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Alliance Bank Unveils BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition With Expanded Eligibility For Inclusion

Alliance Bank Unveils BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition With Expanded Eligibility For Inclusion

The BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition will be expanded to accept participation by Malaysian-registered SMEs that have been operating between 1 to 10 years with an annual sales turnover of RM500,000 to RM40 million.

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Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad launched BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition today, a cornerstone initiative to empower aspiring entrepreneurs to accelerate their business growth. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the Bank has expanded the eligibility criteria for this challenge so more SMEs can participate for a chance to grow their business exponentially.

Now in its seventh iteration, the Challenge will be expanded to accept participation by Malaysian-registered SMEs that have been operating between 1 to 10 years with an annual sales turnover of RM500,000 to RM40 million. 

This year, for the first time in the BizSmart® Challenge history, it will also feature an opportunity for the top 30 finalists to pitch their business plans and ideas to venture capital investors from 1337 Ventures and 5X Capital.

This gives entrepreneurs an important chance to impress the investors to gain a long-term partner and investment funds that would propel them to the next level.

Finalists will need to impress the judges who will select the top 10 businesses who will proceed to a final round of business pitching for a chance to grab a share of the cash prizes, mentorship, brand exposure and business training worth up to RM2 million in total as well as preferential financing of up to RM20 million from the Bank.

Finalists of the BizSmart® Challenge can also leverage the resources, experience, and know-how of an extensive network of programme partners, including 1337 Ventures, 5X Capital, Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Berhad (CGC) and Cradle. These collaborations, linked by a shared goal of enabling aspiring business owners to realise their full potential, aim at supporting and accelerating the growth of promising businesses in Malaysia.

The launch of the BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition reaffirms our commitment to enable the growth journey of businesses through relevant and dynamic banking and non-banking solutions. We recognise that business owners face various challenges especially during the start-up phase, from securing funding to accessing relevant business coaching. Hence, we are partnering with experts in different fields who can address the diverse needs that they have. As a Bank that aspires to become The Bank For Life for our customers, we want to help businesses succeed at every stage of their life cycle, offering them differentiated solutions to meet their unique needs as they grow.

Alliance Bank Group CEO Kellee Kam.

One of the main highlights of this programme is the lineup of distinguished judges and investors featuring Kam, Bikesh Lakhmichand, Founding Partner & CEO of 1337 Ventures and Natalie Tan, Partner at 5X Capital along with Category Award sponsor representative Sean Tan, Chief Business Officer from CGC and Ecosystem Partner, Mohd Noor Hisham Abdul Bari, Assistant Vice President of MYStartup Malaysia from Cradle. 

CGC President & Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak mentioned, “To date, CGC’s ongoing partnership with Alliance Bank since 2013 has culminated to a total Portfolio Guarantee of RM2.65 billion. Our collaborative efforts continue through this BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition where MSMEs will be provided opportunities to strengthen essential skills, broaden critical knowledge, and get firsthand exposure to industry leaders. 

CGC’s commitment to assist MSMEs in establishing a strong business foundation for sustainable growth is demonstrated through the various financing solutions offered and our Beyond Guarantee initiative, notably the CGC Developmental Programme® which provides MSMEs with financing and advisory assistance.  This syncs with CGC’s mandate to guarantee MSME financing and bridge the gap between financial institutions / development financial institutions and MSMEs.

CGC President and CEO Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak.

Cradle is thrilled to participate in this year’s BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition, a programme that exemplifies our commitment to fostering entrepreneurial innovation and growth. As the focal point agency, together with MYStartup as the Single Window for Malaysia’s startup ecosystem, we remain dedicated to providing essential resources to all entrepreneurs as they navigate their scaling journey towards success. By collaborating with other key players in the ecosystem, we look forward to the path ahead and are optimistic about contributing to a better Malaysia — one entrepreneur at a time.

Cradle Group CEO Norman Matthieu Vanhaecke.

“We are dedicated to nurturing innovative SMEs, particularly those that have defied the odds by transitioning from traditional brick-and-mortar operations to embracing digitalisation. At 1337 Ventures, we support high-growth SMEs that show great potential through digital transformation. I’m excited to mentor these forward-thinking businesses through the fundraising journey and help them secure the investment they need to scale and thrive. This Challenge offers entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to showcase their groundbreaking ideas, gain invaluable insights, and receive the support needed to take their businesses to the next level,” said Bikesh.

While large corporates make up Bursa, it is SMEs that truly form the backbone of the identity of the Malaysian economy and 5X Capital is honoured to contribute in honing the leaders of upcoming companies who solidify that framework. We hope to grow the ecosystem for such companies to breakthrough and thrive via platforms like the Alliance Bank BizSmart® Challenge, which offers ambitious founders opportunities for unparalleled exposure, nurturing experiences and potential funding.

5X Capital Partner Natalie Tan.

Another highlight of this year’s Challenge is a structured three-day accelerator programme led by 1337 Ventures which the top 30 finalists will get to participate in to develop their business plans and pitches in detail.

In addition, participants will benefit from tailored business coaching sessions covering topics such as SME and business challenges, the halal industry and sustainability which will be led by Alliance Bank alongside 5X Capital and selected alumni from previous Challenge seasons.

Since its inception in 2013, the BizSmart® Challenge has received over 2,200  submissions while more than 155 finalists benefitted from the training and mentorship provided.

(Credit: Alliance Bank)

Among its distinguished alumni are industry trailblazers such as Amazin’ Graze, Signature Market, Christy Ng, Chriszen, myBurgerLab, BloomThis and Heal Nutrition, all of whom have since achieved remarkable success in their ventures.

As part of the Challenge, the Bank will also be organising the BizSmart® Business Conference 2024 on 16 July 2024 with the theme “Business Beyond Tomorrow”.

The various panel sessions, fireside chats and breakout sessions will feature speakers from, HEXA Food, Montigo Malaysia by RPG Commerce, Mamee, Venture Capitalists and BizSmart® Challenge past seasons’ alumni.

The 1-day ticketed event will be held at W Hotel Kuala Lumpur and is split into two sessions targeted at different groups of entrepreneurs. The morning session will be catered towards SMEs with less than 5 years of operations while the latter session will feature topics suited to established SMEs undergoing generational leadership transition

Interested SMEs are encouraged to send in their submissions from now until 15 July 2024 and shortlisted participants will be contacted in August.

Go here, for more information about the Alliance Bank BizSmart® Challenge Accelerator Edition.


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