A specialised programme to enhance Bumiputera’s participation within the Halal industry may soon be developed in line with Malaysia’s aspirations to become a regional Halal hub.

For starters, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and CIMB Islamic Bank have agreed to collaborate with Shapers Malaysia Sdn Bhd to feature 150 MARA-assisted Bumiputera entrepreneurs within the inaugural Halal Fiesta Malaysia (HALFEST) to be held from October 12 – 16 at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) Kuala Lumpur.

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Shukri (left) and Rosdi at the MOU ceremony with Dato Husni looking on.

Speaking at an MOU signing ceremony here in Kuala Lumpur, MARA Deputy Director General (Entrepreneurship) En Rosdi Hj Ismail said the agency would be providing assistance and support for local entrepreneurs to penetrate the local and global Halal market.

“Through our various schemes, programmes and incentives, MARA is already providing assistance and support for local entrepreneurs,” Rosdi said. “As co-organisers of HALFEST 2011, a total of 150 booths are allocated under MARA to ensure that Bumiputera entrepreneurs will have a platform to position their products in the local market. It will now depend on the entrepreneurs to seize this opportunity and participate in HALFEST.”

Conceptualised to support the development of the local Halal sector, HALFEST will be the largest Halal expo in Malaysia that hosts more than 700 booths for industry players especially the SMEs to showcase their Halal products and services to over 50,000 visitors expected at the expo.

Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, Executive Director and CEO of CIMB Islamic said, “As a global leader in Islamic Finance, we have always been a firm supporter of the local Halal market. We believe that a platform such as HALFEST will further assist the industry at large particularly the small medium enterprises (SMEs).”

Badlisyah added that CIMB Islamic acknowledges the fact that the Halal industry players are always seeking for innovative ways to raise funds, and they are pleased to be able to play a role in assisting them financially to develop the industry. “To be a true Halal business, one must finance the business by way of Islamic banking and finance,” he said.

HALFEST, which aims to promote Halal products manufactured by local companies from around Malaysia, also seeks to inculcate a Halal lifestyle amongst the Malaysian consumers.

By setting up a promotional platform for these companies, HALFEST will inadvertently help nurture the Halal entrepreneurs to be export-oriented so that in three years time, they would be ready to experience the Halal export market through the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS), of which Shapers is also its main organisers.

Mohd Shukri Abdullah, CEO of Shapers Malaysia said, “What we have achieved today is truly a unique collaboration, one that brings together the private sector, the government, the NGO and a premiere financial institution in Malaysia to come together, with one vision and determination, not mere rhetoric, to elevate the capacity of local Halal enterprises and entrepreneurs and to enable Malaysia to really stand out as an effective and respected global Halal Hub.”

In this regard, Shukri said they are spending a total of RM1.95 million solely on A&P, which is approximately 35% of the total cost of RM5.5 million to organise HALFEST 2011. To date, a total of 572 out of 727 booth spaces have already been snapped up.

HALFEST 2011 will be an event of international standard that exudes a carnival-like atmosphere, with a series of exciting activities planned for visitors throughout the five-day event. These include a celebrity walkabout by more than 12 local artistes including special appearances by Dato Siti Nurhaliza and Upin&Ipin, cooking demos by a celebrity chef, fashion shows, Halal Hunts and interesting games for the kids.

The dual signing ceremony was witnessed by the Minister of Finance II, YB Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah and the CEO of Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) Dato’ Sri Jamil Bidin.

To be held from 12 – 16 October 2011 at PWTC, Kuala Lumpur, HALFEST is brought by CIMB Islamic Bank Berhad, hosted by Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC), co-organised by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and is supported by Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry (MOA), the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) and Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM).