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Alliance Bank Names 22 BizSmart® Challenge Finalists

Bank extends interim support to help finalists stay resilient during COVID-19.

Kuala Lumpur, 16 December 2020 - Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad (“Alliance Bank” or the “Bank”) today revealed the names of the 22 finalists of the Alliance Bank-EcoWorld BizSmart® Challenge 2020 (“BizSmart® Challenge”) that were shortlisted from over 500 submissions.

This is the sixth season of the BizSmart® Challenge. Since its inception in 2013, the BizSmart® Challenge has provided business training, coaching, mentoring, networking, brand exposure, and financing to business owners. Over the years, it has received over 1,700 submissions and empowered hundreds of business owners in their entrepreneurial journey. The Challenge has helped in the growth of its alumni, which today are household names such as ChristyNg, myBurgerLab, Amazin’ Graze, Biji-Biji Initiative, NutriBrownRice® and Signature Market.

The finalists this year are from diverse industries such as food & beverage, beauty, healthcare, fashion, education, and entotechnology1. They are AOne, Berau by Benak Raya, Betsol, Diva Scarf, Enya, Heal Nutrition, Hijab for Traveller, Lips Carpenter, Me Books, MOOIT, Mosaic Art Studio, Mu Artisan Soy Sauce, Narinar, Ning Salmah, Optastar Protein Industries (OPI), Parcel 365, Pops Malaya, PotonGuler, REQA, The Food Incubator, VANZO, and Wise Crafters.

This year’s BizSmart® Challenge programme has been adapted to provide practical and immediate assistance comprising financial and non-financial support. The interim programme has three support pillars, i.e. Funding & Financial Advisory, Marketing & Brand Awareness, and Business Support & Networking.

“Based on our experience of serving SMEs, as well as learning from our BizSmart® Challenge alumni, we know that young businesses face challenges such as acquiring the right level of funding, access to advice and marketing support. These challenges are even more acute under present circumstances,” said Mr. Joel Kornreich, Group Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Bank and judge of the BizSmart® Challenge

The Bank has started providing business loans to the finalists and tailored financial advice to help them to not just weather the current crisis, but emerge from it stronger.

The Bank is utilising its marketing budget to drive online traffic to the finalists’ business websites via digital advertising and marketing. It had previously provided similar digital marketing support to help local businesses under the #SupportLokal initiative. The #SupportLokal initiative has reached over 7 million Malaysians online, and helped to drive over 50,000 visits to websites of local businesses.

The Bank will also help the finalists to obtain halal certification under the Alliance Islamic Bank’s Halal-in-One programme, which enables them to gain entry into this fast-growing market segment. The Bank will provide guidance in the form of preparatory audit sessions, halal training, and marketing.

In addition, the Bank is enrolling the finalists onto its BizSmart® Solution portal. The one-stop portal brings together a community of businesses, enabling business owners to reach out to new customers, and access relevant solutions and resources to manage their business more efficiently.

The Bank has facilitated a number of networking sessions and exclusive webinars for its finalists with alumni from the previous Challenge, mentors and industry leaders such as Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin, Chairman of Eco World Development Group Berhad, Mr. Malek Ali, Founder of BFM89.9, and Mr. Ernest Kwong, Group Chief SME Banking Officer of Alliance Bank, among others to share as well as exchange useful business ideas.

“The quality of the business ideas and innovations that were submitted this year is a good indication of the thriving entrepreneurial spirit in Malaysia. We believe that these business owners will be able to accelerate their business growth with the additional support that we provide,” said Mr. Kornreich.

“The creativity and tenacity of our country’s young entrepreneurs, whom I have been privileged to meet over the many seasons of BizSmart® Challenge, have never ceased to amaze me. I am especially heartened by the achievements of some of our alumni and their hard work that have enabled them to build resilient businesses that are doing well even today,” said Tan Sri Liew.

“I am confident that with the guidance of the mentors, and the many networking opportunities afforded through the BizSmart® Challenge, our new challengers will be better equipped to not just survive this crisis but also thrive in the years ahead,” he added.  

1Entotechnology: The practice of entotechnology is another sustainable method to organic waste processing — producing food, whether for people, animals or fish.

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