Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB) is on track to meeting or exceeding its targets for the distribution of financial assistance to Bumiputera entrepreneurs, particularly small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs), under its four schemes this year.
Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Nasir Ahmad said that nine businesses have already been given loans, out of the targeted 12, under the SME packages.
"We have also targeted to distribute loans to 300 Bumiputera retailers this year and, to date, we have disbursed such facilities to 200 retailers.
"Under the graduate scheme, we have already given out loans to 99 graduates out of the targeted 150; and in wholesaling, we have given loans to 16 businesses, from 18 that we had targeted for this year.
"Thus, we are more or less there (meeting the targets). I think we can catch up by the end of the year," he told Business Times in an interview.
PUNB was established in 1991 with the objective of promoting Bumiputera entrepreneurs to be active in business, especially SMEs.
It started by promoting Bumiputera businessmen in the manufacturing sector. After 2000, however, its role was expanded to help Bumiputeras venture into the retail business.
The Bumiputera Entrepreneurs Retail Project Fund (Prosper) scheme was set up in 2000, followed by the Prosper for Graduates (Prosper Siswazah) and the wholesale schemes in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
Overall, Mohd Nasir said, PUNB has disbursed accumulated loans amounting to RM365 million and involving 112 businesses and companies under the SME packages.
"Considering that the package was introduced in 1991 and we started disbursing the loans a year later, the amount disbursed is not much because there is a gap which happened during the financial crisis in 1998-2001 when there were hardly any approvals. We started to reactivate the programme from 2002 onwards," he said.
Prosper was introduced in August 2000. After seven years, PUNB has disbursed close to RM170 million to 1,300 businesses.
Under the wholesale scheme, PUNB disbursed about RM30 million worth of loans in just 18 months to 31 businesses, while under Prosper Siswazah, RM7 million has been given out to 211 graduates.
PUNB expects the composition of its four schemes in the next two years to be 50 per cent retail, 30 per cent wholesale, and 20 per cent split between SME or manufacturing and graduate financial assistance.
Mohd Nasir sees the wholesale scheme outperforming the other three schemes next year, with a target of giving out loans to 25-30 businesses during the year.
"When we first started the scheme (wholesale), we were not so sure whether there were many Bumiputeras involved in the industry and whether they were capable.
"But when we introduced it, the response was better than expected. Last year, we targeted 12 businesses and managed to get 15. This year, we targeted 18 and have already gotten 16. So, by the year-end, the number should even exceed 20," he said.
For the SME or manufacturing services and wholesale schemes, PUNB provides financial assistance of up to RM5 million.
Mohd Nasir said that under the Prosper Siswazah scheme, applicable for Bumiputera graduates aged 30 and below with a minimum diploma qualification, loans of up to RM50,000 are provided.
"But we allow a partnership of two, meaning that in total one business can receive up to RM100,000 in financial assistance.