Welcome back to an-all new Head’s Up. In collaboration with SATU Creative, we bring you entrepreneurs who are tackling challenges and continuing to rise up to new occasions.
This week, we are featuring Mohd Hisham Bin Khairul Nasir, the founder of superapp, WeGÖ. He shares the path to recovery, necessary pivoting needed in the face of challenges and his wishlist on the upcoming Budget 2022.
We also have a short commentary on the initiatives and policies the Government should be looking into for the upcoming Budget 2022 by Professor Wong Koi Nyen, Professor and Associate Dean (Education), Department of Economics and Finance, Sunway University Business School.
Budget 2022 Commentary
By Professor Wong Koi Nyen,
The Malaysian enterprises had been adversely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the majority struggled to meet the operating cost because of the prolonged lockdown. In the upcoming 2022 Budget, the policymakers/government should pay attention the problems that stalled the growth engine of the Malaysian enterprises during the pandemic period. Issues faced by the enterprises in the post-pandemic include the high initial cost of establishing new outlets, purchasing machinery and equipment, as well as cash flow problems.
In the 2022 Budget, enterprises should be provided with preferential access to interest-free loans through financial institutions so that their stalled growth engines can be reignited. Particularly, businesses that were affected by the pandemic should be exempted from income tax for at least 3 years. The full income tax exemption is not only instrumental in improving cash flow for the pandemic-affected businesses but also it could stimulate economic activity and employment during the post-pandemic recovery.
Q&A with WeGÖ Founder, Mohd Hisham Bin Khairul Nasir
How would you describe 2021 as an enterprise and what were some of your highlights?
2021 is the first chance of recovery after a tumultuous 2020. Some of the highlights include completion of our super app WeGÖ despite the hurdles and challenges arising from the pandemic, working from home, and having several team members affected in between.
How did you pivot in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic?
The pandemic provided an opportunity for us to pivot significantly. Prior to the lockdown in Malaysia, we were worried as most of our business operations were affected by the new restrictions.
When the lockdowns began, we made terrible losses on day 1 and quickly went back to the drawing board to cater to the needs of the people as allowed by regulations. On day 2 of the first MCO, we saw increased demands for our super app services, then the beta version called BeGÖ, and this allowed us to generate enough profit to complete a new and improved super app platform which proved to be as competitive as international platforms a year later.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs facing similar challenges?
I understand it may be hard as you have invested so much time and energy into your business only to have it grinding to a halt because of the pandemic. I myself am a ‘kiasu’ or a person who refuses to give up come hell or high water.
But as the pandemic escalated, I finally felt the burn and saw how it wrecked the socio-economics of my community. It was my father, who is a veteran entrepreneur himself, noticed how stressed out I was and shared some advice which I wish to share with you too:
One is to never borrow money from ah long or loan sharks. Discuss with your family first if you’re in financial trouble. Additionally, this is a period a lot of people have bowed down and surrendered because of COVID-19. It is okay to admit defeat this round.
There are also other opportunities out there. It is during difficult times a lot of business ideas appear. So be open to pivoting.
On the digital front, how have you adapted? And what was the outcome like?
Despite downsizing initially during the first lockdown, we invested in tech development using the newfound profit to create a proper super app. We now have a super app platform to cater to deliveries, e-hailing, online mall, and services complete with proper backend to allow our admin to shift their energy from managing to just supervising and handling customer or business partner’s inquiries.
5. In the upcoming Budget 2022, what sort of initiatives/policies should the government undertake to better help Malaysian enterprises?
I urge for a temporary 6 - 12 months salary subsidy that will allow SMEs some breathing space to make a comeback.
They should also continue similar existing digitalisation grants to propel SME to join the Industrial Revolution 4.0 so they can better survive the post-pandemic market. I would like to see Putrajaya continue similar incentives for hiring employees and gig workers as we begin our post-pandemic recovery.
6. How has Satu Creative aided you as an entrepreneur to get through these hard times and what was the outcome like?
Satu Creative helped us establish a network of relevant bodies for us to navigate both as a startup and as a business amid a pandemic. They offered one-to-one coaching at any time to see how they can make our business plan better.
Besides that, Satu Creative proactively notified us about new pitch opportunities and coached us to make our pitch deck better which has led to 2 successful pitches this year.
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