Article courtesy of The Network Magazine
The 21st century will witness many new industries that were not known or not recognized in the previous century. These industries are created when new fields of study become matured and create opportunities for business and there are potential for the business to be growing exponentially.
The 20th century has witnessed the emergence and tremendous growth of aviation industry from mail delivery service and small scale exclusive passenger travel before World War 2 to more than 100 million passengers every year travelling on international flights.
Now space tourism or civilian space travel industry has emerged and growing and when the first affordable space liner starts its service in a couple of years, most probably this industry will at least imitate the growth of the aviation industry in the 20th industry, and forever change the phenomenon of astronautics and space travel, which traditionally only limited to government funded and very expensive missions.
Generally space tourism industry started about a decade ago when the first space tourist or private astronaut, the millionaire Dennis Tito travelled to the International Space Station (ISS) and stay there for more than a week, which had cost him about RM75 million. However, space tourism also is associated with affordability, and when defined as, “affordable space travel by the general public”, this “out-of-this-world” activity actually started about 5 years ago when there was a serious investment on the development of a passenger suborbital spaceplane which prototype had flown to space a couple of years before that, and resulted in the establishment of Virgin Galactic, the first private suborbital flight provider started and owned by Sir Richard Branson that had sold about 500 tickets to upper middle class and celebrities worldwide.
Suborbital spaceplane is the most economic space vehicle to build and operate, as it can operate from conventional airport without extra infrastructures, and is not capable of reaching orbit because its momentum is not high enough to escape Earth’s gravity, but can fly high enough to qualify its passengers as astronauts and experience brief zero-gravity when its momentum is being cancelled by the gravity at its maximum ceiling. Eventually, there will be hotels in orbit and also on Lunar surface, but before that, suborbital spaceplane will rule the sky, becomes the most important component of the industry. Now there are about 10 organizations worldwide trying to develop suborbital spaceplane, including an international group lead by Space Tourism Society Malaysia Chapter.
Today, space tourism is not an unheard phrase, and is becoming popular day by day as worldwide development is being reported and interest grows exponentially. In Malaysia, the only organization seriously promoting space tourism is Space Tourism Society Malaysia Chapter, a chapter of Space Tourism Society, a not-for-profit organization registered in the State of California. The Malaysian chapter, however is an international pioneer and leader in space tourism, since the organization is now a Board Member of International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, an international organization comprise of spaceflight safety managers, engineers and scientists patronized by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and ESA (European Space Agency), representing Asia, developing countries and the international space tourism community.
Space agencies have their reason to response quite slowly on the progress of space tourism, since NASA, ESA and other major space agencies already had their own transportation infrastructures decades before the emergence of space tourism, but are slowly giving the attention and support as space tourism vehicles like suborbital spaceplane have been accepted as a potential low cost and effective zero-gravity and astronaut training platform which will be useful for the space agencies. The aviation, scientific and spaceflight safety sectors however are very keen on supporting the development of space tourism industry and currently become the catalyst for the total acceptance of private spaceflight initiative and space tourism as a major component of space industry in the near future.
For a developing country like Malaysia, which has limited capability and technology to build massive space travel infrastructure as in the USA and Russia, space tourism industry may be the most practical approach to venture into space travel. The most logical steps would be the government to encourage non-governmental organizations and private agencies to explore the opportunities in the industry in Malaysia.
Malaysia will be celebrating its 54th birthday this year with much fanfare and pride. Pride of country and its people who have experienced a transformation that has seen the country grow from a commodities dependent economy to a low cost manufacturing base to the fledgling high-tech hub that it is today.
Without doubt, the high-tech industries springing up in the corridors of Cyberjaya will be the catalyst for further growth, but engines of growth rely on the economic ecosystem to thrive. Without manufacturing, agricultural, financial and public services to support it, the nascent high-tech industry will wither. With competitive threat from cheaper labour pools encroaching on the country’s more established economic sectors, the only way Malaysia can thrive is through strategic productivity growth by continuously upgrading the skill sets of its workforce.
