Looking forward to GES spin-offs


  • Business
  • Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013

Comment by Finance Ministry Treasury  secretary-general and organising chairman of the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013 Tan Sri Irwan Siregar Abdullah.

WITH any important innovation, nobody remembers the innovator but everyone remembers the person who made the innovation useful, trendy and well known.

So too with GES Kuala Lumpur 2013, long after the curtains have come down, what will be enduring are the partnerships that were formed, the connections that were made and the spin-off initiatives that were created from the event.

Deals totalling RM12.65mil were signed by delegates during the summit. The amount is all the more significant as the summit never set any monetary target.

More importantly what GES Kuala Lumpur 2013 has done for Malaysia was to kickstart entrepreneurial collaborations or establishing allies.

Many of the close to 5,000 delegates from 123 countries and 105 speakers from 26 countries had not even been to Malaysia before.

I can tell you they were pleasantly surprised with the physical infrastructure, the dynamism of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the availability of talent.

The team from Malaysia, Netizen Testing Sdn Bhd, bagged the People’s Choice Award at the third Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Tech-I Competition which ran in conjunction with GES Kuala Lumpur 2013.

Talk’ n Eye, an application to help the visually impaired, was one of the four finalists at a pitching competition organised during the Global Startup Youth side event.

The problem with Malaysians is that we are not lacking in anything except the ability to shout out loud enough on what we do have.

Maybe it is in our nature to be modest and humble about these things. The world recognises us as a great place for entrepreneurship and we need to capitalise on this. This is what we should embark on to be the global entrepreneurial hub.

We hope that we shouted out loud enough at the GES 2013 so that it will be the catalyst to drive entrepreneurship in Malaysia and the region going forward.

This year’s GES was the largest of all the previous summits before and was recognised as one which made the annual event truly global.

For this we have to thank Secretary of State John Kerry together with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Trade Representative Michael Froman for attending the event.

We also have to thank MDEC, SME Corp, the Royal Malaysian Police, Matrade, KPWKM, US officials, the conference organiser and my ministry team for working tirelessly to organise the summit without a hitch.

Putting aside the accolades and praises for now, what is important is that we don’t stop here and instead look forward to the spin-offs that GES Kuala Lumpur 2013 will and must bring.

One such initiative is the 1Malaysia Entrepreneurship (1MeT) which will be the training ground for a whole new breed of local entrepreneurs from Malaysian youth.

This year the 1MeT team met up with aspiring and budding entrepreneurs at 22 boot camps throughout the country. The 1Met programme will continue to next year and beyond and our target is to create 5,000 entrepreneurs every year.

During GES Kuala Lumpur 2013, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the establishment of a one-stop centre for entrepreneurs, called the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creative Centre (MaGIC), located in our own Silicon Valley, Cyberjaya.

I believe that by placing all the support facilities from financing to mentoring under one roof would greatly facilitate entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to fruition.

It is our hope that these passionate young entrepreneurs from the 1MeT programmes will use the facilities of MaGIC to nurture their businesses.

It was also announced during the summit that a new programme called Beehive Malaysia where Babson College in the United States in partnership with the US Department of State and Malaysian universities and businesses will provide social entrepreneurs a collaborative, shared workspace where they can solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.

Malaysia is at an important phase of development. We have embarked on various transformation programmes to help us achieve the status of a high-income and developed nation by 2020.

We believe that entrepreneurship is one of the key drivers to achieve this target.

The majority of Malaysian businesses are small and medium enterprises (SMEs) accounting for 97.3% of total business establishments registered. Within the SMEs, the bulk is microenterprises, which are defined as having less than five employees.

Our SMEs contribute 32% to GDP and 60% to total employment, suggesting much scope for enhancing their contribution to the economy.

However, our SMEs are still lagging in terms of productivity, innovation and research and development compared with advanced economies.

They also lack seed capital to finance them through the various stages from conception of idea to startup, development, commercialisation, branding, marketing and distribution.

As such, we must relentlessly pursue efforts to create a conducive ecosystem and provide a facilitative environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to flourish.

This will go a long way to help create new entrepreneurs and enable existing entrepreneurs to grow, so that they are able to contribute to domestic and global economic growth as well as shared prosperity.

During GES Kuala Lumpur 2013 where a policy roundtable was organised, it was emphasised that policy makers should be aware of the negative impacts of over-engineering to promote entrepreneurship, and know when to fade into the background or risk overwhelming the power of entrepreneurial ecosystem.

To this I would like to add that the private sector must step up and complement government efforts to support the SMEs. They should accommodate some risk-taking to help SMEs either as angel investors or providers of venture capital.

SMEs also need to be creative and seek novel ways of financing such as crowd funding, especially in the Malaysian context.

We also do not want to stand alone in this effort and want to spur the regional and international business community, especially those in neighbouring Asean countries and East Asia to collaborate through a regional GES event that we plan to organise next year as a prelude to GES 2014 that will be held in Morocco.

In the meantime we hope the spirit and magic of GES Kuala Lumpur 2013 will live on and that entrepreneurs will continue to be empowered and connected.

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