Developing the asian entrepreneurship ecosystem

Leaders from four countries – India, Malaysia, Brunei and Pakistan – talk about the entrepreneurship ecosystem in their country and the areas of opportunities going forward. They also share their expectations from the CAAYE summit to be held in Mumbai from Dec 13-15, 2012


Please give us an overview of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in your country? What would you say are the top 5 sectors and opportunities going forward?


India is one of the most entrepreneurial economies in the world. The fact that 60 per cent to 70 per cent of India’s GDP is contributed by family-owned enterprises is evidence to the fact that entrepreneurship is thriving across most sectors of the Indian economy. However, the celebration of entrepreneurship and the development of a culture of innovation is lacking in many states. Developing risk-taking ability and entrepreneurship training with relevant education and skills can promote a can-do spirit, but, this process needs to begin from school itself. Thus, the need of the hour is micro-entrepreneurship, an essential growth driver with small but sustainable businesses being promoted and encouraged. Youth unemployment is an imminent social time bomb that can only be diffused by supporting the development of new entrepreneurship ventures especially in high growth areas like information technology, communication, services, hospitality and the knowledge sector. Other imperatives that will promote a better entrepreneurial culture include creation of a fair and transparent system for setting up new ventures, better and quicker access to finance at priority sector terms, improved infrastructure and market access for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).


With the help of government and societal leaders, Malaysia, a developing country with its own strengths and resources, has spurred the growth of young entrepreneurs who are keen on setting up their own businesses and becoming a part of the entrepreneurship ecosystem.  Results from a survey distributed to 6,488 Malaysian youth on Facebook shows that a whopping 95 per cent have got the passion to dwell into the entrepreneurial world, which is evidence to the fact that entrepreneurship ecosystem is not just a cut-and-paste exercise. The popularity of entrepreneurship programmes offered by many of our local universities is also a testament to it. I have great faith in these programmes, which comprise well-developed and well-structured training procedures, designed to meet the twin objectives of imparting awareness and creating knowledge on entrepreneurship among Malaysia’s youth. The ecosystem should operate in an environment where government policies support the unique needs of entrepreneurs and tolerate failed ventures as well as actively encourage and invite financiers to participate in new ventures. I believe that when universities, governments, entrepreneurs and other players are healthy in their own right, interact and capitalise on synergies between them, Malaysia will move forward and create a healthy and blooming entrepreneurial ecosystem. Today, it makes me proud to witness fresh graduates’ walk-up the stage to receive scrolls at their respective convocation ceremonies, with entrepreneurial values instilled in them. I wish, one day in the near future, many such graduates level up to the international standards of taking up entrepreneurship as their preferred career choice. The top five sectors which present such opportunities today are oil and gas, industry communication and technology, agriculture and logistic.


Brunei has witnessed a significant progress from 10 years ago, when the most sought after professions were in the public service or oil and gas industry. While it is still the case today, youngsters are increasingly also considering entrepreneurship as an alternative, especially after the establishment of the incubation centre- iCentre. The government, through several agencies such as the Brunei Economic Development Board, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, has developed several programmes to assist local entrepreneurs and SMEs at various stages of their development – either through financing, mentorship support, training or overseas networking exposure. Consequently, the private sector is also quickly trailing suit in supporting the development of local businesses. Therefore, I believe that Brunei is on track to create the right ecosystem to encourage the growth of entrepreneurship and start-ups. We just need to continue to create that culture of risk -taking and keep adapting and innovating, especially in terms of what works and what doesn’t work for us.

The top five sectors are oil and gas (this actually takes the first three spots), real estate, automobile, ICT and F&B.


Pakistan is on its way to understanding the importance of entrepreneurship for its economy. The society, by and large, has always had a trend to seek jobs, especially in public sector, because they were a source of stable income and such a culture was encouraged both at home and at educational institutions. Of late, this trend is witnessing a slow but prominent shift and the advent of technology is definitely contributing to this shift, to a large extent.

The educational system is being revamped to include more entrepreneurial driven courses and, the private sector businesses are encouraging and trying to help improve the ecosystem through CSR initiatives and advocacy. Technology, as mentioned earlier, is also helping becoming an entrepreneur easier, by removing many barriers faced by a conventional entrepreneur. The public sector is slow in responding to the immediate need to improve this eco-system, most importantly by removing unnecessary hurdles, but it is getting there surely.

Top five sectors: Technology, textiles, retail, logistics, services (including IT)

What are your expectations from the CAAYE Summit? How do you believe the various commonwealth Asian countries can collaborate to further develop the entrepreneurship ecosystems in the whole region?


The Commonwealth-Asia region has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, the irony is that, due to artificial barriers to trade and the prevailing regional political scenario, trade within our economies is extremely limited.

CAAYE has brought together leading youth organisations in eight countries, which have collective access to over 25,000 young entrepreneurs. Therefore, a web of networks is now in place for young entrepreneurs to connect and interact. Moreover, this year, the CAAYE Young entrepreneur Summit is bringing together 200 of the best and brightest young entrepreneurs from our economies for three days. The diversity of the delegations is so immense and the passion to connect is so strong that we are sure many young-in-business entrepreneurs will create lasting Business-to-Business connections before they depart from Mumbai. If the summit helps build business bridges while creating bonds of friendship across our borders, its purpose is served. Another major takeaway would be to see excellence in action in India’s financial capital – seeing entrepreneurs in diverse sectors create wealth while responsibly developing their own industries. These B2B linkages and sharing of best practices will certainly serve as catalysts for improving trade and increasing regional collaborations in Asia.


Being a part of the CAAYE Summit gives one an opportunity to interact with entrepreneurs, investors, academicians and policy makers, from eight commonwealth countries, and exchange experiences, learnings’ and best practices. CAAYE Summit also provides an excellent opportunity for networking and collaboration between parties on the international stage, in different countries.


I would like to see how other CAAYE member countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives, either individually or collectively, can fit into Brunei’s trading and collaboration map and vice versa.  I think collaboration has to come in at both levels – government-to-government and business-to-business.


CAAYE summit is an opportunity to highlight the importance of entrepreneurship for our region, where human capital, the essential ingredient for entrepreneurship, is abundant. Our organisations and CAAYE can act as platform to channelize the efforts for building an entrepreneurial ecosystem by engaging entrepreneurs, mentors, VCs, academia, and industry.

Furthermore, we are hoping to devise a platform where we can be heard by the policymakers of this region. We would like to make it a strong advocacy platform towards useful and implementable policies to encourage entrepreneurship and remove unreasonable trade barriers between the nations.

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