22 Most Profitable Businesses in Malaysia 2024

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Looking for the most profitable and best business opportunities in Malaysia? With a fast-growing economy, and an interesting blend of culture and demographics, Malaysia is a dream destination for business owners. Here are the top 22 business opportunities in Malaysia for you to explore.

Best Business Opportunities in Malaysia

1. Tourism

Given that tourism is a major contributor to the GDP of Malaysia; it is one of the most profitable businesses to start in Malaysia. Official figures published by the Malaysian Ministry of Economy show a rise of 24.3% YOY to 53.4 million visitors in Q3 20231. Shopping, food and beverages and transportation industries are some of the most profitable businesses as the result of continuous growth in tourism in Malaysia.  

2. Fashion business

The market for fashion apparel amounts to US$5.23 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow annually by 5.79% between 2023 and 2027(CAGR), according to research from Statista2. The growth is likely caused by a surge in consumer confidence, rising affluence, and in particular, increased spending by women. Some of the biggest fashion companies and e-commerce stores, such as Zalora, Shopee, Lelong, Hermo, etc., have huge followings in Malaysia, where interest in fashion, beauty, and personal accessories are on the rise. 2024 is the right time to tap into the fashion appetite of Malaysians.

3. Auto service and car wash

Auto service workshops and car wash services have a great profit scope in Malaysia as most people use private cars. According to findings from Grand View Research, the growth forecasts suggest that it will exhibit a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.8% from 2021 through 20283. The automotive and car wash industry is likely to continue growing in the coming years and prove to be one of the best and most profitable businesses in Malaysia

4. Leasing business

Right from plant and machinery, chattel to ships, expanding your leasing business into Malaysia can be a feasible option. When you incorporate your international company in Labuan (a territory in Malaysia), you can enjoy 100% foreign ownership apart from tax incentives.

5. Real estate business

The real estate industry offers wonderful business opportunities for entrepreneurs in Malaysia, with the government making it easy to buy houses. While you can choose your working hours, focusing on high-value properties can help you make a handsome profit.

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6. Construction business

The construction industry in Malaysia is expected to continue its growth momentum with an annual growth rate of 4.4% in 2024, according to market research4. The Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim also announced additional budget allocation in the 2024 Budget, including a total expenditure of MYR393.8 billion (US$89.8 billion) for 20244. With new residential apartments, malls, houses, large-scale transport, industrial and renewable energy projects, as well as the government’s vision with the Public Private Partnership 3.0 model to fund infrastructure projects as part of 12th Malaysia (12MP) plan between 2021 and 2025, the construction business will provide ample opportunities for foreign and domestic investors.

7. Rubber plantation

Malaysia is one of the largest producers of rubber in the world. While Malaysia does import raw rubber, it earns a majority of its revenue from exporting finished rubber products such as medical gloves. A strong labour force in the agricultural sector and tax incentives are some advantages of investing in Malaysia’s rubber industry.

If you have a strong background in managing rubber plantations and exporting rubber, consider expanding to Malaysia by investing in an existing rubber plantation business.

8. E-commerce store

Statista named Malaysia as one of the “leading countries for e-commerce growth”5 The top five products bought through e-commerce stores are travel, accommodation, fashion, beauty products, electronics, toys, and furniture. Given the vast market and its demand, businesses may benefit greatly from expanding into Malaysia by setting up an offshore company.

9. Computer and smartphone repairs

According to Statista, more than 30 million people are expected to become smartphone users by 2025 in Malaysia. More than 98% of Malaysian consumers are connected through the internet with their mobile phones6. For companies with an established presence in computer and smartphone repairs in other Asian countries, this represents an opportunity to expand their business into Malaysia.

10. Microfinance services

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Malaysia’s economy. Malaysia is the second most developed and competitive country in Southeast Asia, based on the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 20237 ,and even ranked 1st in emerging Southeast Asia for foreign investment7. Malaysia has always been open to foreign investments, with an impressive presence of 5000+ foreign companies from more than 50 countries. A favourable business environment, in addition to ongoing support for microfinancing, is the top reason to expand into this sector in Malaysia.

11. 3D printing business

To remain competitive, Malaysia’s manufacturing industry is looking to adopt new technologies such as 3D printing. During the pandemic, talented entrepreneurs in Malaysia used 3D printing to make face masks quickly, but experts see immense potential for 3D printing in Malaysia to create rapid prototyping in a cost-effective way. The low cost of 3D printers, and the open-source designs’ availability are some drivers of 3D printing growth.

12. Oil and gas

While Malaysia is the second-largest producer of oil and gas in Southeast Asia, the Malaysian government has continued to encourage FDI (foreign direct investment) in many sectors, including oil and gas. While the state-controlled PETRONAS has the sole rights to gas and oil deposits in Malaysia, foreign companies can enter into PSCs or production sharing contracts.

As a non-Malaysian firm, your company can participate in oil and gas production by partnering with local firms.

13. Cleaning services

The home services market in Malaysia is expected to grow to SGD 68 billion8 (USD 50.49 billion) by 2025, with a 55% year-on-year growth between 2021-2025.  While the demand for cleaning services is growing, the industry is labour-intensive, requiring a major investment in human resources. Partnering with a PEO services provider such as Links is an easier way for foreign investors to plan on expanding their cleaning business into Malaysia.

