Cradle Fund aims to add spice to digital economy

Cradle Fund CEO Rafiza Ghazali says many industries are trying hard to adjust to new norms of doing business.

KUALA LUMPUR: When Rafiza Ghazali received a call confirming her appointment as Cradle Fund CEO in April, she knew she had a herculean task ahead of her because of the coronavirus crisis.

But she also knew Malaysia needed to spice up its digital economy for she had noted that it had been accelerated “like never before” since the movement control order (MCO) came into force.

She noted too that many industries were trying hard to adjust to new norms of doing business.

Cradle was established under the finance ministry in 2003 with the mandate to influence the early-stage startup of tech companies.

Rafiza, who officially clocked in at her office on June 1, decided that Cradle should now focus on innovative technology startups and encourage them to provide solutions to contemporary business challenges.

She told FMT she believed companies would have to look at areas that were delaying delivery of services and causing failures in cutting costs and attracting customers.

She said retailers and service providers needed to add excitement at their physical and online shops by introducing virtual reality experiences.

For example, she said, a tailor should be able to take the measurements of a client from a picture shot at his store or uploaded to his website.

She expects digital competition to keep increasing in intensity and said startups would have to look into ways of handling this.

A suggestion she gave was for them to facilitate local companies’ collaboration with platforms such as Ali Baba and Zalora because this might be better than developing separate websites.

“Look at ways to complement these big companies,” she said.

She also spoke of the digital economy as being a boon to the agriculture sector, saying it enabled both crop and livestock farmers to free themselves of middlemen.

“They should have an online inventory system to inform retailers when their products are ready for collection or how old their livestock is,” she added.

Rafiza also had a suggestion for hotels, saying they should find ways to make it seamless for guests to register without compromising on their SOP.

Online registration of certain details could cut time taken at the counter by half, she said.

As for fears of university facilities being abandoned as more students study online, she said the spaces could be used for training, exhibitions and retreats.

She encouraged startups to seek Cradle’s advice, saying it provides support and networking even for those failing to get grants from it.

Cradle’s success stories include MyTeksi, Dropee, Foodadvisor and Babydash as well as online hunting of hostels and express bus booking services.

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