On the 25th of July, journalists at the Malaysia Global Business Forum attended the media release of the launch of the SME and Entrepreneurs Business Awards 2019 in conjunction with Murfest 2019. The launch was held at the Palace of Golden Horses, MINES Wellness City.

The launch commenced with an introductory video which raised the anticipation for 8,9,10 November when Murfest and SEBA 2019 will be held. Following this, was the opening address by Mr Nitesh Malani, founder of MyPreneurship, Yayasan Usahawan Malaysia in which he lauded the combination of SEBA and Murfest to create a dynamic partnership.

He explained that the economy of the country is dependent on SMEs and these awards encourage all business players in Malaysia to strive for success along with the fact that initiatives like Murfest should be encouraged to better the rapidly growing wellness industry in Malaysia.

Mr Isaac Mohan Raj, Head of Palace of Golden Horses (POGH), then spoke, appreciating the trust Mr Malani and his team have in deciding to host Murfest 2019 at this very hotel. He went on to say the understanding and relationship built between Yayasan Usahawan Malaysia and Palace of Golden Horses is strong and the hotel will aim to give participants the best possible Murfest experience to ensure an excellent, 3 day festival.

Other members of SEBA then gave their own addresses. Ms Olivia Mercado, an organiser of Murfest 2019, explained the benefits of Murfest and gave her inputs on the growing wellness industry in Malaysia.

Then, there were two performances by some very talented people which although a sneak peek, was a greater insight into what Murfest 2019 has in store.

Afterwards, the stakeholders signed several Memorandums of Understanding – (MOU). Yayasan Usahawan signed an MOU with RAMCI (the firm that does credit standings on nominees) and then signed its MOU with Cheng and Co (the auditor that checks financial documents of nominees). It then signed its MOU with Exhale Asia.

After these proceedings were over, the media then were given the opportunity to ask questions. MGBF journalists posed questions to Mr Malani and his team. The first question that was asked was, “how have the validation and motivation of SEBA’s awards, helped young millennial entrepreneurs and SMEs”?

Mr Malani answered by saying that the two significant MOU’s that were signed during the afternoon – the first one with RAMCI and other with Cheng and Co will enable the nomination process to have stronger qualitative and quantitative assessments.

SEBA sees see this as one of the factors that will provide the check and balance system to the awardees as SEBA moves forward.  This would mean young SMEs would have to strive harder for success and will need to show their financial statements therefore increasing the quality of award recipients. In the long run, this should bode well for young SMEs as they would have to improve their financial statements, if not strong enough, to be considered for awards.

Next, he was asked about the gig economy in Malaysia, “with the rapid development of the gig economy, take for example platforms such as GRAB, AirBNB – how can SEBA provide value to the growing gig economy in Malaysia on the whole as well as at a regional level?”

Mr Malani along with Mr David Gurupatham (DGK Advocates & Solicitors Advisor Yayasan Usahawan Malaysia) explained that in terms of the gig economy, one of the largest focus in the last few months has been the growth of various investors and businesses from China that are looking at Malaysia while Malaysia is looking at the large China market.

The focus for SEBA in 2019 is to further enhance the China – Malaysia trade relationship, Tun Mahathir begun in his visit to China earlier this year. The Chinese and Malaysian leaders issued a “policy statement” fully aware that supporting entrepreneurial growth initiatives can lead to benefits for their respective countries. Hence, the aim for this year is to create wide reaching publicity to show that there are entrepreneurs out there from China and other nations who have been successful.

The nominees for this year’s awards have performed extremely well. The success of these nominees shows that there is potential greater interest for businesses to invest in Malaysia.

There are businesses coming to Malaysia that are looking for opportunities so SEBA intends to ‘showcase’ Malaysia to other countries and encourage more investors and entrepreneurs to come to Malaysia and engage in business and investment.

This would, in turn, open up the platform for Malaysian entrepreneurs to expand their ventures to other countries and look towards securing new business opportunities. This is the first year in which this has been the ultimate aim of SEBA’s awards.

The last question journalists at the MGBF asked was, “What sets Murfest 2019 apart from other such wellness festivals in Asia? Ms Mercado answered by highlighting 3 main factors.

Malaysia is a lush, diverse country and a breeding ground of different cultures. One would think, with the melting pot that Kuala Lumpur is, this gives the city a certain edge and thus it is fitting that such a festival will be held here.

Having attended many festivals across South-East Asia, and beyond, she said that Murfest will hold quality teachers and instructors for people to explore and deepen their knowledge in all facets they may be interested in. Whether these be yoga, healing practices, sports, cooking.

Lastly, the “Murfest Tribe” – when people come together and share commonalities from the heart deeply and take part in activities with new people, this is truly remarkable. To finish, she commented that these 3 factors come to mind as “differentials to other festivals around Asia”.

Mr Malani then added about the ‘synergy’ of the collaboration between all the stakeholders. The synergy between Yayasan Usahawan, Exhale Asia and Palace of Golden Horses is imperative to ensure the awarding process is intact. One of the key improvements that is being worked on is towards bringing on more corporate engagement towards hotels.

“We see this as a great opportunity to not only grow corporate engagement, but also, the concept of an urban retreat/the idea of urban wellness is of large hospitality value thus we are looking at this as a differentiation factor against other players in the market” – Mr Malani explained

Mr Isaac Raj then added that POGH is sensing new opportunities and slowly moving from the “conventional” hotel’s business of rooms and restaurants and expanding its horizons. As a by-product of increased customer wellness and health awareness, the hotel has already its own healthcare centre in GHHS which makes it the first hotel with the same.

Palace of Golden Horses started with medical tourism and now is shifting towards wellness tourism thanks to Murfest, Since last year, Mr Isaac desired for Murfest to be held at his hotel and now since he has achieved that, he intends to keep Yayasan Usahawan Malaysia interested so that the festival would be held at the hotel for as long as possible.

To end, the emcee, Ms Edwards, asked “what are the key programs visitors should look out for at Murfest”.

Ms Mercado responded that Murfest is a “Wellness Buffett” and since the range of activities are extremely diverse, there aren’t key programs that can be pinpointed at. It should satisfy most visitors interests as there would be dancing, healing, yoga, sports and much more.

It will not matter whether one is a beginner or is advanced as the goal is to experience and absorb as much as possible. “As far as one is clear what one wishes to gain from the festival’, you are likely to find it and enjoy yourself. Whatever you wish to learn about, you should find it at Murfest.

Going by the glamorous media launch and build-up in the last few months, 2019’s Murfest and SEBA Awards promise to be spectacular.


Reported by Shaam Gupta


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