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By working together with Farm Direct Shop (FDS), a nearby social enterprise, Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (Bank Islam or the Bank) is increasing access to its iTEKAD microfinancing initiative for local farmers and business owners. FDS offers a platform that makes it easier for customers to buy directly from producers by presenting their goods and services and advertising them through the WhatsApp messaging app and its outlet.

Launched in May 2020 in Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur, iTEKAD is designed to mobilise  social finance instruments such as zakat (tithe), sadaqah (alms or donation), waqf  (endowment) and social investment fund by offering seed capital with an affordable  microfinancing arrangement to eligible applicants. The programme aims to empower  eligible microentrepreneurs, including farmers, to achieve financial resilience, generate  continuous income and create a sustainable value chain that would benefit the  community.

Mohd Zikri Mohd Shairy, Bank Islam Assistant General Manager, Group Financial Inclusion  Division, said, “Farmers are crucial to the welfare of communities, especially in rural areas  where agriculture is a significant source of income. It helps reduce poverty by preventing  hunger and generating economic activity. However, the agricultural sector, which is  essential for food security, has been impacted by climate change, population growth,  changing dietary preferences, global pandemics, and conflicts. In response, farmers  must find ways to maximize their harvest and improve efficiency through better working  methods and effective tools.”

He adds, “Bank Islam is helping to advance the food value chain by offering  opportunities for smallholder agriculture and small business owners to enhance their skills  and capabilities through our comprehensive iTEKAD microfinancing program. With the  support of FDS, we can engage directly with more than 400 suppliers under the  mentorship of the platform.”

In addition to working capital funding, iTEKAD involves collaborations with selected  implementation partners such as State Islamic Religious Councils, government agencies,  social enterprises, and non-government organisations. Through this strategic partnership,  recipients will receive structured entrepreneurship and financial management training to  ensure a more holistic understanding, skills, and knowledge in managing their venture  efficiently and viably.

Bank Islam has two iTEKAD programmes – iTEKAD BangKIT and iTEKAD Maju – available  nationwide to underbanked and B40-owned businesses. Since its launch, the Bank has  empowered 675 microentrepreneurs by disbursing more than RM11.7 million in financial  support under the iTEKAD.

“By working together, we can nurture this unbanked and underserved segment of the  community to become a new generation of farmers and business owners capable of  taking on challenges in the future. We welcome more participation in the programme,  including from government agencies and non-government organisations,” Mohd Zikri  commented further.

Earlier this morning, Mohd Zikri and Alan Hua Foung Wei, FDS’s co-owner and Secretary  General of the SME Association of Sarawak, hosted a briefing session at Biddy’s Café with  local microentrepreneurs to inform them on the resources available in facilitating their  business growth.