Wed, 19 May 2021

According to the UN, about 90% of all enterprises in the world are classified as micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. Approximately 70% of the working-age population are engaged in the work of SMEs and constitute around 50% of world GDP. Moreover, the share of small and medium-sized businesses in the GDP of developed countries is 50-60%. In Malaysia, this indicator is 40%.

Recognizing the relevance and place of SMEs in the global economy, the international community comes up with various mechanisms of financial, organizational, and expert support for small and medium-sized businesses.

Sekhar Foundation is well known for its charity and social projects. The company strengthens the country's position in financial, educational, and social development. The situation with the pandemic and its impact on small and medium-sized businesses did not disregard the Foundations initiatives and we can observe the development of them today already.

The Biggest economic engine for our country is SMEs. The small traders, farmers. It is the SMEs, and they are the ones suffering the most now.Covid-19 has been unforgiving to everyone. The Sekhar Economic Initiative is social capitalism. It is a sustainable form of wealth creation, where we believe that for it to continue, we have to lift people up.

Economic and business leaders can no longer sit back when it comes to societal development. We must be involved because that is the environment we live in, that is the community we profit from, and so there must be symbiosis. As we take, we must give and grow, Datuk Vinod said.

Vinod Sekhar approaches with maximum responsibility to each project for which his Foundation is taken. All details and features of the region, as well as the economic situation, are considered separately for each case, and after that, a model of the initiative is created. At the moment, the foundation is implementing 3 assistance initiatives in Sabah, Sarawak, and the Peninsula respectively. Each solution differs from each other considering the characteristics of each.

Every community is different. Every requirement is different. These initiatives aim to focus on what is actually needed and how we can help.

The pilot project under the Sekhar Economic Initiative will begin in Ranau, where two programs will be run. The first is to help farmers and fishermen sell their goods at fair market value. The project will ensure their products are consistently collected and paid a fair price for, and then brought to wholesalers, essentially forcing fair practice into the system.

This is social capitalism; well make a little bit of profit but well put the infrastructure in, share modern techniques with them, management systems, help them have better yields and general storage systems for products. Give them a way of building up and having a real income, something thats meaningful and sustainable. - explained Datuk Vinod.

The principles of social capitalism are present in every Foundations initiative. At the very beginning of the creation of this concept, the idea was to spread the principles of social capitalism and improve the principles of business vision around the world. To this day, the idea remains constant.

The second project is the vanilla initiative. As a new crop, were going to bring in vanilla beans. We can do shared farming with vanilla beans that bring a really good price. We have the technology and the people to help us internationally.

Its a support poverty eradication program. Its to support whatever income small traders are earning and help them grow. Were starting with Sabah, but this initiative will be national, Datuk Vinod elaborated.

It has to be mentioned that the realization of all the initiatives is under the personal control of the head of the Foundation. As Vinod Sekhar believes, Sabah and Sarawak are the representation of the true soul of Malaysia.

Sabah is Malaysia to me. Its what I remember the Peninsula was like when I grew up. Real Malaysians, non-judgemental, believing that theyre all Malaysians, that theyre all together.

Its the same thing in Sarawak. Borneo Malaysia in Malaysia. I consider the Peninsula infected, and Sabah and Sarawak are both the antibiotic and the vaccine. And thats why its so important to make sure Sabah and Sarawak are safe.

I think many people share the same view, to make sure the true nature of Sabah and Sarawak doesnt change because they represent the Malaysian soul. And they will help the Peninsula come back to where they are meant to be - the real Malaysia.

I think people like me from the Peninsula, weve succeeded because our economy there has been so strong off the back of Sabah and Sarawak. Lets make no qualms about it. Sabah has had the short end of the stick and weve benefitted, and I think its time for Malaysians to recognize that and understand that now, were in trouble more than just economically. Were in trouble of losing our soul - the Malaysian soul, and Sabah and Sarawak are the only ones that can pull us back from the edge because they still hold true to what being a true Malaysian is., he said.

There is one thing that used to unite people from all over the World and keeps doing that - the Art. You cannot overestimate its impact on the formation of a nation, cultural identity, as well as its impact on the growth of economic performance and the overall welfare of the nation.

This is why the Vinod Sekhar Foundation Petra Kasih program included the Petra Kasih Concert. The large-scale event served as a revival and rebranding of the iconic IKHLAS Concert featuring Datuk Afdlin and Datuk Sheila Majid.

Art is one of the most powerful uniting forces. Music, movies, artwork, those are emotive things. We can either use it for destruction or use it to lift and inspire, to create joy and hope. What I want is to create hope, because one drop of hope is more powerful than any amount of fear. What we have to keep doing is making sure there is hope, so that youths dont sit back and say nothing is going to change.

There is nothing like music to bring people together. There's nothing like celebrities to believe in a dream and share it. There must be another generation that believes in this dream.

I want this concert to be a space to share aspirations and with this concert, we (PETRA Group) now have an entire umbrella to say PETRA is committed to do as much as we can to make life better for others, to make society better - Datuk Vinod Sekhar concluded.

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