What Is Market-Based Financing For SMEs?

Market based financing for SME

Image Source: ICMR

The Institute for Capital Market Research Malaysia (ICMR) has unveiled the results of its latest research report. The report, “Market-Based Financing for SMEs in Malaysia: Issues, Challenges, and Way Forward”, was launched by the Securities Commission (SC) Malaysia today. 

ICMR’s research identifies small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as the backbone of Malaysia’s economic growth. The report itself is a comprehensive overview of the current state of access to market-based financing for SMEs. It also outlines the challenges and opportunities.

Overview of current state of SME financing

Overall, the report reveals that there is a pressing need for a more diversified financing ecosystem. More financing options can help empower SMEs to thrive in new innovation-driven growth sectors.

Market-based financing includes a wide range of funding options. These include:

  • listing opportunities (IPO)
  • venture capital (VC)
  • private equity (PE)
  • equity crowdfunding (ECF)
  • peer-to-peer (P2P) lending

If SMEs had greater access to these diverse funding opportunities, this could address challenges posed by limited collateral and credit history. At the same time, this can reduce SMEs’ reliance on a single funding channel, thereby enhancing their financial resilience.

To this end, ICMR had conducted an enterprise-level survey targeting key-decision makers in different types of SMEs. This included startups, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and mid-tier companies (MTCs). The aim is to provide a comprehensive overview of the financing landscape for SMEs across Malaysia. The survey was also complemented by qualitative interviews and focus groups with SMEs, government agencies, and intermediaries.

Survey reveal low utilisation of market-based financing

One of the key points highlighted in the survey is that 64% of SMEs have experience in raising external finance, with the banking sector being the most commonly utilised. Market-based financing is the less utilised option (primarily for business expansion). Among respondents with no experience in market-based financing, 61% were aware of its availability, while 39% remained unaware.

The report also revealed that the biggest challenges that SME face when adopting market based financing.

Key challenges identified are:
– complex and lengthy procedures
– stringent requirements, high funding costs
– lack of outreach by industry players

The survey revealed that these challenges are more commonly found among SMEs outside urban areas.

Lack of access to agencies providing grants and loans

Moreover, knowledge gaps and talent shortages within the SME financing ecosystem were consistently highlighted during interviews by various stakeholders. SMEs also face a significant challenge due to the scarcity of data available to investors, financial institutions, and agencies providing grants and loans. The survey highlighted that  this result in information asymmetries that lead to higher costs for monitoring and evaluating SMEs.

Based on these results, the ICMR report also puts forth a number of recommendations to address these issues. Key recommendations highlighted in the report as listed below.
1. Narrowing funding gaps across the SME life cycle
2.Going beyond pure financing to strengthen the SME ecosystem by leveraging FinTech
3. Enhancing data infrastructure
4. Providing greater focus on Islamic finance

Need to address knowledge gaps and talent shortages

However, the study also acknowledges that financing alone cannot address all the issues that SMEs face. Problems such as knowledge constraints, embedding sustainability principles, limited managerial skills and business acumen, lack of financial management skills, talent shortage, access to technology assets, and more, all need equal attention and should be addressed with just as much dedication.

“As the Malaysian economy seeks revitalisation with new growth sectors taking the lead under the NIMP (New Industrial Master Plan 2030) and NETR (National Energy Transition Roadmap), the role of market-based financing in accelerating innovation among SMEs has never been more crucial. It is a fundamental step towards leading the country in breaking away from the middle-income trap and fostering our transformation into becoming a resilient and advanced economy with a focus on sustainability,” said Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Mohd Munir Majid, Chairman of ICMR.

For more information on ICMR’s research and recommendations, you can download the report here.

The Institute for Capital Market Research Malaysia (ICMR) is an initiative by the Securities Commission Malaysia. It is funded by the Capital Market Development Fund (CMDF) as an independent think tank for research related to overall capital market development.

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