Ismainur Hadi Amat Bakeron (left) and Khairul Anwar Ab Ghani with the reference material used in the Coca-Cola KU programme. Pix by Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor

THERE is more to starting a business than having a product to sell or a service to provide.

Not only do you need to know how to manage the cash flow and inventory as well as understand the art of merchandising, you must also be cognisant of business regulations and ethics as well as be aware of the programmes available that will support you as an entrepreneur.

These are among the things the Coca-Cola Entrepreneur Community (Coca-Cola KU) programme aim to impart to university students around the country who aspire to become well-rounded entrepreneurs one day.

Launched in April and helmed by the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) in collaboration with Coca-Cola Malaysia, the programme targets to produce 20,000 micro entrepreneurs by 2020. While Coca-Cola will share its vast experience and knowledge in running a business, KPDNKK will be sharing on how to run a business in the right way.

“This year, we are running the programme in 14 public universities. The programme is open to students from all faculties. It doesn’t matter whether they are a first-year student or in their final year. If you have the interest in starting a business or already have started one, you are welcomed to join,” said Ismainur Hadi Amat Bakeron, director of KPDNKK Business Development Division.

To date, the Coca-Cola KU programme have been conducted at Universiti Malaysia Perlis which received 1,100 participants — with 200 being local women entrepreneurs — and at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia which saw 700 students participating. The programme will continue in 12 other universities after the fasting month. With the current interest, KPDNKK foresees having 14,500 participants for the programme by year-end.

The fact that Coca-Cola KU are open to both university students who aspire to become entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs gives a dynamic dimension to the programme, said

Coca-Cola Malaysia communications manager Khairul Anwar Ab Gahani.

“Coca-Cola KU actually stems from 5by20, which is the Coca-Cola Company’s global commitment to enable the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across the company’s value chain by 2020. It is being conducted in all countries Coca-Cola have a presence in. This programme focuses on three key areas to unlock women’s economic empowerment: business skills training; access to credit; and developing networks of peers and mentors.

“In Malaysia, with KPDNKK, we target entrepreneurs and students. Students, through the programme, can learn from the entrepreneurs — learn from their experiences and understand what their challenges are. With KPDNKK working with universities, we have the perfect medium to reach out to both these groups,” he said.

On the programme structure and teaching modules, Khairul Anwar said Coca-Cola KU is essentially a one-day training programme.

“In the training session, we cover basic business or entrepreneurial knowledge. Trainers from Coca-Cola will take the participants through how to develop a business plan followed by managing cash flow and credit, managing quality and service as well as drafting a marketing plan. Trainers from KPDNKK will train them on business regulation and business ethics, which is very important, and of course, micro financing,” said Khairul Anwar.

For businesses, there is never a straightforward layer of doing things, he added. “Even something as simple as merchandising, there is a science to it — how you place a product on a shelf in a shop. What are the requirements of the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry. Before joining our programme, participants do not know all these. These examples are what students appreciate because they can see there is more to it than just running a business,” he said.

Ismainur Hadi said KPDNKK not only share its values and business ethics, but it also introduces participants to agencies such as the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM). SSM serves as an agency to incorporate companies and register businesses.

“We teach the students how to register a business with SSM from A to Z. Not only do students get merit points from their respective universities for joining the Coca-Cola KU programme, we provide them the opportunity to register their businesses for free when normally it would cost from RM70 to RM100. Our goal is to have students register their businesses while still studying. It can be any type of business — online, retail, etc. A registered business can be given even more support by the government, such as being eligible for micro-credit financing,” he said.

And after completing the programme, participants who are interested can take part in the Coca-Cola vendor programme, Khairul Anwar highlighted.

Of future plans, Khairul Anwar said the Coca-Cola KU programme with KPDNKK is not a one-off but a long-term commitment for the company.

KPDNKK agrees.

“We will try to bring the programme to more universities next year — including private universities,” said Ismainur Hadi.

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