In a relentlessly evolving global landscape, areas and skill sets needed in order to be ahead of the pack is constantly changing, thus new knowledge has to be persistently acquired to remain competitive. This is where the symbiotic nature of the economy comes into play as technology infuses new life into mature sectors.
The call for increased productivity is not new. What was missing is a sustainable mechanism for continuous learning that would lead to productivity growth.
At the heart of this productivity growth would be an integrated life-long learning programme that starts at the kindergarten level and extends all the way to retirement and beyond which is made possible by advances in the local technology sector. Enter the Integrated Learning Environment, a concept that could possibly tie together the various education and training initiatives into a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.
The Integrated Learning Environment would consist of a technology assisted teaching and learning programme at the primary and secondary levels, a networked learning grid for tertiary education, an Integrated Multimedia Content Development facility and a professional learning grid.
While two components of the Environment have already been started namely the Smart School programmes and to some extent the Open University, the other components have largely yet to be developed on a national scale.
The creation of an Integrated Multimedia Content Development facility is key in this Environment as it enables the development of high-quality content at lower cost and provides jobs for graduates. The networked learning grid for tertiary education is a repository of multimedia content that provides a means for universities to share content for common courses. A first year mathematics course for example, is based on a common syllabus for most universities. By being part of the grid, universities can concentrate on building content that is unique to a particular university and not have to re-invent the wheel.
One of the most important aspects of increasing competitiveness of our workforce is skills training at the working level. Upgrading of skill sets and knowledge is paramount for a worker to adjust, adapt and respond to the competitive environment. However, workers face various limitations in the pursuit of new skills, and those limitations are not just monetary but also time and convenience.
In order to facilitate continuous training of our workforce, a professional training grid can be formed. The grid would consist of training courseware and access facilities for workers to conveniently take courses at home or on publicly accessible computer terminals.
The advent of cheaper broadband services, would make it feasible for rich-media courses in public speaking, increasing rubber yield and engine servicing for instance to be made available when and where it is convenient for the worker.
This is not to say that professional training services and trainers will be made redundant. To the contrary, for most types of skills, self-paced learning would require a period of hands-on time with a trainer before successful learning can take place. The advantage with having self-paced multimedia courseware is that new skills can be upgraded expediently.
For example, a mechanic would need hands-on training for his initial education on engines, but learning about a new injector and its repair techniques can be done using training courseware that can be accessed at his leisure without disrupting working time.
The same situation applies for white-collar workers where the upgrading of skills in software applications, policies, regulations and languages can be done through self-paced training courseware.
This constant cycle of skill upgrade would mean that the nation would have a labour pool that is competitive and can respond quickly to shifting market demands for a particular service.
A potential contributor to the Integrated Learning Environment that is sometimes left-out where workforce planning is concerned is the retiree segment of the population. These are people who have had twenty or more years of experience in a particular area and are prime candidates to be Subject Matter Experts in the area.
With these retirees connected via the Internet to the Multimedia Content Development facility, their knowledge and experience can be captured and encapsulated into training courseware that imparts not only information but also values and best practices.
May it be a traditional farmer who could increase the yield of his crops by employing a new planting technique, or a government officer who could service twice as many customers by utilizing a new process, or factory worker who could cut down the assembly time of a furniture by using an improved gluing technique, the key to productivity is upgrading off skills and the key to making it feasible on a nation-wide basis is the establishment of an Integrated Learning Environment.
Naturally, as a first article for the first issue of this most promising magazine, I would like to write about the Bumiputera Technopreneur.
As a sub-set of the Bumiputera entrepreneurial community, the Bumiputera Technopreneur (BT) is a much misunderstood bunch of people. Unfortunately, without really knowing the peculiar problems and concerns of the BT, the public assumes that the BT exhibits all the short-comings of Malays in general.
As we are told ad nauseam, the Malay community needs the NEP as a crutch, they display bad habits like not repaying loans, they are lousy at meeting targets and deadlines, they fall short of their promises, their time-management is generally bad, they are too dependent on Government hand-outs, are mostly passive-aggressive in the handling of criticism and are secretly proud of the Ketuanan Melayu theory….and the list goes on.
