PETALING JAYA: The boss of popular hypermarket chain Mydin has urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to revive the entrepreneur and co-operative development ministry (MECD) to help Bumiputeras following the prime minister’s remark that many traders at a centre in Kedah were selling the same items.
Ameer Ali Mydin, the chain’s managing director, told FMT that many older Bumiputera traders struggled to be more creative in finding their niche. Younger Bumiputera entrepreneurs, on the other hand, were more tech-savvy and well versed in branding, he said.
“When it comes to business, you must find your niche, whether you’re a small-time trader or a big business operator.
“If you don’t have a niche, you lose your competitive edge and your market shrinks.”
Even at Mydin, he said, they had to work to be different from their competitors.
“For us, our niche is that we’re 100% halal, and we give space to local small and medium enterprises to sell their products.”
He said the MECD, which was established during Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s first stint as prime minister, was responsible for initiatives like the One District One Industry, which helped Bumiputera entrepreneurs concentrate on developing a niche and creating volume to attract bigger markets.
The ministry was abolished in 2009.
Ameer said the issue with places like Pekan Rabu, which Mahathir had visited over the weekend, was that traders were given the space to sell their goods but no one was in charge of the tenancy mix, unlike in shopping malls.
In shopping malls and hypermarkets, he said, operators would not allow too many shops to sell the same items.
Some exceptions to this were “hubs” like Jalan Masjid India, where many gold shops are located despite the large size of the market and gold’s status as a premium item, he added.
Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu (MTEM) senior fellow Azlan Awang meanwhile pointed out a lack of solidarity and camaraderie among Bumiputera traders in planning and coordinating their businesses.
“This is important in dealing with local authorities and premise owners, for bulk buying, pushing for policies beneficial to them and sharing knowledge among themselves,” he said.
“Among Bumiputera traders, there is lack of guilds and associations as platforms to undertake this.”
He added that Bumiputera traders needed to overcome this lack of “social capital”.