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How Malaysian SMEs can expand globally through Hong Kong

How Malaysian SMEs can expand globally through Hong Kong
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By Charles F. Moreira, Editor

Two hundred and eighty large and small business owners, key executives, industry association representatives and other interested parties from Malaysia and neighbouring countries learned about how they could find business partners and expand regionally and globally through Hong Kong, at a business luncheon hosted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on 14 March 2018.

“Hong Kong is a good place to build partnerships and to source ingredients for our products. It is a great business-to-business hub and we are strategising on how to leverage upon Hong Kong”, Dato’ Mohd. Nazlee Kamal, PhD, chief executive officer of One Green Solution Sdn. Bhd. told Enterprise TV over lunch.

The Puchong-based One Green Solution specialises in wellness and lifestyle products based upon bio-active compounds, which are marketed under the Sollife brand name and marketed through social networking and distributors.

It focuses on producing components for people to live healthier with a good lifestyle and uses well established ingredients mainly from Malaysia and South East Asia, combined with cutting-edge processing technology and works with partners to manufacture its products.

Fintech

“We are investing in Malaysia and Thailand and will either apply to Bank Negara Malaysia for a license or will partner with companies in Malaysia which have a license and provide them with a fintech (financial technology) system”, Eddie Hu Meng Kui, chief representative Malaysia with Chong Sing FinTech (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., the Singapore-based unit of Chong Sing Holdings FinTech Group Ltd, a Hong Kong-based listed company.

Fintech based upon blockchain technology enables Chong Sing to provide banking services without being a bank and Chong Sing’s fintech solutions focus on providing 24 x 7 online financial services to SMEs, merchants and individuals in China and Asia through internet and mobile solutions, including third-party payments, online investment, technology-enabled lending as well as traditional loans and financing. Besides Malaysia and Thailand, the company is also in the process of expanding its services in across China, Vietnam, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Home palliative care

“We are exploring suitable investors from overseas to help us expand our business in Malaysia and into the region, as well as into China”, said CT Siah of Kuala Lumpur-based Lifelink Homecare Sdn Bhd.

Established about 20 years ago in Malaysia, Lifelink Homecare provides post-hospitalisation service and palliative care to recovering patients at home, including one-stop nursing and homecare services, sale or rental of medical and related equipment and supplies medical consumables, nutrition milk and so forth to individuals who require professional nursing care as well as assisted living facility at home.

e-commerce exhibitions

“We are looking into how we can work with the HKTDC on exhibitions”, said Joanne Chen, business development manager with V Good Marketing Sdn. Bhd, a professional exhibition organiser which focuses on organising e-commerce and exhibitions and on cross border trade.

One of its recent events was the Malaysia E-commerce EXPO at the MATRADE Exhibition & Convention Centre (MECC) from 22-24 November 2017.

The HKTDC holds over 30 international exhibitions in Hong Kong each year and eleven of them form the largest marketplaces of their kind in Asia, with jewellery, gifts, watches and clocks, electronics and lighting being the largest in the world, according to HKTDC senior exhibitions manager Byron Lee who briefed participants over lunch.

Whilst many exhibitions are also held in mainland China, however these generally are more domestically, than internationally oriented.

Some major upcoming exhibitions include the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) from 13 to 16 April 2018, the Hong Kong Houseware Fair from 20 to 23 April 2018, the Hong Kong Gift and Premium Fair from 27 to 30 April 2018, the Food Expo from 16 to 20 August 2018, the Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair from 7 to 10 January 2019 and the Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl Show from 26 February to 2 March 2019.

In 2017, the HKTDC’s fairs attracted over 39,000 exhibitors from over 90 countries and regions, and some 740,000 buyers from over 200 countries and regions. Amongst these were 800 exhibitors and over 32,000 buyers from across the ASEAN region.

“Malaysian corporations, especially SMEs, are encouraged to capitalise on the exhibiting and sourcing opportunities from the year-round HKTDC fairs, particularly in sectors such as electronics, ICT, houseware, gifts, food, toys, baby products and jewellery”, said Lee.

The HKTDC has also been rolling out support facilities and services at its fairs, such as the HKTDC Marketplace App which features HKTDC Product Magazines and Supplements, the HKTDC Online Marketplace (hktdc.com) and HKTDC.com Small Orders, which assist buyers to find and connect with relevant exhibitors.