For the Bumiputera entrepreneur, negative perceptions hold no bounds. Without constant help from the Government, it is said that no Malay would succeed in business today. If there are a few who have risen to the top, the reason often given is that they are politically connected and therefore enjoy all the “benefits” that come with such connections, or that they have rich non-Malays partners. Hard work and ability are hardly ever the reasons for the success of any Malay. Well, I am tired of hearing all this. I am also tired of telling people that as a race, we are considerably far behind the Chinese, for example, who have handled money and dabbled in entrepreneurial activity for more than 5,000 years. And yes, we stumble and make mistakes, but who doesn’t?
From time to time, even I succumb to such stereotypical views of the Malay, especially when I encounter them in the lower rungs of the civil service. When I expect a lebih-kurang attitude and instead meet a Malay civil servant, businessman or a technopreneur who is courteous, meticulous and works fast, I am not just thankful but hopeful and optimistic once again. Couple of years ago, I met a bunch of BTs who permanently altered my view of this sub-set of Malays. In my previous capacity as a newspaper editor, I had a fortnightly column and was wondering what to write about that particular week when I remembered the young man from Skali who wowed me with his enthusiasm.
He rounded up a couple of friends and they came over for a Saturday morning chat with me. All struggling in their respective businesses, they were distinctly different and also very funny. Had I been in their situation, I would have been spending entire days feeding my depression with chocolate cake. But they were determined to clear the path before them.
Ironically, although the Government had specific loans and grants to fund technopreneurial development work, the systems and processes were tied up in red tape and gridlocked by meaningless rules and regulations.
They each talked about how they were handling their problems. Yes, it was tough but we will get there, one of them said. Today, all of them have advanced in significant ways. They are still making mistakes but they have not given up.
A number of them sit on the NEF council and they remain as hopeful as they used to be. More recently, at the NEF AGM, I met more BTs – and their stories tell me that the Bumiputera technopreneurial community is still struggling to be heard and noticed. No one, however, is expecting handouts. Instead, they are looking for ways to help one another – and themselves, of course – up the ladder of success.
This tells me that it is time to change that old story about the Malays, don’t you agree?
Remember when they used to sell kuih door-to-door? Well, this business was managed single-handedly thanks to a marketing tool – word of mouth. This reliable marketing tool is still available today.
Today, this marketing tool is a medium everyone calls, Twitter.
Twitter is one of the famous social media marketing tools. Social media marketing is the process of gaining traffic or attention through social media sites like Twitter or Facebook and encourages audiences or customers to share and spread news, events or discounts within their social networks.
Picture source: http://7.mshcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/twitter-graph.jpg
With around 5 million Twitter users to date, this little birdie holds a lot of opportunity. Twitter, also known as ‘micro-blogging’ is a platform for you to update or share ideas, information, and resources. It allows you to ‘tweet’ as often as you want, limited to 140 characters (not words). Simply follow someone to start reading their tweets and they follow you to read your tweets. So, how will twitter benefit your business?
Create valuable network Twitter open doors that connect you – as a business owner to other business owners. The best thing about this is that it is localized. By just writing, reading, retweeting and replying each other’s tweets, you can create and build valuable networks. You can meet up with potential collaborators, vendors and new business leads with people who share the same interest as you do.
Connect with your customersGetting in the groove is easy. After several followers, you’ll find that you know who they are as a person, where they have been and understand what makes them tick. As you get to know them, you get to dig up insights to gauge their interest. This will help you better understand them as potential customers.
As you build relationships, your followers will more likely spread your name along to someone else. But remember there’s a fine line between sharing and spamming.
The power of ‘Retweet’It is in our nature to trust the opinions of people we know more than anyone else’s. Think of it this way, the next time you want to get a haircut of course you’d trust a friend to recommend a good hair dresser. This is the same as a retweet. A follower share tweets by retweeting a tweet, causing it to spread from one network to another. Imagine this, plus the power of push technology - contents are available on mobile devices where everyone is almost always online, information can rapidly spread faster.
