Kuala Lumpur, 13 April 2023 – As part of Hong Leong Bank ("HLB" or the "Bank") ongoing Sustainable Roundtable series, the Bank has organised an exclusive session with the Small and Medium Enterprises Association ("SAMENTA") themed "Sustainability Meets Strategy: Building Competitiveness with Green Supply Chain”. The Sustainability Roundtable is part of the Bank’s continuous efforts to help SMEs gain knowledge to future-proof their businesses while integrating ESG considerations into their operations.
Green supply chains are production operations that incorporate ESG factors into the supply chain as a means to minimise its environmental impact, while maximising social and economic benefits. It also involves ethical and social considerations, such as fair labour practices, social responsibilities, and sustainable procurement methods. While most SMEs understand the importance and benefits of sustainable supply chains, they often cite challenges such as limited resources, lack of awareness, regulatory barriers, limited expertise, and cost as barriers for implementation.
According to Kevin Ng, Head of SME Banking at HLB, “We recognise that businesses are in different stages of transition and we embrace an inclusionary approach to support our customers in their transition plans and milestones so as to facilitate their adoption of sustainable practices. As an example, before the onset of the pandemic, the Bank advocated for SMEs to prioritise digitalisation as a vital business strategy for SMEs seeking to bolster their resilience and enhance their operational efficiencies. Today, with climate change being the most pressing issue, there has been a marked shift towards emphasising sustainability as a top priority, with an increasing focus on addressing climate change concerns and integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into every aspect of business operations, including supply chains.”
“We understand the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest ESG developments and trends. To ensure that we provide the best possible service to our customers and stakeholders, we prioritise continuous engagement with them. Through events such as the Hong Leong Bank Sustainability Roundtable, we gather subject matter experts to share their knowledge and best practices, and collaborate to develop actionable plans. Our goal is to help SMEs stay ahead of the curve and make informed decisions that will benefit not just their businesses but also contribute to the sustainability agenda of the country,” added Ng.
Datuk William Ng, Chairman of SAMENTA echoed that continuous engagements with all stakeholders in the supply chain will go a long way in helping SMEs transform their operations.
“ESG transformation takes time, and we view it as an ongoing journey for our business operations. As SMEs constitute the backbone of the Malaysian economy, accounting for 97.2% of all business establishments and generating 38.2% of the GDP in 2022, it is vital for the overall sustainability of Malaysia that we swiftly adopt green practices and actively participate in eco-friendly initiatives. While implementing sustainable supply chain practices can be challenging for SMEs, we believe that engagements and building a network of support with stakeholders in the supply chain can help SMEs learn and exchange knowledge, expertise, and resources to implement sustainable practices more effectively and cost-efficiently.
“Additionally, SMEs can take advantage of available resources, such as government incentives, certification schemes, and training programs, to support the implementation of sustainable practices in their supply chains. It is also important to stay informed of regulatory changes and best practices in sustainable supply chain management.”
The Sustainability Roundtable featured two panel sessions – ‘Green Supply Chains: Key Trends for 2023’ hosted by Tan Zhai Yun (Nat), Editor of ESG at The Edge Malaysia, and ‘Embracing Sustainability: How to Do It Right?’, hosted by Vernon Foo, Chairman of Sustainability and Circular Economy from SAMENTA respectively.
The panel sessions featured notable speakers and experts namely:
● Sikh Shamsul Ibrahim bin Sikh Abdul Majid, Senior Executive Director of Investment Policy Advocacy from MIDA
● Dr. Meenachi Muniandy, Senior Director at MITI
● S. Jai Shankar, Sustainability Lead and Director of Oil & Gas, Chemical and Energy section at MATRADE
● Roberto Benetello, Board Director of BCSD Malaysia and CEO of Malaysian Recycling Alliance (“MAREA”)
● Margie Ong, CEO of Thoughts in Gear
● Soon Hun Yang, CEO and Co-Founder of Eco-Ideals Consulting
● Koh Keng Sen, Renewable Energy Specialist at Hong Leong Bank
The discussions highlighted expert insights regarding changing trends in regulation, finance and market demand on green supply chains, how key manufacturers can influence suppliers and promote green supply chains, as well as risks and opportunities for Malaysian SMEs. Additionally, the panel session also looked at the challenges faced by SMEs in embracing sustainability, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions tracking and monitoring alongside sharing best practices in implementing sustainability transition plans.