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THE Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Co-operatives (Medac) aims to create a new university of co-operatives and entrepreneurship but what would be the most effective model?
It might seem rather brave to propose to set up a new university in the very challenging environment for higher education in Malaysia but the proposal from Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar that Medac aims to establish a university of co-operatives and entrepreneurship deserves serious attention.
The vision is to create a new cohort of professionals and entrepreneurs with leadership and management expertise for the next generation of co-operatives and enterprises among more than 6.1 million members of the Malaysian co-operatives movement.
Many will be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which already account for 98.5% of all business in Malaysia and employ around two out of every three people.
Around 76.5% are micro-enterprises often in the Medac universe. SME contribution to GDP increased to 38.9% in 2020 from 38.3% in 2019.
By contrast, SMEs account for 99.8% of all businesses in the European Union (EU) and again account for around two-thirds of employment.
Around 93.1% are micro-enterprises. They contribute 55% of GDP, fully 15% more than here in Malaysia.
This shows the massive value-add that can be gained from investment in entrepreneurship and is a clear motivation in itself to create a new model to teach, develop and nurture entrepreneurs in Malaysia, especially in the micro-enterprise and co-operative community.
So, what do we need to do to create this new approach to entrepreneur development?
You will probably recall hearing a successful entrepreneur speak. They are passionate, engaging and enthusiastic. Their ideas are infectious and you come away with a real buzz. For them their business idea becomes all consuming.
No wonder that 80% of 18-year-olds now aspire to run their own business. Many have already started.
Harsha Ravindran began her journey at the age of 11 and now has more than 400 clients across four continents. She was 17 when she launched StartMyName.
Can such enthusiasm be somehow bottled? Can entrepreneurship be taught? There is no shortage of universities and business schools teaching entrepreneurship in Malaysia and abroad.
Some of their students dream of being the next Richard Branson but many aspire to have a better future for themselves and their families and freedom to do what they want.
Social aims are also a key driver of a new generation of entrepreneurs hoping to create social enterprises, leveraging impact investment and sustainable finance, creating decent work in inclusive workspaces and measuring success with social return on investment as well as financial profit and loss.
Where do most entrepreneurs learn their skills? The answer is probably not in the classroom but from the world of hard knocks.