Budget 2020 is on everyone’s mind, and in a widely supported move, over RM1 billion has been allocated to the boosting of entrepreneurship in Malaysia.
For anyone keeping their eye on the local ecosystem, you’d know one of the players to watch is the Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC).
MaGIC works to support the growth of entrepreneurship in Malaysia and create sustainable ecosystem development through creativity and innovation.
We had a chance to interview Dzuleira Abu Bakar, the CEO of MaGIC, to get her latest thoughts on entrepreneurship in Malaysia and what MaGIC is working towards.
Getting The Building Bricks In Place
Dzuleira feels that we already have the right foundation to build a bigger future on.
“Our local ecosystem represents the diversity of our nation. From language to culture, with a population that is not too big nor too small, we have a good mix of all elements needed to support growth and scale of any type of business be it tech startups or traditional businesses such as F&B. Those elements are both an advantage as well as what inspires me to achieve more with the local ecosystem,” she said.
But she also sees things that do have to change, to allow for accelerated growth.
“I am a firm believer that a mindset shift is one of the most important things entrepreneurs must possess, which I also find lacking in some of our local entrepreneurs,” she said. “I mean this in various aspects—digital-first mindset, a go-global mindset, an opportunity-viewing mindset, a forward-thinking mindset, amongst others.”
Another major gap she sees is in mentorship.
“Malaysian entrepreneurs find it difficult to connect with mentors who best understand their scope of business or industry especially in an industry that is relatively new to a nation,” she said.
Entrepreneurs lose out, because mentors act not only as sounding boards, but also at times knowledge banks, advisors, connectors and more. These mentors often end up being investors or business angels to these entrepreneurs.
To address this, MaGIC provides a mentorship service to fast track an entrepreneurs’ journey by allowing them to gain fresh perspective, advice and tips from mentors, advisors and skilled entrepreneurs.
The Pillars Of The Nation
MaGIC’s upcoming Entrepreneurial Nation (E-Nation) Symposium 2019 is organised in line with their overarching objectives, but you might notice that the sessions are built around 6 key topic pillars—Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Education, Policy, Corporate Innovation and Creative.
First, let’s get down to the meat each pillar. What does each one even mean?
Entrepreneurship will dive into some of the most pressing issues and challenges that entrepreneurs today face.
Seasoned entrepreneurs will be on hand to share their journeys and how they were able to create solutions that solve actual problems and pain-points.
You also shouldn’t overlook the potential lucrativeness of Social Entrepreneurship, even though its primary focus is on the elevation of society and the environment through radical change.
It can solve some of the nation’s most pressing issues yet remain profitable for the business owners.
And MaGIC’s just received a RM10 million allocation from Budget 2020 to continue in its quest to support the growth of social enterprises.
Education is not just about educating entrepreneurs; instead, it’s about developing entrepreneurial competencies to equip the students of today to face challenges of tomorrow effectively.
You can’t talk about entrepreneurship and innovation without thinking about Policy. Without a conducive environment that is intentionally created by the governing bodies, businesses and startups will find it difficult to innovate and adopt new technologies.
Speaking of adopting new technologies, a focus on Corporate Innovation allows the behemoths of the private and public sector to capitalise disruptive technologies and build continuous innovation pipelines.
Finally, there’s the Creative aspect. Creative arts and current technologies are disrupting the industry, and this needs to continue.
As shared by Dzuleira, “All 6 pillars are integral in forming a strong foundation in becoming an entrepreneurial nation and are equally important.”
The 6 pillars detailed above were chosen based on demand and data. Thanks to their dialogue with the entrepreneurs who go through their various programmes and initiatives, Dzuleira believes that her team have gotten a fairly good idea of what now what business owners want as well as need.
The Vision For 2020 And Beyond
In the bigger picture, MaGIC envisions E-Nation as an annual and signature symposium.
“This way, there is always a follow-through from the active discussion we have ignited in the previous year. This will also help us in providing an indication of some of the developments we are creating for the ecosystem and how much more we need to do to attain an entrepreneurial nation status each year,” said Dzuleira.
And there is a heavy mandate that MaGIC carries, thanks to the launch of the National Entrepreneurship Policy (NEP) in July. The NEP aims to transform Malaysia into an entrepreneurial nation by 2030. As a key government body, MaGIC cannot rest on its laurels.
Dzuleira also has her own personal ambition for our country’s future in entrepreneurship development.
“My vision is for Malaysia to be on the global map of innovation, where this country will continue to produce and develop innovative startups and entrepreneurs,” she said.
“That said, I realise that it is no easy and linear task, it is one that requires commitment and cohesive effort which is certainly attainable. Entrepreneurship activities drive the economic growth of a nation, which means a vibrant startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem results in a thriving economy.”