The startup sphere is a vibrant ecosystem, but it can be at risk of stagnation or regression; whether as part of a natural cycle or external circumstances.
However, knowing that it could happen doesn’t mean taking a step back and watch it flounder.
Instead, at a press conference at the MaGIC Academy 2016 (MA2016) yesterday, Ashran Dato’ Ghazi the CEO of MaGIC and Ehon Chan the Executive Director of Social Entrepreneurship shared some steps that should be taken to further advance entrepreneurship in Malaysia.
1. Get Big Corporations Involved With Development Of Entrepreneurship
Ashran hopes to get more corporates on board with contributing to the development of new entrepreneurs and startups.
This will not be just on a short term basis. According to him, a long term commitment ensures that there is an alignment of objectives.
“Sector players, be it in healthcare or fashion, may not be too savvy about entrepreneur development,” said Ashran. “We’re looking at harnessing the structures that we have and tweaking our interactions with stakeholders and beneficiaries, who are generally entrepreneurs.”
He clarified that the involvement of the corporate bodies is not from a purely social point of view, but instead, they will realise they are doing good while also benefiting their organisations.
MaGIC is also working on an initiative named Corporate Entrepreneurs Responsibility which was announced in the budget last year by the Prime Minister. The CER is meant to get private sectors to be more involved in entrepreneurship development.
2. Bring About Proper Certification Of Social Entrepreneurs
A certification of social entrepreneurs will allow the “true blue social enterprises” to be recognised, though they did not elaborate on what would qualify current social enterprises for that certification.
“We want to close the loop on trying to get incentives because social entrepreneurs are actually doing the nation good. How can we catalyse that further so that, from the government’s point of view, a dollar spent will get a better yield? But we also don’t want people to misuse that, and hence the procurement policy and certification policy will come hand in hand,” said Ashran.
This certification will allow corporations who wish to work together with startups be confident that they are supporting the right group and cause, with the proper qualifications.
3. Expose The Local Entrepreneurs To Innovative Ideas
The social enterprise track speakers at MA2016 were brought in based on the creativity they displayed when carrying out their ideas, in contrast with the focus on skills that was present last year. Ehon shared, “This year is about exposing them to the very different and innovative ideas that people are doing all around the world.”
It’s not just about knowing that there’s a great idea out in the world and copying it exactly down pat to be applied here in Malaysia. Localisation is a key factor to the success of a product or service. This is where the corporate mentors and partners mentioned earlier can come in to help the burgeoning startups with their advice, experience and maybe even funding.
4. Inspire Communities To Come Up With Unique Localised Solutions
Looking back over the past few years, Ashran was candid in admitting that he thinks the ecosystem has been doing well, with new ideas being built up and plenty of new entrepreneurs emerging. However, he found ideas within the region flatlining. The same old ideas are coming up, and the worry is that the ideas will not just flatline—they will dip.
One goal of MA2016 is to expose the attendees not just to new ideas but to spark in them the thought, “What will the future of entrepreneurship look like? What opportunities can appear from the emerging trends?”
He stated that he has no issues with entrepreneurs looking at other startups around the world and adapting & scaling their ideas to be applied in Malaysia. However, from a nation building point of view, there should be the push to “catalyse the community to make sure that they are churning out new ideas that could transform various sectors”.
5. Partner Corporations With Startups To Solve Problems Together
MaGIC is also actively looking to see how corporates or even sectors of economy can go about solving problems via startups.
They want to harness the youth who have the mental viewpoint that anything is possible then combine that energy with the corporates, who have the depth the bridge the gap of knowledge but lack the fresh perspective to innovate and change. As Ashran said, “When you’re in an industry for so long, you tend to have mental fixedness.”
The youth would not be so exposed to the problems of the sector which the corporates will have experienced and dealt with.
Ashran believes that this combination can bring about bring about startups that can effectively and efficiently solve problems. For instance, big corporations might not be able to move agilely or fast enough to adapt to changing markets. A startup or social enterprise would be able to move and create products or services for that new market.
This presents a new opportunity to the corporates that they might not have otherwise had. The startups might not have the resources to carry out their ideas, and that’s where the corporates can work together with them.
Thus far, the corporates that MaGIC has engaged with have all expressed interest in such partnerships, which bodes well for the future. Their desire of wanting to be closer to the startup community seems to be a step in the right direction.
Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) aims to build a Sustainable Entrepreneurship Ecosystem by catalysing creativity & innovation for long term nation impact. For its third installment, MaGIC Academy (#MA2016) has gathered serial entrepreneurs, founders, philanthropists, investors, corporate leaders and startup enthusiasts from across the globe. You can follow MaGIC on Instagram and Twitter for live feeds of the symposium: @magic_cyberjaya