Universities Need Champions To Boost Entrepreneurship

By Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Izwan Azman

BANGI, 9 June 2015 – Malaysians must change their prevailing attitudes that entrepreneurship and universities are separate and have little to do with one another.

Many people think that going into business would not need a university education, said a researcher on entrepreneurship education Assoc Prof Datin Dr Shamshubaridah Ramlee when presenting her paper at 1st International Conference on Empowering Entrepreneurship (ICEE 2015), here today.

“We need champions if we want to make our university entrepreneurial. The typical Malaysian attitude is ‘Why do we need to go to university if we want to be entrepreneurs?,” said Dr Shamshubaridah, who is  the Director of the National University of Malaysia’s Centre for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprise Development (UKM-CESMED).

She said she carried out a case study approach to benchmark the success of UKM-CESMED’s entrepreneurship education.

She stressed that funding alone would not ensure the success of entrepreneurship development among students and academics.

Among the aspects she listed that were vital in entrepreneurship education were mentoring, active learning approaches used and monitoring and evaluation systems.

She expressed satisfaction that entrepreneurship education was the main agenda for 22 public academic institutions where funds to activate entrepreneurship activities were channelled.

Another participant Prof Datin Dr Norizan Abdul Razak said she had helped develop 200 women online social entrepreneurs to sell their small and medium enterprise products through the internet.

Prof Norizan said her aim was to upgrade the socio-economic status of women entrepreneurs by 30%, and to increase the online presence of women entrepreneurs via Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites.

Prof Norizan, who is also Director of UKM’s Centre for Corporate Communications, said she had trained women in rural and marginalised areas, such as Mersing, where the authorities deemed the district had a lot to offer to tourists.

“Mersing is a stop-over for tourists before embarking on a boat-ride to Tioman island. They would usually miss out on what Mersing had to offer. So, we trained the women there to do business making products that would attract visitors to stay longer to shop,” she explained.

She also train women to be entrepreneurs in Terengganu, Kelantan and Perak.

Meanwhile, Assoc Prof Dr Doris Padmini Selvaratnam of UKM’s Faculty of Economics and Management described how she helped the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia and the Pribumi of Sarawak develop their own arts and crafts industry to supplement their meager incomes.

“The natives of Sarawak at Sungai Asap and Belaga make rattan baskets and carpets to be sold to tourists. The Penan make key rings from forest products.

“In Peninsular Malaysia the Orang Asli of Kampung Kachau Luar are good at making Pandanous leaf baskets and key rings. But they are also very good at jungle trekking and offer their services to tourists, who can choose to experience Home Stay provided by the natives,” she told the conference participants.

The two-day conference was aimed at contributing to the growing interest and development of social entrepreneurship and its impact on youth and communities’ empowerment.