03 November 2023

Alliance Bank Collaborates with Leading Academic Institutions on Industry-based Sectoral Playbooks to Help SMEs

Press Release

Kuala Lumpur, 3 November 2023 - Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad (“Alliance Bank” or the “Bank”) is collaborating with leading higher learning institutions, Monash University Malaysia and the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (“INCEIF University”) to carry out joint research and thought-leadership events to extract industry-based insights for the development of sectoral playbooks to help small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) fast track their environment, social and governance (“ESG”) adoption based on best practices of industry leaders.

The collaboration will help drive research and deep dive into industry-specific ESG challenges, needs and opportunities in order to fill the knowledge gap where there are too many generic information and guidelines or frameworks that do not cater to the smaller players in the market. Working closely with Monash University Malaysia and INCEIF University, Alliance Bank aims to use the insights from the research to develop pragmatic solutions to help Malaysian businesses adopt ESG whether they are operating in a conventional or Islamic marketplace.

“Throughout our long journey in helping SMEs grow, we understand that it comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities which differs from sector to sector. As we aim to be our customers’ bank for life, it is important to continuously learn and understand their unique perspectives in order to develop relevant banking and non-banking solutions to help them meet their specific challenges so they can continue growing. We believe that businesses that embed ESG practices stand to gain a competitive edge that positions them to capture more growth opportunities. Our new partnerships with Monash University and INCEIF University brings together complementary expertise and resources that will help drive the development of the tools and programmes for businesses to speed up their learning curve and adoption of sustainable practices,” said the Bank’s Group Chief Executive Officer Mr. Kellee Kam.

“Monash University Malaysia is proud to be a part of this significant initiative. Sustainability is not just a buzzword. It’s an imperative for businesses in today’s world. As a university, we recognise the critical role we play in driving positive change in society. The challenges and opportunities SMEs face on their journey towards sustainability are unique, and this collaboration with Alliance Bank has allowed us to delve deep into those intricacies. Our aim is to fill the knowledge gap and provide tailored solutions that address industry-specific needs. We believe that knowledge sharing, research and collaboration with key industry players are vital steps towards building a more sustainable and competitive future for these businesses,” stated Professor Adeeba Kamarulzaman, President and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Monash University Malaysia.

“INCEIF University is privileged to ink this partnership with Alliance Bank in propelling the ESG development among SMEs, the backbone of the Malaysian economy. Despite contributing more than 35% of the GDP, many SMEs, particularly micro-SMEs remain financially underserved. Supporting ESG transitions among these segments of the economy would ensure their competitiveness, hence promoting greater financial inclusion, the key thrust of Value-Based Intermediation. Being the Islamic finance education leader, INCEIF is committed to building capacity for the industry to improve from merely taking action to making an impact towards meaningful financial inclusion. Through our academic programmes and applied research, INCEIF University continues to investigate workable initiatives to incorporate Islamic finance and Islamic social finance as a solution to address socio-economic problems, and execute workable projects to address challenges among the vulnerable groups in society, as financial and societal uncertainties remain a global concern,” echoed Professor Dato’ Dr. Mohd Azmi Omar, President and Chief Executive Officer of INCEIF University.

The new partnerships were marked with the signing of two separate Memorandum of Understandings (“MoU”) during the recent SME ESG Symposium 2023 that was held at Monash University. The symposium, themed ’Enabling Collaborative Ecosystems for SME ESG Transition’ brought together businesses who are ESG adoption pioneers within their sectors who shed light on the ESG landscape and best practices specific to their industries. The event was co-organised by Alliance Bank, Monash University and the United Nations Global Compact Malaysia & Brunei (“UNGCMYB”).

From the 50 businesses that took part in the symposium, many shared that they have seen positive growth as they successfully enter new markets and enjoy cost-savings, experience greater brand value as well as position themselves as leaders of their respective industries. Many businesses across varying sectors still continue to struggle to find the balance between profitability and sustainability while it was discovered that the ESG maturity for businesses differed greatly from sector to sector largely due to push factors originating from the industry and compliance needs and requirements.

The findings will contribute to the next phase of Alliance Bank and its partners’ journey in guiding and enabling businesses navigate their ESG adoption roadmap by providing them relevant tools, training and advisory to successfully meet their challenges in a dynamic marketplace. Sectoral playbooks will be developed in a thematic series that helps Malaysian businesses accelerate adoption of ESG.

Earlier this year, Alliance Bank launched its inaugural annual ESG survey report, “ESG Insights from Malaysian SMEs: Building A Better Future Together” which was jointly commissioned with UNGCMYB and SME Corporation Malaysia. The findings from the report helped guide the Bank’s development of financing and non-financing solutions to form a holistic ecosystem to enable SMEs to learn, diagnose, create roadmaps and adopt ESG practices. These solutions include the Alliance Bank Sustainability Assistance Programme (“SAP”), credit guarantee schemes via partnerships with Credit Guarantee Corporation (“CGC”) and Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Berhad (“SJPP”) as well as supply chain ESG improvement programmes with solutioning through Bursa’s Centralised Sustainability Intelligence (“CSI”) Platform.

For more information on Alliance Bank’s sustainability purpose, please visit https://www.alliancebank.com.my/About-Us/Sustainability/Sustainability-Overview.

Keynote speaker of the “SME ESG Symposium 2023” National SDG Centre Director Mr. Asfaazam Kasbani (centre) along with (from right) UN Global Compact Malaysia & Brunei Executive Director Mr. Faroze Nadar, Alliance Bank Malaysia Berhad Group Chief Executive Officer Mr. Kellee Kam, Monash University Malaysia President and Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Monash University Malaysia School of Business Head Professor Nafis Alam, INCEIF University Research Deputy President Professor Ashraf Md Hashim and Monash University Malaysia Deputy Head of School (Engagement & Impact) Professor Mohan Avvari taking a commemorative photo after the MoU signing ceremonies.