28. Malaysia

Over the years, there have been various initiatives implemented to enhance the MSME financing ecosystem in Malaysia. Access to finance is a critical enabler for MSMEs to start operations, invest and grow, withstand shocks, transition to the sustainable and digital economy and participate in the supply chains. In 2022, total financing outstanding and approvals to support MSME relief and recovery exceeded that of 2021. MSME outstanding loans stood at RM 355 billion in 2022 compared to RM 320 billion in 2021. While the share of MSME lending in proportion to business loans has risen to reach 48% in 2022 from 45% in 2021. Banking institutions remain the main source of financing for MSMEs, providing more than 90% of total financing.

The financing ecosystem for MSMEs has been strengthened considerably over the years and continued to be enhanced amid the pandemic. The existence of a stronger and more effective ecosystem which played a pivotal role in providing critical financial support to MSMEs in distress was hugely instrumental in facilitating the recovery of the Malaysian MSME during these uncertain times.

While alternatives to traditional debt finance are particularly important for start-ups, high-growth and innovative MSMEs, the development of alternative financing techniques may be relevant to the broader population of MSMEs. Capital gaps exist also for firms seeking to implement important transitions in their activities, such as ownership and control changes, as well as for MSMEs seeking to leverage and improve their capital structures. Excessive reliance on debt financing compared to equity will lead to higher cost, as loans to indebted firms tend to have higher interest rates and increase the risk of financial distress and bankruptcy. Thus, the Government’s decision to allocate more funds into alternative financing from the capital market and innovative platforms such as equity crowdfunding (ECF), peer-to-peer (P2P), private equity and venture capital will further support the financial needs and open opportunities for businesses, particularly to MSMEs. Alternative fundraising avenues via ECF and P2P financing rose in 2022 and continued to support the funding needs of MSMEs with a total of 7,218 MSMEs enabled to raise more than RM 4.4 billion.

Malaysia’s financial system is the outcome of continuous efforts and reforms over decades, core building blocks were established and have placed Malaysia’s financial sector on a stronger footing, not only to withstand the shocks of the pandemic and natural disaster, but also to become a source of strength to cushion the impact to the economy which is highlighted in the Financial Sector Blueprint 2022 - 2026 and one of the key initiatives is the enhancements to the financing ecosystem for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). As Malaysia continue to build on these foundations, it is crucial that the Malaysian financial system keeps pace with emerging developments.

Looking ahead, various megatrends are expected to shape the future economic and financial landscape. The pandemic has accelerated certain developments – accentuating some pre-existing vulnerabilities while also giving rise to opportunities for reforms that are long overdue.

In early 2022, the global economy was heavily affected by new COVID-19 variants which resulted in a swift government response . Countries had to employ strong measures to curb the spread of the disease, which in turn weighed on economic activity. However, by the first half of 2022, more effective pandemic management enabled some economies to lift restrictions and reopen international borders. This led to improved labour market conditions and a rebound in economic activity and demand.

Notwithstanding these positive developments, the global recovery was hampered by several other factors during the year. These included rising global commodity cost pressures, the international conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and strict COVID-19 containment measures in China. In particular, rising inflationary pressures emerged as a significant concern for many economies due to increased costs and stronger demand following economic reopening.

Even in the face of global challenges, Malaysia’s economy continued to post a strong recovery. Domestic GDP grew by 8.7% in 2022 (compared to 3.1% in 2021). As COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, economic activities resumed, and improved labour market conditions and investment activities, further supported domestic growth. The reopening of international borders helped revive tourism activity. Continued policy support, such as the minimum wage increase and cash transfers, provided an additional lift to the economy.

While the global economy recovered at a slow pace, exports activity remained resilient during the year. The strong demand for electrical and electronic (E&E) products and commodities contributed to export growth. Despite tighter global financial conditions and higher volatility in the foreign exchange markets, Malaysia’s strong external position and sound financial institutions ensured continued smooth financial intermediation to support the economy.

Overall, Malaysia’s economic recovery in 2022 was largely driven by a stronger domestic demand as economic activity normalised. However, the pace of recovery varied across different economic sectors. While economic activity in export-oriented industries thrived, some sectors such as leisure-related services, remained below pre-pandemic levels. This was mostly due to tourist arrivals recovering at a slow pace during the year.

