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Coventry University UK: Furthering the Conversation on Transformational Entrepreneurship in Malaysia

September 06, 2019

Sharifah Sakinah


KUALA LUMPUR, 20 MARCH – Coventry University’s International Centre for Transformational Entrepreneurship (ICTE)’s team was recently in Kuala Lumpur for three days to conduct meetings and activities with local stakeholders to engage and discuss the challenges, opportunities, and future of transformational entrepreneurship in Malaysia. Having launched the Southeast Asia Institute for Transformational Entrepreneurship (SEAITE) with the support of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College in 2017, Coventry’s return visit aimed to further promote the agenda on renewed thinking on enterprise and entrepreneurship. 

ICTE brings to Malaysia its goals of forging a new generation of great entrepreneurial thinkers and doers; driving forward fresh ways of doing business for the 21st century; and analysing and promoting enterprise and entrepreneurial policies that will enable transformational entrepreneurship. As such, SEAITE plays a great role in advancing ICTE’s purpose by developing the enterprise and entrepreneurship educational ecosystem in Malaysia and from there, build capacity and capability through research-led programmes. 

As part of the visit, Coventry UK’s representatives met up with the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development (MED) to partake in discussions pertaining to the Malaysian market knowledge and policies, as well as identifying its challenges and concerns. In addition, Coventry connected with local entrepreneurs to explore collaboration opportunities as well as ways to prepare the upcoming generation and institutions for transformational entrepreneurship. 

The Director of ICTE from Coventry UK, Professor Gideon Maas said: “The key learnings from this visit were that people are eager to have conversations about the unique challenges of the local and global environment and equally eager to find contextualised answers for these challenges. These solutions will not lie in individual programmes and projects but rather through the promotion of a sound and well-articulated entrepreneurial ecosystem.” 

As to the reason behind Malaysia being the country chosen for such an initiative, Professor Gideon Maas elaborated: “We identify countries that have energy, economic growth, drive, and a willingness to do things. Not to mention, an entrepreneurial strategy, which you don’t find in many countries. There’s a difference between normal businesses and entrepreneurial businesses, in which the latter is more energetic and focused on creating long-term growth – that is why Malaysia was chosen.”

A key highlight of the visit was a roundtable meeting that was held today where Coventry University was joined by the following participants to discuss the landscape of entrepreneurship in Malaysia – examining it from all fronts, such as the roles of the government and educational institutions – as well as building relationships with local stakeholders, which in turn, build up resources for Malaysian entrepreneurs:

Startup Malaysia
StartUp Malaysia exists to advance entrepreneurial thinking and believes in helping young people inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset – the prerequisite of becoming an entrepreneur. Their programmes aim to help people launch meaningful ventures, and they have been behind many successful initiatives in Malaysia such as the Silicon Valley Comes to Malaysia programme and the Global Startup Youth.
Taylor’s Education Group
Taylor’s University’s “Projek Keusahawanan” trains B40 community members to become entrepreneurs and was conducted for eight different PPR communities. In 2018, the programme awarded 107 entrepreneurs from the B40 community with CIMB’s business grants and offered business management and skill-building classes. 

United Nations Development Programmes (UNDP)
Committed to assisting Malaysia and its people establish sustainable pathways to development and achieving its ambition of becoming a developed nation by 2020 – it brings together government agencies and development partners to use aid effectively with a strong focus on capacity building; human rights; and women empowerment. One of its projects is Youth Co:Lab, an Asia-Pacific youth entrepreneurship initiative. 

British Council Malaysia 
Having published the latest Social Entrepreneurship Report on the 12th of March 2019, the report contributes to a global body of work around social entrepreneurship with the goal of informing future policies. It captures the landscape of Social Entrepreneurship four years after the first study done by MaGIC. 

Tandemic is an innovation firm that provides training and consulting for organisations that want to make innovative and user-centred ways of working business as usual. Tandemic is British Council Malaysia’s appointed partner to produce the latest Social Entrepreneurship Report.  

University Putra Malaysia (UPM)
UPM’s Institute of Advanced Technology (ITMA) integrates technology and research in entrepreneurship.

Impact Hub KL
Impact Hub KL delivers cross-country training and capacity building workshops for entrepreneurs. Their mission is to be a hub and beyond for business and people-driven impact in Malaysia by building inclusive cities and communities; supporting impactful enterprises; and empowering learners through collaborative programmes and entrepreneurial action. 

Social Innovation Movement
An institution whose purpose is to lead impact driven social innovations through community development – based upon collective intelligence, including those emerging from corporates, academic institutions, civil society organisations, governments, and local communities. 

An impact organisation, which aims to create 50,000 jobs by 2021 – it connects mothers by providing an online platform; face-to-face events; and a support system for those venturing into home-based entrepreneurship. CARING MOMS not only empowers women, but offers them the tools needed to run a commercially viable and professional business or service. 

Growth Malaysia (by Fave)
Growth Malaysia provides digital knowledge and support to local entrepreneurs. 

1337 Ventures
1337 Ventures is an accelerator and venture builder. Since 2011, 1337 Ventures has helped 500 startups launch with its accelerator programme and seed funding.

PurpoSE Malaysia
Aiming to spur and grow social enterprise practices in Malaysia – their goal is to venture and build high potential and scalable social enterprise that can multiply their impact as well as provide an advocacy role for stakeholders (both government and private sectors alike) for the benefit of the ecosystem development. 

Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp)
TalentCorp is a national agency that drives Malaysia’s talent strategy towards becoming a dynamic talent hub. Their initiatives are tailored for professionals; students; employers; and industry and academic partners. Some of their work includes the Career Comeback Programme; Upskilling Programme; Semester Break Programme, Work Life Practices, and more.

With regards to the meeting, Professor Gideon Maas stressed that it was an open discussion – its main focus was not only to network to understand the local landscape so that solutions can be better contextualised, but it was also to set an agenda. “We can use the agenda as a point of measuring our own progress. From this discussion, we came up with eight points to fine tune. Some of the areas include the ecosystem; education; and ways to get corporates and communities involved as they have to support entrepreneurship. In that sense, we now have a target – it includes influencing the curriculum design; incentivising lecturers to be more entrepreneurial; and creating case studies. So, if we stay in touch virtually or physically, we can always return to this agenda.”

Of obstacles unique to Malaysia, Professor Gideon pointed out that an important challenge to tackle moving forward from this is the changing of people’s mindsets as social entrepreneurship is very much often viewed as synonymous to charity. When in reality, both exist and operate in two different spaces. 

Nevertheless, he is adamant that while there is still much to be done, Malaysia is on the right track – especially due to local governmental policies that create a conducive environment for transformational entrepreneurship. He stressed, “No country has a perfect ecosystem, but there has to be willingness to deal with the imperfections. That is how we improve and identify gaps that have to be filled. We do not believe there is a particular model or way to do things – everything has to be contextualised and fit into the respective country’s landscape. What we can do is share information and learn from each other.” 

There is much to be done in this sector, but the meeting of this industry’s key players has certainly deepened the discourse on the matter. The results from the Social Enterprise report and joined capacities from all the stakeholders that were present will surely open new doors for those looking to venture into entrepreneurship.

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