SMALL- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of many economies around the world.
In Malaysia, 98.5 per cent of business establishments in the country are SMEs, cutting across all sizes and economic sectors. Furthermore, SMEs contributed RM552.3 billion or 38.9 per cent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year.
These numbers reflect the importance of entrepreneurs and the role of entrepreneurship in driving a country’s development, from spurring economic growth to creating social change.
Entrepreneurship is open to both old and young individuals; anyone can become an entrepreneur as long as he or she has the initiative, creativity, innovation, risk-taking tendency, persistence, and other enterprising qualities required to run a business.
However, some young people might be uncertain about pursuing entrepreneurship, considering the limitations that they face compared to adult entrepreneurs when launching and running a new venture.
These include having less access to capital and workspace; lacking experience; possessing a small business network; relying on basic tools or no equipment at all; unwilling to take risks; and being discouraged by their parents for choosing an ‘unstable’ career.
Still, it’s worth noting that more young people are opting for entrepreneurship as a career path, especially those from developing countries.
In a 2014 survey conducted by Deloitte involving 7,800 youths in 28 countries, although 70 per cent of respondents considered working on their own at some point in their careers, nearly 82 per cent of those in developing countries expected such independence in the future, compared to 52 per cent in developed nations.
It’s also important to recognise the diverse benefits that youth entrepreneurship has to offer.
In terms of the economy and the society, it creates jobs; drives innovation; introduces new or enhanced products or services; raises the degree of competition in the market; and fosters positive community development.
Youths who pursue entrepreneurship have the opportunity to gain learning experiences that can’t be found in traditional education, thereby improving valuable soft skills such as critical thinking, decision making, leadership, and teamwork.
Most importantly, when they become successful, they can act as role models and create more awareness of youth entrepreneurship among other young people, especially those in deprived communities who may then view entrepreneurship as a way out of poverty or social exclusion.
In essence, in spite of the risks and hardships involved, entrepreneurship allows youths to start and operate a business in order to solve a problem that should ideally benefit people in the long term.
Even if they fail in their endeavour, those who decide to seek employment afterwards tend to be highly employable in the job market as the experience and skills they gained as entrepreneurs give them an added advantage over their competition.
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.