The crucial role of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the economic growth of Malaysia is undisputed considering that they make up 97.4% of business establishments, which accounted for 1,173,601 business establishments. The majority of MSMEs operate in the services sector (84.7%), followed by construction (7.9%), manufacturing (5.6%), agriculture (1.4%), and the remaining 0.4% are found in the mining and quarrying sector.

MSMEs' GDP recorded a growth of 11.6% in 2022, surpassing the overall national GDP growth of 8.7%. This indicates the growing significance of MSMEs in driving economic expansion. The contribution of MSMEs to the GDP also increased to 38.4%, while the value-added amounted to RM 580.4 billion, marking a substantial increase from RM 520.0 billion in 2021. The Services and Manufacturing sectors uphold their position as the main contributors to MSMEs' GDP, accounting for a share of 84.6%. Meanwhile, the Services Sector rebounded to 16.4%, supported by better performance in the Wholesale, Retail Trade, Food and Beverages, Accommodation, Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Business Services Sub-Sectors.

The MSMEs’ exports totalled RM 144.5 billion in 2022, expanded to 16.3%, driven by Manufacturing sector with 19.5% as well as the Services sector which rebounded to 5.7%. Exports of MSMEs represented 10.5% of total exports in 2022. MSMEs’ exports in the Services sector increased to RM 27.7 billion, supported by the main subsectors including Other Business Services, Transportation and Telecommunications, Computer and Information Services.

The contribution of MSMEs' employment to Malaysia's employment in 2022 was 48.2% (2021: 47.8%). The number of MSMEs' employment continued to record a larger year-on-year increase with a growth of 3.8%, registering a total of 7.59 million employees. The participation of MSMEs' employment in the Services sector expanded over 2022, surpassing more than half of total employment share in this sector with 50.1%, it closed the year 2022 with a growth of 5.3% employing 4.87 million people.

MSMEs’ labour productivity as measured by value added per employment grew by 7.5%, recording a value of RM 76 433 per person, surpassing the pre-pandemic value in 2019 of RM 75 625 per person. The highest growth of MSMEs’ labour productivity was recorded in the Services sector, followed by Mining & Quarrying, Construction and Manufacturing Sectors.

Financial institutions have been bearing a high amount of MSME outstanding loans over the last decade, reflecting steady support to MSMEs. Their loans have more than doubled from the RM 141 billion in 2010 to RM 355 billion in 2022 (2021: RM 320 billion) . The share of MSME lending in proportion to business loans has risen from 38.0% in 2010 to 48.0% in 2022 (2021: 45.0%), which represents almost half of the total outstanding loans extended to businesses compared to below 45% pre-pandemic.

2022 registered a continuing momentum in financing approvals for MSMEs with more than RM 154 billion in financing approved (compared to RM 72 billion in 2021). The high approval rate was driven by investment-related financing in tandem with anticipated demand, an indication of a deeper business recovery amid the resumption of investment plans and improved business sentiments.

Amid a landscape of persistent high-cost pressures, approvals for financing and disbursements for working capital purposes also outpaced pre-pandemic levels, with total disbursements rising by 26.7% in 2022 to RM 505 billion compared with RM 399 billion in 2021.

Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) continued to play a catalytic role in providing access to financial products and services to MSMEs who encounter difficulty in obtaining financing from banks. MSME financing by DFIs for the year totalled RM 5.6 billion (2021: 4.4 billion), a robust growth of 27.2%. Of the nearly 31 000 MSMEs that received DFI financing, the majority (67.0%) were microenterprises with financing sizes of less than RM 50 000.

In line with efforts to enable an inclusive multi-layered capital market, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) continues to look towards more diversified fundraising avenues for businesses, including expanding alternative fundraising platforms for MSMEs and mid-tier companies (MTCs) in particular. Venture capital and Private equity corporations also registered a slight increase compared to 2021.

The total number of registered corporations stood at 129 as of 31 December 2022. The venture capital (VC) segment accounted for 109 registered corporations (venture capital management corporation (VCMC) and venture capital corporation (VCC), while the private equity (PE) segment consisted of 20 registered corporations (private equity management corporation (PEMC) and private equity corporation (PEC). As of the end of 2022, the number of professionals employed by the industry with at least 4 years of experience stood at 229.

