KUANTAN: Two more Mara Digital Malls will open in Melaka and Johor next year, to increase the participation of Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the retail business related to information and communications technology (ICT).
The new malls will be in Sungai Rambai and Larkin.
Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said so far, 109 Bumiputera entrepreneurs had benefited from their business in the four existing Mara Digital Malls in Kuala Lumpur, Shah Alam, Ipoh and Kuantan.
He said the ministry would continue to explore opportunities to create at least one Mara Digital Mall in each state, as ICT-related malls have a wider market.
“The ministry’s long-term goal is to expand Mara Digital to the district level, after successfully opening Mara Digital Malls in all states. However, for the district level, the scale will be smaller, similar to the ones at Mara arcades.
“We do not want the Bumiputera to be left behind in ICT-related business, considering that they are also the biggest buyers of ICT gadgets,” he told a media conference after opening the Kuantan Mara Digital mall at Plaza Gambut here yesterday.
Ismail said the ministry needed cooperation from the state government to assist in identifying buildings that could be developed as a mall.
He gave the example of the mall in Sungai Rambai, Melaka, which was established at the Rural Transformation Centre (RTC).
This was to facilitate the ministry to waive rental payments for six months for entrepreneurs doing business at Mara Digital Mall as way to attract traders and to help them consolidate finances before starting to pay rent, he said.
Ismail added that Mara Digital was well received as the mall in Kuala Lumpur had recorded sales volume of RM28.3 million since its inception in December 2015.
He said buyers should rest easy about the risk of counterfeit products because the ministry’s policies required officials from the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry in the Mara Digital committee to ensure the authenticity of the products.
Ismail said in order to ensure that Bumiputeras have the skills to develop ICT gadgets in the future, institutions under the ministry, such as GiatMara, had embarked on industry-related courses.
“GiatMara is offering short-term smartphone repair courses while Mara Higher Skills Colleges and Universiti Kuala Lumpur offer engineering, computer and multimedia software courses,” he said.