14. Export-Import

Apart from skilled labour, ease of doing business, and good infrastructure, Malaysia is the gateway to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN, an economic union of ten member states to foster trade and regional cooperation. Malaysia is also a member of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).

In addition, Malaysia’s transport links offer easy access to international travel and the global supply chain, with five international airports connecting Malaysia to all major trade hubs in Asia, making it one of the many reasons why Malaysia is so attractive to international businesses.

15. Food supply/restaurant

Malaysian food is a vibrant blend of different cultures and cuisines and the F&B segment is expected to continue growing. According to Statista, the revenue in the food market is expected to amount to US$62.27 billion in 2024 in Malaysia. The market is projected to grow annually by 6.85%9

The food industry in the country comprises fast-food cafes, full-service restaurants, self-service cafeterias, and street kiosks. If your food business serves unique local cuisines in Singapore or other Asian countries, you can obtain a retail or wholesale trade licence. Therefore, it ranks among the best and most profitable business ideas in Malaysia.

16. Hotel booking services

Plenty of destinations in Malaysia attract millions of tourists to the country, making the online hotel booking business a feasible investment option. With its low cost of living, well-developed infrastructure, natural scenery and proximity to other Asian countries, Malaysia has become an attractive destination for digital nomads. According to SEMRUSH, in December 2023 alone, the top 5 most-visited hospitality websites (Agoda, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, traveloka.com, and regenting.com) recorded more than 14 million visits10. It is expected that 73% of the total revenue in the travel and tourism market in Malaysia will be generated through online sales by 202811. Hence, the hotel booking business is considered one of the best and most financially rewarding ventures in Malaysia.

17. Professional services

In Malaysia, professionals and consultants such as business management consultants, tax consultants, lawyers, and accountants are in demand. Diverse human resources, permission for 100% foreign ownership for a variety of businesses, and the supply of multilingual professionals who are competent in English and Malay are the advantages for foreign investors.

18. IT business

The IT sector is fast-growing in Malaysia. Businesses in the hardware, software, or cloud computing sectors are well-positioned to expand into Malaysia. Over 500 business parks and a reliable internet speed make Malaysia an attractive destination for IT investment.

19. Departmental store

Strong private consumption and ongoing investments in infrastructure make the retail sector a promising one for foreign investors. Excellent transport links and international delivery services help retail businesses cater to rising market demand.

20. Affiliate marketing

Given that a booming 28.6 million people in Malaysia (78.5% of the national population) are social media users, according to Statista, expanding your business to build a local affiliate marketing platform can be a viable option. The platform connects marketers with influencers and affiliates12.

21. T-shirt printing

In Malaysia, wearing custom T-shirts is a popular trend, leading to the growth of the t-shirt printing market. In Malaysia, the T-Shirts market is projected to generate an astonishing US$269.1 million in 2024, research from Statistic shows13. Interestingly, the demand for traditional batik-printed T-shirts in Malaysia has risen, demonstrating a growing interest in preserving and promoting the country’s cultural heritage. All in all, the T-shirt printing business stands out as one of Malaysia’s most profitable and thriving businesses.

22. Market research

Exploring Malaysia for expanding your market research services business may be a good idea. You can do so through a joint-venture corporation with 30% of shareholders being Malaysian individuals or corporations.

Expand Your Business with Our PEO and EOR Services

If you already own one of these profitable businesses, you should consider expanding your presence in Malaysia. At Links International, we offer the best Employer of Record (EOR)/ Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) Secondment services, enabling cost-effective and quick business expansion. Our in-house expertise ensures you hire the right local talent effectively while staying compliant with local labour, payroll, and tax laws. Contact us today to learn more about our HR services.

Related Articles:

1 Source: Ministry of Economy Department of Statistics Malaysia – Stats Bulletin  – Performance of Domestic Tourism in Malaysia

2 Source: Statista – Market Insights – Consumer – Apparel – Malaysia

3 Source: Malaysia Car Wash Service Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Type (Tunnels, Roll-over/In-bay, Self-service, Manual), And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028

4 Source: MarketWatch – Press Release – Malaysia Construction Industry Report 2023: Output is Expected to Grow by 6.6% in Real Terms in 2023 – Size, Trends Analysis by Sector, Competitive Landscape and Forecasts 2018-2022 and 2023-2027 – ResearchAndMarkets.com

5 Source: Statista – E-commerce in Malaysia – statistics & facts

6 Source: Statista – Smartphone market in Malaysia – statistics and facts

7 Source: PWC – Doing Business in Malaysia 2023 p.8

8 Source: PR Newswire – Online On-demand Home Services Market in Malaysia | Analyzing Growth in Specialized Consumer Services Industry

9 Source: Statista – Market Insight – Consumer – Food – Malaysia

10 Source: SEMRUSH – Free Website Traffic Checker – Top Websites – Malaysia – Hospitality

11 Source: Statistia – Market Insights – Mobility – Travel & Tourism – Malaysia

12 Source: Statista – Internet – Social Media & User-Generated Content – Social media in Malaysia – statistics & facts

13 Source: Statista – Market Insights – Consumer – Apparel  – Men’s Apparel – T-Shirts – Malaysia

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Scott Thomson
Group Managing Director at Links International
Lynette Liew
APAC Senior Business Development Manager at Links International

Event Details:

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