Datuk Hashim, CEO of SME Corp Malaysia: Time to transform and win big

Time to transform and win big

Published: 2013/04/15

“If you’re really in love, appearances aren’t important. The best house is the one you build in each other’s heart.” 

Yu-jin, Winter Sonata

COMING from someone who is not blessed with good looks, flawless skin and model figure, of course, I would agree with Yu-jin! The South Korean drama series “Winter Sonata” has created a viral effect of sorts as an Asian modern classic drama since it made its debut about a decade ago. I am sure the beautiful melody of its ballad “From the Beginning until Now” still haunts most of us, as it does to me, till this day. Needless to say, people of all ages, not just the makcik and the aunts are tuning in to South Korean television dramas that have flooded the local market. Last year, K-Pop star Psy also introduced the world to his “Gangnam Style”, which went viral in August. The song, which was released in July as the lead single of his sixth studio album, debuted at number one on South Korea’s Gaon Chart. In September, “Gangnam Style” was recognised by the Guinness World Records as the most “liked” video on YouTube. By the end of 2012, the song had topped the music charts of more than 30 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Britain. As of April 1 2013, the music video has been viewed more than 1.5 billion times on YouTube and it is the site’s most watched video, surpassing that of Justin Bieber’s “Baby”.

All these successes came from what used to be a third-world country torn by conflict with its former northern state. How did the Koreans do it? As we can clearly see, apart from technology and innovation that forms the pillar of strength of the South Korean economy, the country has also begun to tap into the creative industry and recognising its entertainment and cultural strength as one of the best-selling products. The diversification and resiliency of the South Korean economy is brought about by their domestic companies, largely their SMEs, which forms 99.9 per cent of enterprises in the country, providing 88 per cent of employment and contributing 47.6 per cent to national production. These South Korean SMEs have carved their way into establishing themselves as the major global force in electronics, heavy engineering, creative technologies as well as multimedia, as their products and services complement those produced by big conglomerates.

Speaking of which, who has not heard about Samsung’s legendary climb to topple Nokia as the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, which the latter had enjoyed for more than 14 years? It only took Samsung one year to achieve this feat in 2012. Even Apple is not able to match it.

Everywhere you turn, there is a Galaxy Smartphone in someone’s palm and fewer of the iPhone, Blackberry or Nokia in someone else’s. The Tiger of the East is indeed proving its prowess as leader in the highly lucrative global smartphone market.

And this is of no surprise as in 2011, South Korea, which is recognised as one of the economic powerhouses in Asia, charted a global trading value of US$1 trillion (RM3.04 trillion).

Over the past years, the volume of trade between South Korea and Asean member countries has been on an increasing trend, recording a total trade of US$124 billion in 2011, ranking them six out of 10 major trading partners in the region.

Leveraging on that potential in creating better economic climate and liberalising trade barriers, the Asean-Korea Free-Trade Agreement was signed for goods in 2006 and for trade in services in 2007, while in August 2009, Asean and the South Korea signed an agreement on investment.

Asean is South Korea’s third largest trading partner and the second largest construction market besides Middle East.

These developments in the region are one of the many success stories of South Korea that Malaysian SMEs must try to learn from.

And what better way than to bring the South Koreans themselves to the shores of Malaysia to share how they did it in such a short time?

For the past two consecutive years, SME Corp Malaysia hosted conferences that facilitated the exchange of ideas and information between Asean SMEs and two of Asean’s dialogue partners, namely China and India.

We have received raving reviews about the successes of the past two conferences.

As we continue with efforts to explore and promote collaborations and partnerships through bilateral trade and investment on a regional and global basis, SME Corp Malaysia, in collaboration with the Small & Medium Business Corporation (SBC Korea), will be hosting the two-day “Asean-Korea SME Conference 2013” on June 13 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Held back-to-back with our annual landmark event, the SME Annual Showcase 2013 (SMIDEX 2013), this conference will focus on leveraging opportunities in South Korea, one of the most advanced economies in the Asian region.

With the theme “SMEs Changing the Game”, the conference will focus on the South Korean dynamic business growth and ways for SMEs in the Asean region to be able to emulate the best practices from the South Korean success stories.

During this conference, a panel of distinguished speakers will facilitate insightful discussions on a diverse range of topics to further the exchange of ideas and share the potential economic growth and market opportunities that are abundant in both economies.

As South Korea charts its way to becoming a global force in innovative technologies, heavy engineering and creative industries, we in Asean, and particularly in Malaysia, should leverage on the networking and business opportunities that are available, particularly with the on-going trade liberalisation under the Asean-Korean FTA.

Hence, I wish to invite entrepreneurs, professionals and trade association representatives to attend this not-to-be-missed conference as there is so much to acquire and gain from it.

So register now on SME Corp website www.smecorp.gov.my I personally look forward to welcoming you in person at the Asean-Korea SME Conference in June.

The South Koreans have transformed their game and won big. It’s time we do the same!

Datuk Hafsah Hashim is the chief executive officer of Small and Medium Enterprises Corporation Malaysia (SME Corp Malaysia)

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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