UOB Malaysia has launched the Jom Transform – Sustainability Accelerator Program (JT-SAP), which aims to empower Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with foundational knowledge and know-how to adopt sustainable practices and accelerate their transition to a low carbon economy.

UOB Malaysia said in a statement on Wednesday that the inaugural JT-SAP brings together over 150 SMEs and industry associations for a three-day workshop.

Participants will acquire knowledge on international case studies, key trends, solutions and insights on sustainability to help them future-proof their businesses and improve their competitiveness.

Cited the UOB Business Outlook Study 2023, UOB Malaysia said 84 percent of businesses in Malaysia consider sustainability to be important, but only 37 percent have started implementing sustainability practices within their organisations.

It said the challenges to implementing environment, social and governance (ESG) practices in the survey include insufficient knowledge, upfront costs and lack of support.

“As SMEs form about 98 per cent of businesses in the country, it is important for them to join the sustainability journey for Malaysia to achieve its net zero ambitions,” UOB Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Ng Wei Wei said.

According to her, the Jom Transform Sustainability Accelerator Program is designed to equip SMEs with the right knowledge and tools to facilitate their transition,

“By adopting green practices, SMEs will be able to better manage their business risks and leverage sustainability opportunities to carve out a competitive edge for themselves,” she added.

It is noted that the JT-SAP leverages a comprehensive 3E (Evaluate, Engage, and Execute) Framework to enable businesses to accelerate their sustainability journey in a pragmatic manner.

The program is delivered in collaboration with like-minded partners, including the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (MGTC), Capital Markets Malaysia (CMM), PricewaterhouseCoopers Malaysia (PwC), Green Real Estate (GreenRE), and Thoughts In Gear (TIG).

Together with the JT-SAP, UOB Malaysia also rolled out the UOB Sustainability Compass to help local SMEs overcome their inertia and kick-start their sustainability journey.

First launched in Singapore last year, the UOB Sustainability Compass takes “simplifying sustainable financing” a step further by providing businesses with customised reports based on their sectors and sustainability readiness.

Developed with PwC, the UOB Sustainability Compass report guides SMEs through a roadmap that identifies the different phases of becoming sustainable.

They are educated on the regulations, standards, and certifications that affect their sectors and are recommended sustainable financing solutions to kick-start their sustainability initiatives.

According to the statement, during the JT-SAP workshop, participating SMEs have the opportunity to evaluate their sustainability maturity stages and receive personalized UOB Sustainability Compass reports which outline actionable steps and data points to further develop concrete ESG plans.

“ESG compliance has become increasingly enforced by consumers, regulators and global companies throughout their supply chains. While many SMEs understand the importance of pivoting their practices to reduce their carbon emissions, they require more assistance to kick-start their green journey,

“With the UOB Sustainability Compass, the bank hopes to value-add by hand-holding these businesses to overcome their initial barriers,” said Beh Wee Khee, Managing Director and Country Head of Commercial Banking, UOB Malaysia.

UOB Malaysia is a subsidiary of Singapore-based UOB, a bank in Asia with a global network of around 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America.

With over seven decades of presence in Malaysia, UOB Malaysia operates 55 branches in the country, offering both conventional and Islamic banking services to its customers.

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