United Overseas Bank Malaysia Bhd (UOB Malaysia) will be collaborating with several trade associations in Sabah to help develop and grow local businesses, both locally and overseas.

The trade associations include the Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (Sabah) (MCCC Sabah)) and the Sabah-China Chambers of Commerce (SCCC).

With the collaboration in place, UOB Malaysia will be extending lending facilities and cross-border financial solutions to more than 300 SME owners affiliated with said trade associations.

The Bank will offer the SMEs with conventional and Shariah-compliant financing solutions at competitive rates and flexible tenures as well as extend government-guaranteed, collateral-free financing schemes administered by Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd (SJPP).

The banks will also provide cross-border advisories and financial solutions to help the SMEs expand into new markets.

UOB Malaysia managing director and country head of wholesale banking Ng Wei Wei said the bank will capitalise on its strong regional network and foreign direct investment advisory (FDI) teams to support Sabah’s SMEs in their efforts to diversify their businesses and to expand into the region.

Due to geographical and immigration factors, development of the East Malaysian economy has been slow. Unfortunately, East Malaysia is oddly situated out of the way of some of the major trade routes connecting East and West, running through Southeast Asia. As a result, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak both did not develop as many ports and cities and Peninsular Malaysia, thus limiting its economic capabilities.

A severe mismatch in population distribution is also a contributing factor as to why infrastructure and economic development of the area has been stunted.

Mr Foo Ngee Kee, one of the representatives of the collaborating trade associations, sees only positive in collaborating with UOB Malaysia to offer its members access to shariah-compliant financing solutions.

“Through this collaboration, our members can get preferential and better access to financing for their current and new businesses. One of the major difficulties that SMEs face is in gaining access to capital and in securing the right amount and types of financing. With the financial advice and solutions that UOB Malaysia has developed for SMEs, I am confident the growth of SMEs can be greatly enhanced,” he said.

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