Total committed funds in the industry as of the end of 2022 stood at RM 10.71 billion (2021: RM 9.64 billion) and RM 5.37 billion (2021: RM 5.18 billion) for PE and VC respectively, with a combined total of RM 16.08 billion (2021: RM 14.83 billion). For PE, commitments are sourced largely from corporate investors (33.40%), individuals and family offices (16.97%), and financial institutions (12.78%).

For VC, government agencies and investment companies (36.01%), sovereign wealth funds (27.27%) and corporate investors (22.68%) make up the top 3 sources of funding.

Since inception, total funds raised via equity crowdfunding (ECF) stood at RM 560.34 million via 330 campaigns. Shariah-compliant campaigns1 contributed to 3% of the total funds raised.

Total funds raised in 2022 decreased to RM 140.38 million from RM 220.72 million in 2021. Similarly, total successful campaigns decreased from 104 in 2021 to 67 in 2022. Nevertheless, campaign sizes continued to be of larger fundraising amounts, with 89% of campaigns raising above RM 500,000. In particular, there was an increase in larger campaign sizes, with 21% of campaigns raising above RM 3 million (2021: 17%) on equity crowdfunding platforms. The highest amount of funds raised in 2022 by a single fundraising campaign stood at RM 17 million.

In terms of the sectors served, professional, scientific and technical activities continued to receive the most funds in 2022, with total funds raised amounting to RM 41.37 million in 2022. In particular, the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector grew exponentially, from RM 753 750 in 2021 to RM 19.32 million in 2022.

Since its inception, the total funds raised via P2P financing stood at RM 3.87 billion via 54,791 campaigns with 9% of the total funds raised were via Shariah-compliant campaigns. In addition, total funds raised in 2022 increased to RM 1.58 billion from RM 1.14 billion in 2021. Similarly, total campaigns in 2022 increased by 71%, from 14,301 in 2021 to 24,455 in 2022.

Campaign sizes in 2022 continued to be of smaller fundraising amounts, with 70% of campaigns raising funds at RM 50 000 and below. In terms of the sectors served, wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles continued to receive the most funds in 2022, with total funds raised amounting to RM 927.72 million.

Bank Negara Malaysia (the Central Bank of Malaysia) continued to make steady progress in its efforts to address climate-related risks and strengthen the financial sector’s climate resilience. Scaling up financing and protection support needed by businesses to reduce their carbon footprint has also received attention.

Over the four years of its climate journey, Bank Negara Malaysia has worked to gradually establish the key pillars of climate resilience within the financial sector. These include a framework for classifying assets based on alignment to climate outcomes, regulatory and supervisory expectations on managing climate risks, climate-related disclosure requirements and infrastructure to meet critical data needs. These pillars have helped accelerate efforts by financial institutions to better fulfil their role in spurring an orderly and just transition to a greener economy.

Progress and Outcomes on Climate Initiatives in 2022:

  1. 1. Financial Regulation and Supervision: Building an enabler regulatory landscape and enhancing climate resilience in the financial sector.

  • Engaged with financial institutions to improve data integrity following the first Climate Change Principles-based Taxonomy (CCPT) reporting submission in July 2022.

  1. 2. Capacity Building: Increasing internal competence

  • Climate Risks and Sustainable Finance Training Programme to staff across multiple sectors in collaboration with SOAS University of London.

  1. 3. Macroeconomic & Monetary Policy: Enhancing macroeconomic surveillance and forecasting

  • Development of country-level modelling tools to support holistic assessments of the impact of climate risk on the economy, including under different macroeconomic policy assumptions.

  1. 4. Investment: Factoring sustainability in investments

  • Integrating ESG factors into the portfolio construction process by optimising portfolio allocation in terms of risk-adjusted returns based on ESG ratings.

  • Align portfolio allocation with key ESG metrics such as improvements in ESG and environmental ratings and Paris-aligned greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets.

  1. 5. Financial Development: Green finance and investment

  • Focused outreach to enhance micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) awareness and knowledge on how to access support to help with the transition to sustainable and greener practices.