To end this, one has to remember that Twitter requires more than just latest discounts, specials or offers, it’s about building relationships. Share more information, respond and help them with their questions, keep their best interest at heart, this in the end will build continuous trust. As the voice of your business, remember to be yourself and just have fun with it!
So, start tweeting today!
The recent 2012 Budget presented by Datuk Seri Najib left many industries with a lot to smile about. Monetary resources and tax incentives were aplenty, with no less than 4 funds specially created for the SME sector.
They were revealed under the key focus of ‘Accelerating Investment’ – as part of the drivers to boost SME growth and further establish Malaysia as an Islamic financial hub.
This was the first financial aid for SME that was presented by Datuk Seri Najib:
“Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) contribute about 31% to GDP, 56% to the workforce and account for 19% of total export. To further strengthen SMEs’ contribution to economic growth, a shariah-compliant SME Financing Fund totalling RM2 billion to be managed by selected Islamic banks will be established in 2012. The Government will finance 2% of the profit rate.”
The second fund will be managed by SME Bank and scheduled to be available from January. It is viewed as a preventive fund to help SMEs brace for any eventuality of recession or economic slowdown.“The failure of entrepreneurs is not totally due to their lack of business acumen but due to factors beyond their control such as economic recession and higher costs. Genuine entrepreneurs must be given a second chance to succeed. For this, the Government will provide RM100 million for the SME Revitalisation Fund. This scheme offers soft loans up to a maximum of RM1 million for entrepreneurs to revive their businesses.”
The third fund serves as a practical measure to aid SMEs in view of more frequently occurring natural catastrophes, as well as to mitigate the subsequent impact on Malaysians in general (as in the case of massive flooding in the Indochina rice regions).
“The Government will establish an SME Emergency Fund amounting to RM10 million to assist SMEs affected by natural disasters. This is a proactive measure to help SMEs to recover and restart their businesses quickly. This Fund will be channelled to SMEs in the form of grants and soft loans through SME Corporation and MIDF. The scope of financing will include procurement of equipment and machines to replace machines destroyed in the disaster, purchase of raw materials as well as repair and restore their premises.”
Finally and by no means the least, this fund will be lauded by entrepreneurs in the innovative fields of IT, technology design, software development and agro-based R&D, to name a few.
“To enable SMEs to commercialise research products, the Government will establish a shariah-compliant Commercialisation Innovation Fund totalling RM500 million with an attractive profit margin. This fund will finance SMEs whose products have undergone market commercialisation verification process. Effective 2012, this fund will be available at selected Islamic banks with the Government financing 2% of the profit rate.”
It is envisaged that this incentive will further encourage and enable SMEs to carve out new niches and help them through their growth phase, and bear up with the difficulties of shrinking margins. In addition, it will be most welcomed as most commercial banks do not find it viable to extend credit for start-up ventures.
These days, as the competition gets more vicious, the younger generation has to work harder to succeed. Thus, young entrepreneurs are born. Getting ahead now means, starting your own business, as Malaysia is moving towards becoming a high income nation, the government seek to start them young and in turn shaping them into becoming the leaders of tomorrow.
"You don't have to be rich in order to become an entrepreneur", said visiting professor at Asia-Europe Institute, University Malaya, Professor Reimund Sidelmann. The former political science professor of Giessen University, Germany said people should particularly support the spirit of improving innovative thinking. The students should be encouraged to ask questions and come up with their own innovative ideas, to nurture the entrepreneurial culture in higher education.
Recently, the National Entrepreneurship Council of Higher Education was launched to strengthen and enhance the efforts to promote entrepreneurship values in higher education institutions. The inception of these efforts will start from primary level, to cultivate innovative and independent young thinkers who can put their ideas on the right track.
