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Successful Businesses in Malaysia

April 17, 2014 | Valerie Wong

Malaysia has a rich and colorful culture brought about by the influences of transients and colonists who graced, inhabited and ruled the country. Today, the country is a synthesis of Malay, Indian and Chinese cultures and traditions, thus supporting its position as a multicultural nation characterized by its strong adherence to religious and social harmony.

Malaysia's economy is the third largest in Southeast Asia.  In 2013 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assessed Malaysia's GDP at $10,547, ranked 66th in the world.  Malaysia subsisted on the trade of its raw materials.  The last few decades saw the country propelled into an industrialized country. Today, Malaysian market is a fusion of traditional products and technological innovations that continue to prosper. 

Top 10 Malay Entrepreneurs

In 2012, the unemployment rate in the country was 3.12% as there are numerous job opportunities in agricultural processing, palm oil and rubber processing and manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, light manufacturing, medical technology, logging and timber processing, tin mining and smelting and petroleum production.

The 10 most successful businesses in Malaysia are the ones headed by the following: Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary (MMC, DRB-HICOM, Telecommunications-4G); Dato' Maznah Hamid (Securiforce, a company that deals with the secured transportation of VIPs, jewelry and money);Tan Sri Azman Hashim (Ambank, Group, Amcorp Properties Berhad);Tan Sri Dato' Mustapha Kamal  (Emkay Group, CyberJava);Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir    (Tongkah Holdings Berhad, Pantai Holdings Berhad, Sime Darby Auto Performance Sdn Bhd, Sepang International Circuit Sdn Bhd); Datuk Shahril & Shariman Shamsuddin (Sapura Crest and Kencana Petroleum); Datuk Wan Mohammad Sani Salleh (Sani United Sdn Bhd); Tan Sri Dato Sri Mohd Hassan Marican (Petronas); Tan Sri S.M. Nasimuddin S.M. Amin (Naza Group).

These groups of companies are into banking and finance, oil and gas industry, engineering, transportation, real estate, hospitality industry and more. They supply the product or services for the needs of Malay consumers.

Why Do Business in Malaysia?

Global economic trends point to South East Asia as the next economic hub of the world. Slowly the western seats of economy are giving way to ASEAN countries thanks to the economic boom experienced by the region in the latter part of the 20th century.

The Malaysian government has been pushing for large conglomerates and mega investors in the past. Of late, the government realized the advantages of supporting small to medium scale investors as they are more reliable and dependable in terms of loyalty to the government even as they continue to grow in terms of revenue.

The Malaysian government is definitely pro-business. The laws drafted by the government are pro-foreign investors wherein they can even buy properties in the country under their own name. There are businesses in Malaysia that require a foreign investor to get a local partner or investor and it is imperative that a wise foreign investor get a legitimate partner for the joint venture.

There are plenty of Malaysians who have the money to invest in worthwhile foreign-owned businesses and are more than willing to invest in foreign-owned ventures.

Malaysia's location is strategic. From the country, it is possible to reach more than 60% of the world's population within a 5-hour radius.  Thanks to one of its local carriers, there are very affordable flights in and out of Malaysia from major destinations in Asia and all around the globe (connecting flights).

Malaysia's stance as a multicultural nation naturally translates to a multi language country. Malaysians are well-educated. These points are definitely advantageous for a foreigner hoping to invest in the country.

Business Opportunities in Malaysia

Malaysia, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is aiming to double its economic growth before 2020. There are numerous measures set by the government to encourage foreigners to explore and invest in various startup business opportunities in the country.

Below are trending business opportunities in the country.

Tourism is a profitable business possibility in Malaysia as the number of tourists that come to the country has increased in folds.  If the budget allows, a resort or hotel in Malaysia is very feasible. A small inn or a backpacker hostel is another possibility.  Allied services and products for the hospitality industry are highly recommended for startup ventures.

Travel agencies will thrive well in Malaysia, catering to both local and international travelers. The starting capital is low and the returns are quite profitable.

There is a huge market for fast food restaurants and snack counters in Malaysia. These establishments will not only cater to international tourists, but to the locals as well. The setup could be a fine dining restaurant or even a small yoghurt stand. Franchising a fast food chain is also a possibility.

Microfinance services are in demand in Malaysia.  Startup businesses are mushrooming all over Malaysia that there is a need for an establishment to provide funding. A foreigner with a background in microfinance banking should explore this area for a business opportunity.

Fashion retail or wholesale stores will do well in Malaysia. The thrust of the store should cater to both the local and international market. If a foreign investor is considering opening a manufacturing shop in Malaysia, it is well to remember that local labor is not cheap as even the locals “import” laborers from neighboring countries.

The Malaysian Market is ripe and ready. If you are interested in investing in Malaysia, it is best to get the services of a credible and experienced firm such as Servcorp to orient you on all matters pertaining to establishing a business in Malaysia.