quick 3-minute online process and if approved, funding will be made available in 48 hours from their bank accounts. This allows for ease of applications to be made during the MCO period and for funds to be quickly and efficiently disbursed to businesses in need, with minimal or no human intervention.

Axiata’s President and Group Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim said:

Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim

Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim

“We are living in an unprecedented time where many of us are grappling with the rapidly evolving global crisis. None of us have ever experienced something like this in our lifetime! As our government and institutions battle on the hour to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus within our communities, corporate Malaysia is also rising to the fore to leverage on our resources and capabilities to alleviate the impact on businesses and communities. 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.”

“Banks are playing their important role to provide relief for affected SMEs. However, we also need to address the requirements of hundreds of thousands of smaller SMEs that may not meet the standard criteria for bank loans.”

“We have a national duty to contribute whatever we can to help as fast and as much as we can. This micro lending RM150 million cash program is one area we can assist in our own small way, quickly and efficiently.”

Jamaludin said.

Mohd Khairil Abdullah

Mohd Khairil Abdullah

Axiata Digital’s Chief Executive Officer, Mohd Khairil Abdullah said:

“We are fortunate that our fully digital and shariah compliant micro-financing Aspirasi platform can be quickly redeployed to help micro-SMEs in this current extremely challenging environment.”

Idham Nawawi

Idham Nawawi

Celcom’s Chief Executive Officer, Idham Nawawi said:

“As a brand committed to national interests, we have been serving and supporting small businesses for over 30 years. Celcom is grateful to be able to play a role in the rebuilding of Malaysian micro-SMEs at a time when the need is at its greatest.”

Jamaludin added:

“I would like to thank Celcom and edotco for their help in funding this program, Axiata Digital for leading the effort and our partners for participating with us. I would especially like to extend my utmost gratitude to the Ministry of Finance for their generous support and encouragement that allowed us to realise this special national COVID-19 Assistance Program.”

“I also welcome corporations to join us and be part of this program to make a meaningful difference in the livelihood of small businesses.”


Featured image credit: Unsplash