Amongst the obstacles faced by lecturers and experts, is the lack of entrepreneurship facilities to attract students that can guide them to become successful entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship education not only teaches the skills of creating products but to also help students understand marketing and promotions as well as idea development and teamwork. "Entrepreneurship is about difficulties that new beginners have to learn in running their business. Education about entrepreneurship, therefore, is extremely important," said Prof G.T Vinig, University of Amsterdam's Professor of Entrepreneurship. He suggested that young entrepreneurs should establish many strong business networks within the business industry for the success of their business careers.
The president of University of Wales, United Kingdom, Professor Marc Clement said every university had the ability to help their countries generate economic growth through knowledge economy. In universities, we have the access to those who have talents in subjects such as global perspective, multi-disciplinary environment, entrepreneurial mindset and open innovation approach, which can help to develop young entrepreneurs," said Clement.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said "We hope that the council will act as a bridge between academics, industry, entrepreneurs and relevant agencies and be able to coordinate the development of entrepreneurship education to be aligned with national policies,"
Reference image taken from: http://wollytech.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Entrepreneurship.jpg
We see them everywhere - that funny looking square-like maze. It's on business cards, direct mailer, advertisements and even at the side of a bottle, just waiting to be decoded. But what exactly is a QR code? What is it for? As smart phone becomes a daily necessity for everyone, more businesses are using QR Codes as part of their marketing communications. This article addresses just that and from what a QR code is and how small businesses can leverage on this little wonder.
Short for quick response, the QR code is a 2-dimensional barcode that stores data and can be scanned both vertically and horizontally with a smart phone. The QR code can store a variety of data beyond numbers like web addresses and contact information.
You need a 2D barcode reader app in your phoneto decode the encoded data in the QR code. Usually, the 2D reader is available on your mobile app store for free. It's easy to scan a code, take out your phone, open the app and then scan the QR code, wait for the app to decode and it will redirect you the content encrypted inside. It's that simple.
Picture source: http://blog.avivo.si/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/How-to-scan-qr-code.png
Typically, the QR code is used to bridge the gap between offline to going online. It's a shortcut to information that drives your customer to your website, a video or map directions to your retail store.
The content of the code should provide a special value for your consumer like rewards, discounts, exclusive limited edition content, useful tips or sneak peeks. There is also QR code that serves as contact information like vCard and meCard, so users can scan and directly save your contact information straight in their phone.
One of its wonder is that this 2D barcode can be placed in and on nearly any location (as long as it is not on a reflective material). Be it on newspapers, the computer screen, billboards, packaging, cake frosting and more, it enables you to drive traffic, interaction and conversion from anywhere around the world. Think of it as bringing the non-digital medium to life, as to enhance the user experience. But remember to really think of its purpose, what the hyperlink can extend to. If a user could click the hyperlink, why give them the trouble of scanning it to complete the same task?
The QR code includes tracking analytics that could track the number of scans while other tools provide detailed demographics of the scanner. Some data may vary where it depends on the reader app used for scanning. Some of these management tools are inexpensive to purchase while others are offered for free.
Now, the QR codes can easily be customized to reflect your brand. You could try and design them yourself or you could connect with QR art experts at QRarts.com or Delivr.com. The Microsoft Tag also allows artistic expression. Their custom tag tool allows users to generate art from codes or overlay codes on top of photographs.
(Caption: QR Code)
Picture Source: http://www.coroflot.com/wuyuankai/graphic-design/9
For more ideas on how you can use the QR codes, here's a video on how Tesco in South Korea uses the QR code.
Malaysia’s wholesale and retail sector (or ‘retail’ for short) is a major contributor to gross national income (GNI), contributing to some RM57 billion in 2009. And according to the Department of Statistics, the sector is also responsible for creating almost 500,000 jobs. It’s no wonder then, why retail has been identified as a key driver of domestic consumption – which in turn will lead to economic growth – to achieve Malaysia’s 2020 GNI target.
Given the importance of retail as a driver of domestic consumption, and the need to reverse the decline of the sector, the government has designated it as a National Key Economic Area (NKEA) and intend to more than double its GNI contribution by 2020.