Designs and fashions

The Johor-based fashion apparel retail company, the YFS Group participated in the HKTDC’s Hong Kong Fashion Week three years ago and found it to be an excellent platform to meet businesses from around the world, including from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, many of whom YFS has been able to  do business with, both overseas and in Malaysia.

“We hit the jackpot in terms of sourcing designs from overseas and also learned foreign techniques which enhance our designers’ creativity”, said YFS Group of companies chief executive officer Nicholas Chong. “At the same time we invited overseas suppliers to visit Malaysia where we introduced them to multiple buyers”.

Chong also found the HKTDC’s Marketplace mobile app especially useful since it let him scan their QR code to know their booth’s locations and also let him download their product brochures to his smartphone, instead of having to lug a heavy load of brochures collected around in a big bag.

The initials “YFS” stand for “Young, Fabulous and Sassy” and when the company was founded in 1979, it was a basic apparel company with a rather traditional mindset which was resistant to change, and it took Chong about two years to convince the management to participate in Hong Kong trade fairs.

Today, the YFS Group employes over 1,000 people and has over 61 retail stores nationwide, many of them located in neighbourhood malls. These stores are branded as Ad Jeans American Denim, Mikayla by Sara, YFS Concept Store, whilst its other brands include Adconnexion, Adexchange, Ad.One, AdKids, MGS Ming Shu, Sara Women, Touch Up, Jeansmith and Virni. YFS also carries brands under license.

The YFS Group also currently has six CoCo Concept Stores selling Japanese fashionwear and plans to increase the number of these.

Whilst the YFS Group has its own in-house designers and manufacturing facilities, it mostly sources its designs from China where it collaborates with a ‘very good’ government-owned factory, and to a lesser extent it also sources designs from India and Pakistan.

“By exposing our designers to foreign designs and materials, we can learn to sharpen our own products, become more creative in our designs and produce them more cost effectively”, said Chong.

YFS also finds young Malaysian designers to be more creative and they better understand current fashions, such as new clothes designed to look a little worn

Women entrepreneurs

The Association of Bumiputera Women in Business and Profession (Peniagawati) had organised several trade missions to HKTDC exhibitions, including the Centrestage fashionwear exhibition.

“We were exposed to other entrepreneurs in Hong Kong and met many exhibitors and buyers. Shortly after our visit to Centrestage, we participated in the KL Fashion Week exhibition and we plan a mission to the upcoming New York Fashion Week exhibition in New York in September 2018, and any Malaysian women entrepreneurs (not just Bumiputera) are welcome to sign up to join us”, said Peniagawati president Dato’ Azlin bt Ahmad Shaharbi.

“HKTDC exhibitions are good value for money and the HKTDC took good care of us by helping us find affordable travel and accommodation, helped us meet potential business partners there, helped guide us and show us around, provided us with shuttle buses and helped us with other conveniences”, Dato’ Azlin added.

Typically, such trade missions need to have at least 15 to 20 participants and where fewer show interest, Peniagawati will instead help provide interested women entrepreneurs with information about the upcoming exhibition.

As to why Perniagawati’s trade missions were only to fashionwear exhibitions so far, Dato’ Azlian explained that whilst her association’s members are involved in various industries, including food & beverage, lifestyle, cosmetics and even oil & gas, however participants in its missions to Hong Kong so far, were mostly interested in fashionwear exhibitions.

“Women make good entrepreneurs and there are many successful women entrepreneurs, since entrepreneurship is about growing companies and women have the resilience, perseverance and good networking skills”, said Dato’ Azlin.

Hong Kong – Malaysia trade

Malaysia was Hong Kong’s ninth-largest trading partner worldwide in 2017 and its third-largest trading partner in the ASEAN region, with bilateral trade worth US$18 billion, up 22% year-on-year.

Malaysia was Hong Kong’s fourth-largest export market with total exports worth US$3.7 billion, up 5% Y-o-Y and Hong Kong’s second-largest import market, with imports worth US$14.7 billion, up 27% Y-o-Y.

Major items traded between Hong Kong and Malaysia, include telecommunications equipment and parts, semiconductors, electronic valves and tubes, electrical apparatus for electrical circuits, as well as parts and accessories of office machines and computers.

 

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