Saturday, May 18, 2024

Encourage entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship skills and knowledge are a prerequisite to the social and economic growth of any nation. People with higher skill standards adjust more effectively to changes influenced by overwhelming waves of globalization. Our state is currently grappling with the critical challenge of how best to skill its population, troubled economy and a dismal state of socio-political affairs. It is a state simmering with colossal dissatisfaction, a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living. We are a state where majority of the youth population are marginalized in every sphere of society – from the home front, education, career and to business. Although the last few years has seen a handful of our youth enter the realm of business, technology and entrepreneurship in the state, there is still a deep void to be filled as far as diversity for general economic progress is concerned. An entrepreneurial culture is an environment where someone is motivated to innovate, create and take risks. When considering the entrepreneurial culture of the state as a whole, there are plenty of individuals with plenty of ideas, but these parties are still held back by lack of finance, advice, guidance, information and education on entrepreneurship in general. In our society the role of traditional professions such as being a government servant, a doctor, lawyer, engineer or accountant are still widely considered to be more secure and stable as and when compared to feeding the dreams of a budding entrepreneur with lots of potential. Hence, the need for creating awareness to change the perception among the masses of the role of an entrepreneur in the society. As technology, literacy, success stories, case studies and overall awareness about the benefits of being an entrepreneur are shared far and wide, only then we can consider the entrepreneurial culture of the state will begin to expand and develop in the future. As stated, state entrepreneurs have very innovative ideas and valuable business plans which could easily be converted into successful businesses, but unfortunately there is no good mechanism to encourage them. Starting a business in our state is harder than in other states, as it is difficult to get financial assistance from state or private banks for new businesses due to high interest rates as well as the long and numerous procedures required to start a new business. Further finding sureties and guarantees are also problems for many SMEs. There is also the issue of numerous taxes to be paid to different organizations. On the other hand, most parents have a strong resistance to promote or encourage their children to be entrepreneurs due to the perceived social recognition and interpretation that entrepreneurs are less educated and acknowledged than professionals or government servants. Besides, our education system does not take steps to promote and encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and innovative thinking. The prevailing education system does not promote or support entrepreneurship to such an extent instead it aims at producing best employees. It is even expected to produce employable graduates within the higher education sector. Sure, there is several public, non-profit and private entrepreneurship education or training programmes that are available in the state. But they primarily target at low and middle income rural people who can start traditional micro or small enterprises. These education or training programmes are sadly not directed towards opportunity driven and innovative entrepreneurs who are in desperate need of technology, finance and general assistance. And this is mainly due to how entrepreneurship in the state is generally associated with self-employment or owning a small business, which does not match the dynamic concept of entrepreneurship as a driver of innovation, creativity and value creation. In addition, universities do not get involve in offering knowledge and cultivate the necessary skills and techniques to connect students from various fields to create ventures. Introducing such concepts into our education system will serve to reduce barriers and issues related to commencing entrepreneurial ventures. Clearly the administrative machinery needs to buckle up. Reaping our demographic dividend in a manner that truly empowers people and equips them with the skills necessary for equitable market access is a significant challenge that needs scrutiny, reform and effective political will. Without skills, the youth won’t have the jobs, and without jobs, we risks turning our demographic dividend into a demographic disaster.