Definition of The Retail NKEA
The scope of the retail NKEA covers various trade activities as defined by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (MDTCC) in its Distributive Trade Terms. For more details of segments covered under the Retail NKEA, copy this link www.kpkk.gov.my/pdf/tahukah_anda/ETP_bi/chapter8.pdf and paste it into your browser.
13 Entry Point Projects (EPP)
Now just as National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs) are the engines of growth, Entry Point Projects (EPP) will be the spark plugs that fire up these engines. In the implementation plan, 13 EPPs have been identified for the retail sector with each categorised less than one of these 3 themes: Modernise, Globalise and Revolutionise.
Theme 1: Modernise
It has been noted that the traditional retail sector, especially small grocers, automotive workshops, hawkers and night market operators, lack scale and skill. As such, the ETP’s strategy is to modernise the sector by expanding the number of modern large format stores. This includes assisting small operators through improvement initiatives in skills, IT and processes that will elevate their operations and customer service to a new level, in line with what one would expect in a high income nation’s retail sector. The following are the EPPs identified for implementation under this theme.
EPP 1 : Increasing the Number Of Large Format Stores Like Hypermarkets, Superstores And Departmental StoresEPP 2 : Helping Small Retailers to Modernise Via Program TUKAREPP 3 : Modernising and Amalgamating Various Local Market Formats into Large PasarsEPP 4 : Increasing Quality and Service Levels Of Automotive WorkshopsEPP 5 : Developing Makan Bazaars – Large, Premium, Professionally-Managed Food Centres
Theme 2: Globalise
Local retail malls are reputed to be among the best in the region, with mall operators having more than 35 years’ experience in developing exciting and consumer-oriented shopping experiences. As such, there is every reason for the retail sector in Malaysia to intensify export of its skills and products. And this is exactly what the government has in mind: export such capabilities to other cities in Asia, e.g. to Vietnam and China. Similarly there is advantage in providing global exposure to local SMEs through a common virtual retail platform labelled ‘Virtual Mall’. In the pipeline too, are plans to acquire foreign retail brands. And all this ambition will be implemented over 3 EPPs.
EPP 6 : Developing 1Malaysia Malls (1MM) In Emerging Markets like Vietnam and ChinaEPP 7 : Developing a Virtual MallEPP 8 : Facilitating Local Businesses to Acquire Stakes in Foreign Retail Businesses
Theme 3: Revolutionise
This innovative approach initiates the deployment of bold concepts, and mobilises the skills and experience of a maturing retail sector. It targets the removal of import duties on selected products, setting up wellness resorts, organising unified Malaysia sales, intensifying the transformation of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport into a retail hub and boosting the development of big box boulevards.
EPP 9 : Removing Import Duties on All Finished Goods EPP 10 : Setting Up Wellness ResortsEPP 11 : Organising Unified Nationwide SalesEPP 12 : Intensifying the Transformation of Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA into A Retail HubEPP 13 : Developing Big Box Boulevards
Can You See An Opportunity In The Making?
For further details on how your business can be integrated into the EPPs, contact the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives & Consumerism at the following touch points:
EPP 1EPP 3EPP 9
Encik Aman Shah b. Siraj
Tel: 03-88826253 (Office) / 019-6891267 (Mobile)Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Puan Nurwajihah Ajlaa binti Ali
Tel: 03-88826948 (Office) / 012-3780427 (Mobile)Email: email@example.com
EPP 2EPP 5EPP 6
Encik Zahari bin Md Afandi
Tel: 03-88826934 (Office) / 019-3386404 (Mobile)Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Encik Mohd Khairul Dahri bin Mohd Zawawi
Tel: 03-88825827 (Office) / 019-3850027 (Mobile)Email: email@example.com
EPP 4EPP 8EPP 12
Encik Salsuriya Bin Selamat
Tel: 03-88825580 (Office) / 019-2629955 (Moble)Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Encik Ahmad Fitri bin Ali
Tel: 03-88826949 (Office) / 014-2662022 (Mobile)Email: email@example.com
EPP 7EPP 10EPP 11EPP 13
Encik Arunan Kumaran
Tel: 03-88826937 (Office) / 012-6193337 (Mobile)Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Encik Yeow Chin Chai
Tel: 03-88825938 (Pejabat) / 019-6811266 (Talian bimbit)Email: email@example.com
Feature: Secret Recipe
Fourteen years ago, Secret Recipe was introduced as the first alfresco café concept in Kuala Lumpur, with the promise to offer an entirely new dining experience with emphasis on quality products, variety, moderate pricing and a contemporary ambience.
