Govt to promote social enterprises, says Ewon Benedick

KOTA KINABALU: Social enterprises are among the sectors the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Ministry will focus, besides digital economy and agro-tourism.

Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick said the social enterprise segment in this country has a huge potential as a stable career move which indirectly impacts the nation’s economic development.

“This is a new field that will gain major attention of the ministry including agencies under (the ministry). In fact, RM20mil has been proposed in the Budget for social enterprises development under SME Bank next year,” he said on Friday (Dec 9).

Ewon said this during his visit to a social enterprise called MJ in Penampang.

On the local front, the Penampang Member of Parliament also said he was pleased that the social enterprise segment has grown in this district as well as across the state.

“I am also aware that the state government is currently developing a blueprint for social enterprises development, and I would like our ministry to assist in preparing this blueprint at the state level,” he added.

According to the ministry’s statistics, there are 491 social entrepreneurs registered across Malaysia and 26 of them are from Sabah.

During the visit, MJ owner Mary Jim briefed the minister about the rural community involvement in creating over 100 end products that are being showcased in her shop.

In a separate work visit to Kota Belud district later, Ewon who is Kadamaian assemblyman, assured the public that he had no problems in balancing his time as a minister, MP and assemblyman.

Ewon, who was appointed the ministerial post earlier this month and won the Penampang parliamentary seat back in the November general election, said he travels to Putrajaya for his ministerial duties and back to Sabah weekly to perform his mandate as an elected representative.

“A lot has asked me about this, how I will divide time. To me, it depends on our determination, and we will find the way.

“I have shared with the leadership of the ministry and its agencies about my aspirations as a minister, MP and assemblyman and they understood it,” he said, adding that he also plans to visit other states and districts in his capacity as minister.

During the Kota Belud visit, Ewon also said that he wants to see the Kadamaian rural entrepreneur complex in Taginambur, which he had initiated previously, be continued by the government.

He said the complex was under construction while he was holding the post of state Rural Development Minister from 2018 to 2020.

During the two years, allocations had been channelled to prepare the site and erect two buildings, but the remainder four buildings and a block of stalls were not completed when he was no longer in the government after that period.

In relation to that Ewon said as the minister in charge of hawkers’ affairs, he would push for their interests starting in his own constituencies of Kadamaian and Penampang, to ensure facilities and support programmes are available for stall operators.

“The Hawkers’ Day celebration this Dec 22 will take place in Putrajaya as it has been earlier planned by the ministry.

“But next year, I would like to have this celebration in Kadamaian and thus facilities here must be improved,” he added.