It’s often been said that entrepreneurs and SMEs make up the backbone of Malaysia, so besides only technical skills, having entrepreneurial skills is an advantage in this increasingly competitive terrain.
One way to get a sure-fire head start is to start honing those skills when young, something that is often echoed by industry leaders and educational institutions nowadays.
The good news is that it’s not just all talk and no action, since there are already several programmes available in Malaysia that are targeted towards teaching children and youths entrepreneurship.
As we scoured the web, we found 6 such organisations and programmes, all dedicated to youngsters of various age ranges, so here they are in alphabetical order for your reading pleasure.
Launched in 2015, Ascendance is a social enterprise and youth movement that creates programmes for youths, by youths.
Yes, its 4 founders are still youths themselves, with the youngest being 17 and the oldest being 22.
Recently, they held their first-ever Gen Z-led conference for 8 to 19-year-olds called the New Age Learner conference where they had over 400 students and 100 parents and teachers present, alongside 16 corporate partners and various other parties.
Rather than focus only on entrepreneurship, Ascendance’s aim is to guide youths towards holistic success and beneficial contributions to society. This is done in 3 phases:
- Phase 1: Awareness, whereby youths are taught how to do goal-setting and realise their potential;
- Phase 2: Personal Development, where Ascendance works with youths and provides opportunities, resources and experiences through weekly workshops and learning sessions;
- Phase 3: Startup & Business Development, where participants will form teams, projects and social initiatives, mentored by the team as well as CEOs and investors in the field.
As the projects progress, these teams enter the commercialisation stages and become full fledged youth-run startups.
Started in 2018 by a team of passionate coaches, Educashion’s entrepreneurship programme for kids and youths is a solution based approach through games.
It teaches them business and financial literacy through workshops and entrepreneur camps, utilising experiential and simulated games that show concepts instead of simply telling.
The way fundamental knowledge on entrepreneurship is provided is simplified enough for the kids to understand it too, and one proud parent said that their kids have now begun using business terminology in everyday conversations.
One of the events Educashion just held was the Kids On Biz Marketplace where 100 of their students set up businesses and shared their ideas, all while dressed the part.
Not only does what Educashion do help kids excel academically, but it also opens up the kids’ perspective to potential suitable careers in the future.
MyCEO, which also stands for Malaysia Children Entrepreneurship Orientation programme, does pretty much what its name says.
One of their latest programmes is called Kelab CEO Junior (KCJ), and it’s designed specifically for kindergarten students aged 5 to 7.
It aims to provide early exposure to financial education and entrepreneurship concepts using learn through play methods.
Its structure is made up of 4 modules: financial literacy, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and business practicals.
The programme spans over 11 months where students will go through 40 sessions that last 1.5 hours each, and they’ll get 1 class a week too.
4. Startup School Asia
Startup School Asia (SSA) is a venture by the founders of Startup Malaysia to help young children up to the age of 17 understand the world of technology, design thinking and entrepreneurship.
They run a series of weekend and school holiday programmes as well as customised ones, and the content of the overall programme rests on 2 key ideas: every problem is an opportunity, and entrepreneurs do a lot more with a lot less.
The structure of the programmes are ideation, validation, building, and then pitching, and overall it focuses on hands-on and experiential learning.
The 3 programmes currently available by SSA are E-Lab, Code Studio, and Design Den.
5. Talent Developing Society
TDS works in 5 stages:
- Holding workshops to discover talents,
- Grouping talents according to interest and skills,
- Providing guidance on building up talents,
- Submitting projects to multiple competitions or entrepreneurship awards,
- Turning talents into a student of scholarship or an entrepreneur.
For Entrepreneur Kids Of Malaysia, kids are encouraged to create products or research a retail item made from recycled materials to sell, which in a nutshell is to create a business plan.
Each child is further encouraged to sell their products to local shops, and this free programme takes kids through simple training to ensure they understand the basics of entrepreneurship.
The children also get to keep the proceeds from the sale of the items and services.
Zero2Maker (Z2M) is a programme had its pilot in Kedah in May 2019 where 60 students and 20 teachers from 10 schools in Kedah participated.
It was a 3-day workshop where students went through experiential learning to stimulate creativity, technical skills, communication abilities, and self-confidence.
They also got to learn interactive activities that covered the basics of creativity, design, and product fabrication.
Following the success of the pilot, Asia School of Business (ASB) plans to use it as a model to scale the initiative to other schools in the state and neighbouring countries.
As its partner, MaGIC also provided 10 units of Z2M ‘Makerlab In A Box’ starter kits that contained tools like 3D printers, electronic supplies and other materials for the students to kickstart a maker lab in their respective schools.
So there you go, these are just some programmes that are offering to teach our Malaysian youths entrepreneurial skills to prepare them for our future as an entrepreneurial nation.
However, these programmes will only function if there are students who attend them, so parents still need to take the initiative and sign their children up for them.
As a young child, I had barely even heard of the word ‘entrepreneur’ before, but as an adult, I can definitely see the value of inculcating entrepreneurial skills in our youths because I believe that even if they don’t all turn out to be entrepreneurs, those soft skills they gain from the programmes will be extremely beneficial in general.
Featured Image Credit: Educashion