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Four Reasons Why Malaysia Is The Best Place To Initiate Your Startup Outside Of India

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Malaysia, known globally known for many things – a vast variety of food, a diverse multicultural demographic, and popular tourist’s destinations are among some of them. To add on to the list, Malaysia has seen a drastic increase in the rise of startups and startup culture in the recent years. The crescendo of startups in Malaysia has become so prevalent, Kuala Lumpur is mentioned in Forbes as one of the top 10 cities in the world to launch startups.

So, what makes Malaysia a great place for startups? What exactly do budding entrepreneurs and investors look for when choosing a nesting site for their businesses in this little country? Let’s look at four reasons that makes Malaysia the best place to initiate your startup.

A government open to business policies

Image credit: Lamyerda

Entrepreneurs throughout the world often look for stable environments to set up shop. A vital part of what makes a stable business environment is a government that is open to business policies. Although known to be conservative in many aspects, Malaysia’s government is open to business policies. Beginning with the Vision 2020 started by previous Prime Minister, Mahathir Mohammed, Malaysia’s business scene opened to investors both local and international within a few years. The MSC (Multimedia Super Corridor) status coined by the premier allows for special privileges for upcoming businesses for the past decade and a half.

Today, Malaysia has set the scene for business opportunities, providing training and strategical courses for upcoming business prospects. Organizations such as MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre) based in Cyberjaya organize developer trainings and business boot camps for up-and-coming business founders. As a result, startup founders have a sturdy platform to start off with.

This was evident as the country recently saw Jack Ma being appointed as the digital economy advisor to the Malaysian government and said “Malaysia is very business-friendly and much more efficient than I thought” in an article by their local paper.

Image credit: Fintech Singapore

Abundance of business prospects

As early as the 1400s, Malaysia (or Malaya) has been a prized hub for trade and global export-import. Competition to colonize Malaysia was high due to its abundant commercial potential. With centuries of economic boom, Malaysia’s business scene has evolved to become overflow with premium potential. Integrating the world of apps, services, and products in today’s world, consumers and business entrepreneurs look to Malaysia for prospects. This can clearly be seen in the way Malaysians use apps and services.

Image credit: ecommerceIQ

The largest companies in the world, some of which are still in startup phase have made Kuala Lumpur one of their headquarters in the Southeast Asian region. Uber, iProperty, and even Google have HQs situated around this bustling metropolis. In the area of property development and soliciting in particular, Malaysia has seen thriving progress of startups. One property startup that saw its business take root in the past year is Bumbung.

Enthusiastic co-founder of the company, Gadiy Lim, highlights the beauty of building a startup in Malaysia. “Malaysia is the best place for startups because it is cheap to validate ideas and start moving” he states. He further acknowledged the lack of local venture capitalists, but noted that it “makes room for foreign investors to come into play”.

More proof of success is shown with the supply-and-demand statistics in Malaysia. As more Malaysians look to apps and electronic means to online services and products, demand for e-commerce businesses and startups potential increases. Every avenue for potential businesses available in Malaysia – be it transport services, food & beverage, online shopping, or even real estate.

A cultural melting-pot

Image credit: Expatriate Lifestyle

Malaysia has three main races that have lived in harmony since before independence in 1957. Along with a large percentage of other ethnicities and natives, the country has a rich local heritage. This melting pot of cultures creates the perfect medium for expats who are looking to invest time and capital. As a sign of cultural stability, Kuala Lumpur, in particular, caters to a vast multi -racial demographic that, in turn, adds to economic stability. It’s no surprise then that investors and startup founders choose Malaysia as the number one spot to setup their business.

Furthermore, the centrality of Malaysia and how it is situated both geographically and economically in the heart of Southeast Asia, makes it ideal for those who intend to expand their business to the surrounding region. Expats from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines view Malaysia as the perfect location to work and permanently reside.

CEO of iPrice Group, David Chmelař reiterates that the diversity of cultures in Malaysia makes it an attractive location for startups. “This setting allows for easy integration of other cultures to build a fully-international team”, says Chmelař, who leads a diverse team of over 25 nationalities. Most people think of Singapore as the ideal place to start a business. With its saturation, Singapore loses out to Malaysia in terms of market size. Malaysia is also highly desired due to its developed market where one can test and start their business without much complications.

Gen-Y boom

Another reason Malaysia is a highly-sought-after spot for startups is the boom in young talent. Known as the generation that has the highest level of education, Gen-Y and Millennials contribute tremendously to today’s economy. With the increase in Gen-Y and Millennials, there is no shortage of employees.

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

These young, enthusiastic individuals add value to the company by contributing fresh ideas as they push for performance. Malaysia’s younger generation, most of which have had tertiary education (both overseas and locally), come home to begin their working life. And where do they start their career path? In startups of course!

The startup culture in Malaysia has been refined in the past years thanks to these four reasons above. Investors and founders of budding businesses in Malaysia are often rewarded thanks to the amazing environment for growth and profitability.

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Written by Joel Vijay and images compiled by Jeremy Chew from iPrice Group.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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