Deputy Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md. Hanipah has expressed optimism that the franchise industry could contribute RM24.5 billion to the country’s gross domestic product next year.

As of June 28 this year, a total of 672 franchise companies have been registered nationwide, he said in his speech at the launch of the Community Franchise Programme in Sabah here Saturday.

Ahmad Bashah said the government has allocated RM8 million for the Small Franchise Loans Scheme (SPKF) through his ministry to assist local franchisees from the low and medium income groups, and as of June, 247 applications for loans totalling RM6.32 million have been approved.

“Although the SPKF fund has only RM1.68 million left, applications are still open,” he said.

Ahmad Bashah said Malaysians’ low participation in the franchise industry is due to the lack of capital and financing as well as the low level of awareness of franchise opportunities.

“This industry is for all income groups,” he said.

A total of 21 franchisors, including 17 from Peninsular Malaysia and four from Sabah, attended the programme.