Spurring Undergraduates To Develop Entrepreneurial Spirit

By Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 (Bernama) -- Nur 'Atieqah Mohd Zainudin is one enterprising young lady.

Currently doing her master's programme in psychology at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjung Malim, Perak, the 26-year-old is also trying her hand at business and has an online shop selling apparel for Muslims and pilgrims performing the umrah.

Whenever the opportunity arises, she also sets up stalls to sell her goods at carnivals and other public events.

Her business generates an income of about RM1,000 to RM2,000 a month which may seem like a paltry sum but Nur 'Atieqah is not demoralised.

"I've always been interested in business, thanks to the influence of my mother who used to work hard at her business whilst working in a factory," she told Bernama.

She said many Malaysian women have also made it big in business and their success was a source of inspiration to her.

"Even Prophet Muhammad's wife Siti Khadijah was a successful entrepreneur," said Nur 'Atieqah, who is married and has a one-year-old son.

There is no excuse for young people like her to sit idly by whilst waiting for job offers to come to them, she said, adding that they should, by right, seize the various opportunities provided by the government to improve their standard of living and promote entrepreneurship among the younger generation.

GOOD START FOR STUDENTS

Nur 'Atieqah said she herself had benefited from the Ministry of Higher Education's MyBrain15 programme, which is among the government's initiatives to enable graduates who have yet to find employment to improve their knowledge and skills so that they are better prepared to face the dynamic economic landscape.

"I'm thankful for the (MyBrain15) programme because if not for the financial assistance I received from the government, I would have had to take a loan to complete my (post-graduate) studies," she added.

In a move to encourage more undergraduates to start their own business ventures, the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM or Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia) implemented the 1Student 1Business scheme on Jan 1 this year.

Under the scheme, all students from public or private institutions of higher learning are exempted from all business registration charges (under the Registration of Business Act 1956) if they register they businesses with SSM.

Nur 'Atieqah said she took advantage of this offer in February when she registered her company, Atieq Exclusive, with SSM.

She believed the scheme was a good start for students who wish to pursue their interest in running their own enterprises.

"Once the company is registered with SSM, the student's mindset becomes more focused and serious about getting the business going," she said.

Nur 'Atieqah, however, cautioned undergraduates not to get carried away by their business pursuits and, thus neglect their studies.

Citing her own experience, she said she always gave priority to her coursework, research and thesis, and only attended to her online business when she was free.

"As a matter of fact, I've noticed that business gets better for me when I'm busy with my studies because that's the time when my motivation level hits a high note."

BUSINESS SUPPORT FOR UNDERGRADUATES

The 1Student 1Business scheme was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Dec 4 last year. He also announced an RM10 million grant over a 10-year period for the scheme.

According to SSM chief executive officer Datuk Zahrah Abd Wahab Fenner, a total of 10,620 students registered their businesses under the scheme as of January. Out of the number, 5,945 were women, with most of their businesses focusing on cosmetics, food and fashion.

Noting that many people, especially the younger generation, were dabbling in online businesses, the commission introduced the SSM BizTrust platform to enable online business entities to obtain certification in the form of a logo or seal that can be displayed on their business websites, which would bolster customers' confidence in the authenticity of the businesses concerned.

As of March, more than 47,198 online entrepreneurs had obtained the certification from SSM.

Earlier this year, the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, in collaboration with Coca-Cola Malaysia, launched the Coca-Cola Community Entrepreneurs (Coca-ColaKU) programme to empower micro entrepreneurs, particularly women and university students.

Under the programme, the beverage company will provide training in essential areas like starting a business, managing income and expenses, managing cash flow and credit, and managing quality and service.

The ministry, on its part, will provide consultation on business regulations and micro-financing. This year alone, the programme is targeting 14,000 participants.

VARIOUS SCHEMES TO HELP ENTREPRENEURS

Various other initiatives have also been launched by the government to empower entrepreneurs. The initiatives, conceived under the National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs), are implemented by the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism or other agencies.

The initiatives include the Small Retailers Transformation (Tukar), Modernisation of Auto Workshops (Atom), 1Malaysia People's Shop (KR1M) and 1Malaysia People's Menu programmes.

According to ministry statistics, 302 sundry shops benefited from Tukar in 2015.

Under the programme, owners of small sundry shops are given the opportunity to modernise and expand their operations to make them more competitive.

Under Atom, a total of 188 workshops were upgraded in 2015, thus enabling their operators to generate higher incomes.

Meanwhile, government policies implemented under the Economic Transformation Programme and National Transformation Programme have succeeded in creating 1.8 million jobs for youths between 2010 and 2016.

-- BERNAMA