Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sabah are emerging thanks to the help of government projects aimed at developing them. Deputy Chief Minister cum State Industrial Development Minister Datuk Seri Raymond Tan Shu Kiah (pic) said a target has been set for 2017, where they aim to bring 200 products by 100 SMEs to 50 outlets across the state. The projected sales profit from this move is over RM50 million, he said in response to Datuk Au Kam Wah’s question in the state assembly sitting in Kota Kinabalu. He said helping local SME entrepreneurs launch their products is one of the ways of assisting the industry besides providing counselling, training, and sponsorship. “Last year, we succeeded in bringing 42 SME products to supermarket chain GMart’s shelves in the west coast of Sabah, and this year, we are targeting more. “Considering that 98 percent of businesses in Sabah are SMEs, efforts to develop this sector is especially important for the state. “On the general front under the National SME Development Council, the gross domestic product contribution of SMEs nationwide has increased from 29.6 percent in 2005 to 36.3 percent in 2015, indicating steady improvement in the industry,” he said. Tan pointed out that 12 programmes carried out by his ministry and others had succeeded in helping out 2,770 entrepreneurs throughout Sabah. The projects, which involved a total budget of RM10.3 million, allowed Sabah to achieve second place in a national review of SME developmental effectiveness with a score of 96.7 percent, said Tan. By the end of these programmes, involved entrepreneurs are expected to be able to stand on their own and become successful without any help from the government. “By focusing on developing their growth, innovation, and sustainability, these local businesses will gain what it takes to compete both locally and overseas,” he explained.