  • Launched the Greening Value Chain (GVC) Programme to assist MSMEs that are part of global supply chains to green their operations.

  1. 6. Corporate Sustainability: Reducing the Bank’s carbon footprint

  • Minimised GHG emissions from currency operations by promoting digital payments, recirculating fit banknotes and prioritising recycling practices.

The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has successfully implemented several initiatives in promoting the ECF and P2P financing market , aimed to serve the needs of a wider range of businesses and spur higher market growth. The efforts implemented included :

1. Widening access to Shariah-compliant financing in ECF and P2P financing

ECF and P2P financing have continued to broaden access to financing for MSMEs. Shariah-compliant offerings on these platforms have also gained traction, with a total of RM 368.13 million funds raised as of 31 December 2022. To further harness the potential of ECF and P2P financing platforms, the SC opened applications for registration of new ECF and P2P financing operators with Shariah-based solutions and value-propositions in 2022. This measure is expected to catalyse innovation in Shariah-compliant offerings to further facilitate access to funding needs of MSMEs through alternative fundraising digital platforms and promote greater recovery. It also aims to foster the growth of MSMEs in the halal economy while allowing greater access to investments for all capital market participants.

The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) has also seen traction In the ECF and P2P financing offerings in the Agriculture Sector – a sector of strategic importance to the local economy. Since the inception of the SC, ECF and P2P financing have fundraised over RM 430 million, benefitting more than 400 agri-related MSMEs across the entire value chain: upstream, midstream and downstream.

2. Catalysing growth in the underserved segments: SCxSC GROW

In October 2022, the SCxSC GROW, a new collaborative programme, was launched under the SC’s fintech flagship initiative Synergistic Collaboration by the SC (SCxSC). The SCxSC GROW embodies a collaborative effort with partners in the fintech ecosystem to harness the potential of alternative fundraising digital platforms to meet the needs of underserved players in strategic sectors. The first edition of the SCxSC GROW initiative focused on agriculture, a sector which remains at the forefront of Malaysia’s growth priorities and is one of the backbone sectors in Malaysia’s economic development. The inaugural launch of SCxSC GROW was supported by relevant ministries, agencies and key players in the agriculture ecosystem during a one-day workshop with the theme ‘Unlocking Alternative Financing Potential for Agriculture’. The workshop explored the potential roles of alternative financing avenues that may contribute towards addressing some of the financial gaps that exist in the agriculture sector. It also garnered greater awareness on ECF and P2P financing and encouraged better co-ordination to move the agriculture sector forward and strengthen the country’s food security. Around 40 representatives, including senior officials from relevant ministries, agencies and key players attended the workshop. They include the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFS), Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) and Agrobank.

3. Helping MSMEs to regain footing in the economic recovery via MyCIF

MyCIF is an initiative set up by the Malaysian government to co-invest in MSMEs and social enterprises alongside private investors via ECF and P2P financing platforms. Since 2019, a total of RM 230 million has been channelled to the MyCIF which was set up as part of Budget 2019. As at 31 December 2022, MyCIF has successfully co-invested over RM 638 million in approximately 35,000 ECF and P2P financing campaigns, benefitting 3,635 MSMEs. The fund had co-invested alongside more than RM 2.56 billion from private investors. In 2022, MyCIF focused on the agriculture sector, an industry identified to be of strategic importance to the local economic recovery.

Furthermore, the launch of Malaysia Co-Investment Fund (MyCIF) special co-investment ratio of 1:2 in 2022, has encouraged more private investments into the agricultural sector via alternative financing platforms.


Central Bank of Malaysia, Annual Report 2022


Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), Annual Report 2022


Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Berhad (CGC), Annual Report 2022


Financial Sector Blueprint 2022-2026

Financial Sector Blueprint 2022-2026 - Bank Negara Malaysia (bnm.gov.my)


← 1. Note: Shariah-compliant securities are securities of a public-listed company which have been classified as Shariah permissible for investment, based on the company’s compliance with Shariah principles in terms of its primary business and investment activities as well as financial position. In classifying these securities, a two-tier quantitative approach was adopted which applies the business activity benchmarks and financial ratio benchmarks, in determining the Shariah status of the securities.

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