It was certainly a bold move, as that period saw the Asian financial crisis gripped much of Asia beginning in July of 1997. Undaunted by this unexpected turn of events, Secret Recipe kept to its resolute decision to open its doors in SS2, Petaling Jaya – and with only a staff of two.
Since then, Secret Recipe has more than made its presence felt, with a rapid growth of over 250 cafes in the region and almost 4,000 staff in its employment. Yes indeed. The now familiar white-on-red logotype proudly serves as a reminder what of hard work and smart entrepreneurship can achieve. And this was how a Malaysian brand was able to stamp its mark successfully in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, China and Brunei, even way down south in the state of Victoria, Australia.
One of the reasons why Secret Recipe cafes are so widely accepted is that they not only offer a wide variety of cakes; the cafe’s concept is flexible, hence different menu items are offered in different countries. That’s why Malaysian favourites like nasi lemak and mee goreng can be found in some of the overseas outlets.
Right from the beginning, the brainwave behind this piece of inspiring tale – Dato’ Steven Sim – was very much involved in the brand building exercise of the business. He, together with his team, were focused on creating their own distinctive logo, corporate colour, marketing strategies, uniforms, menu layout, interior design and customer service standards which were crucial in the recognition and acceptance of this local brand name.
Expansion to overseas was one thing. Competing with more established brands was the hurdle that Secret Recipe had to overcome. And triumph they did.
In 2007, Secret Recipe Cakes & Cafe was awarded the International Franchisor of the Year award by Franchising and Licensing Association Singapore. The company has also been recognised as the Largest Café Chain by the Malaysia Book of Records.
It also grabbed several international awards such as Indonesia’s Best Restaurant Award 2006 given by Yayasan Penghargaan Prestasi Indonesia, Best Casual Dining Restaurant of The Year 2007/2008 by Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards and Philippine Tatler Best Restaurant 2008 by The Philippine Tatler Magazine.
Dato’ Steven believes that to be different, one must identify the features of a brand that can be sustainable. These features are what makes a brand truly unique and distinctive compared with its competitors. He also recognises that differentiation, innovation, adaptability, research and development, consistency, identity and brand promise are the ingredients that contribute to the growth of his business.Now that’s food for thought.
In Q1 of 2010, the Government mooted the idea of a Masterplan for the development of SMEs in all sectors, with the intention of creating globally competitive SMEs that can enhance wealth creation and contribute to the social well-being of the nation.
It was envisaged that the Masterplan would help provide a holistic development and growth approach for SMEs by looking into needs like funding, capacity building and logistics support to help them explore beyond our shores into regional and global markets.
Now, a year on, the Masterplan has been passed and currently in the stages of implementation.
SME Masterplan (2011-2020)
The Masterplan is divided into two phases with the entire project to be completed in Q3 of 2011.
The First Phase comprises a new SME Development Framework as well as broad policies and strategies to achieve the NEM goals.
The Second Phase will be undertaken to look into the specific action plans and the monitoring mechanism.
From a broad perspective, the Plan focuses on creating an enabling ecosystem to accelerate the growth of SMEs through productivity gains and innovation and to bring them to the next level of development.
Recent diagnosis of SMEs revealed several positive developments. Ever since 2004 – when a more structured framework for SME development was installed – the group has collectively outperformed the overall economy in terms of growth in value-added, employment and productivity. The analysis also showed that high growth SMEs existed across all subsectors, and were the major contributors to the increase in value-added and employment of SMEs as a group.