As our communication and access to technology have vastly improved, we begin to see easier and faster ways to carry out our daily routines. Just a decade ago, we need to place a phone call in order for us to get a taxi ride. Today, taxi ride is just few taps away and it requires only a smartphone with internet connection. Our home-grown mobile app for taxi booking, Grab (formerly known as MyTeksi), operates by utilizing existing taxi fleet while giving us assurance in terms of safety and fare guarantee compared to previous system. However, anyone familiar with Uber will tell us Uber exists much longer before Grab does but it was not available in Malaysia. This statement raises a doubt among us – whether we are capable of coming out with our own innovative ideas or not. I beg to differ as the process requires entrepreneurs to do thorough planning to execute any idea within local context. Difference in terms of laws and demographics of the society needs strong entrepreneurial spirit for global ideas to turn into reality at a local arena.
After being under foreign occupation of almost five centuries, we were left to be heavily reliant towards other countries with bigger economic power, especially in terms of technology and workforce expertise. While Malacca was once a major shipping hub, connecting traders and entrepreneurs across the world, the region is no longer what it used to be during fifteenth century. We were even made to believe by foreign powers that we are not capable of managing our own country. At that time, apart from mining, agriculture played important role in fuelling our economic growth. Guthrie, a major foreign plantations company in Malaysia used to own about 200,000 acres of agricultural land. Malaysian government at that time decided to return the ownership back to locals and engineered a raid to take over the company in 1981. The historic “Dawn Raid” at London Stock Exchange became a huge success in our process to move towards self-governance. Eventually, by end of the same year, Guthrie became 100% locally-owned. When the company is locally-owned, it opened many opportunities for local entrepreneurs to expand their businesses due to their absence of reliance towards foreign entities for business operations.
Decades later, we found out that agriculture alone is not economically sustainable for our long-term growth. Therefore, we began to focus more on manufacturing, hence the birth of our first national car model, Proton Saga, in 1985. The establishment of Proton has opened thousands of job opportunities for their respective manufacturing facilities as well as a number of other local vendor of car parts and accessories. While we were paving our way towards an industrialized nation, we see the increasing need for technological advancement. The quick solution was to bring in experts from abroad while we take time to develop our own talents. The number of learning institutions mushroomed and more emphasis was put into developing human capital with necessary entrepreneurial skills. Government agencies such as Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) plays a major role in shaping the future of entrepreneurship in the country. Through its education institutions such as MARA Junior Science College (MRSM), GiatMARA College and many others, students are being exposed towards various entrepreneurship opportunities in order for the country to move forward while being economically sustainable.
Due to substantial growth of technological advancement, access to entrepreneurship resources is now easier than before. Globalization has made us more aware of ever-growing needs of society and entrepreneurs are becoming better in exploring opportunities to revolutionize our world. Entrepreneurs make full use of the opportunity and continuously improve product and service offering to customers. There is a great need for us to continue our passion towards entrepreneurship with the new, more technologically-advanced approach. Back then in the old days, Malay traditional clothing items such as baju kurung and tudung were sold mostly at retail outlets. Today, we can easily find such items online and many of the vendors do not even have any physical retail shop. This is one of the examples on how entrepreneurs can apply new approach in carrying out their existing business.
Looking at our potential from entrepreneurship perspective, we have a glorious history to begin with. We were once a popular hub for traders and entrepreneurs and we are also one of very few developing countries that managed to come up with advanced automotive industry. This shows how entrepreneurship is deeply embedded within our culture. Therefore, we are culturally fit to be successful entrepreneurs. The shift in the economic approach has been highlighted by our Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Mohd Najib during one of his event speech last year. During the speech, he said that in order for us to move forward to become a developed country, we need to evolve into an innovation and knowledge-based economy. Therefore, highly-motivated entrepreneurs are needed to drive our economy forward to achieve a developed country status.
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