KOTA KINABALU: Don’t be afraid to venture into entrepreneurship.
That was the main message conveyed to youths at the recent Professional Training and Education for Growing Entrepreneurs (Protégé) programme in Universiti Malaysia Sabah, attended by thousands of students.
Protégé secretariat head Norashikin Ismail said the “reach-out and awareness” programme in Sabah was to foster confidence among students to become entrepreneurs, instead of just job-seek at a time of economic uncertainty.
She said this programme provided assistance to budding entrepreneurs to explore their potential.
“We are going from one university to another to encourage students to become job creators instead of job seekers. We want to give them a boost in confidence to try their hand at entrepreneurship,” she said.
According to Norashikin, Protégé has so far reached out to 17,000 students in 14 universities, including UMS, since the initiative was launched on Jan 28 this year.
The next phase of the Protégé series will commence in September, and similar programmes will be conducted in six universities around the country.
“We will identify the crème de la crème among the participants and groom them to become young entrepreneurs for others to follow suit,” Norashikin said.
Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Yusof, who attended the programme here, said Protégé could have a huge impact in producing entrepreneurs who can rise to the international level because it is supported by agencies such as the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC).
Mohd Redzuan added that Protégé also has very comprehensive programmes.
“If that is not enough, we have third-party applications that will help graduates to become entrepreneurs. Additionally, we have strategic partnerships with institutes of higher education for local or international internships.
“So far since its launch, the response to Protégé has been very encouraging compared to previous schemes,” he noted.
Protégé has certainly proven to be beneficial for Food Science student Norhafizatul Husna Ahmad Puat, 22, from Kangar.
“As a student, I understand that the future is uncertain. If I can’t find a job, then I have to explore other options such as starting my own business.
“From this programme, I learnt that there are sponsorships and financial aid available to help graduates kickstart their business.
“Although I plan to work for a company after I finish my studies, my goal is to have my own business, dealing with food innovation in Malaysia or other countries,” she said.
Norhafizatul’s friend Nur Mardhiah Amil Bangsa, 21, from Tuaran, said she learnt the importance of having an innovative mind in entrepreneurship.
Engineering student Ekma Evaldo Johnius, 20, from Ranau, said he mostly enjoyed the forum in which he raised a question about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) in Malaysia and its effect on job opportunities.
“One of the reasons why I decided to come to this programme was to see Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan in person. I asked him if artificial intelligence would eliminate the need for human workers. But he assured us that job opportunities would rise in tandem with AI.
“As a freelance photographer, I understand the merits of being an entrepreneur. But after joining this programme, I am determined to work harder at my trade,” he explained.
Protégé is a rebrand of Skim Latihan 1Malaysia (SL1M); it emphasises entrepreneurship training to produce more entrepreneurs or job creators and job seekers.
The entrepreneurship programmes are ProtégéEntrepreneurship Intern, Protégé Boot Camp, Protégé Business Accelerator, Protégé Co-op and Protégé in ICT, while the employability programmes are Protégé Ready-To-Work, Protégé Booster and Protégé for Industry.
Under this programme, universities collaborate with the Entrepreneur Development Ministry to reach out to graduates, undergraduates and youths via career fairs, industrial relations and education expos, a skill festival as well as motivational sessions with celebrities.