GEM founder, Irwan Serigar, man in a hurry

  • Targets to see seven new initiatives launched in 2018
  • Commits future to GEM after retirement, full-time role possible


GEM founder, Irwan Serigar, man in a hurry


TO SAY that Mohd Irwan Serigar is a man in a hurry is an understatement. At the second anniversary celebration of the Global Entrepreneurship Movement (GEM) on March 7, the patron and founder of GEM spontaneously added seven new programmes to its existing ones that he wants GEM to execute this year.

And yes, the look of astonishment on the face of GEM’s executive director, Low Ngai Yuen, was priceless.

Those initiatives are:

  • Expand the international GEM city chapters from the current 22 countries to 50 countries by end 2018.
  • Launch an entrepreneurship show/channel on TV
  • Expand the streaming radio channel, eFM to a full-fledged radio station
  • Launch a GEM startup programme to help those at the idea stage 
  • Launch a GEM intervention programme to help solve problems for and empower rural communities, especially the youth.
  • Launch the GEM office at the upcoming Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship township;
  • Raise the standard of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference to that of the World Economic Forum

But deliver, Low must, and that includes the large GEM Council as well. As Irwan said during his speech, when he gives someone a task, they have to execute it or leave. “That’s my style,” says the hard driving Irwan whose full-time role is as secretary-general for the Ministry of Finance.

Having created GEM with the dream of democratising entrepreneurship, Irwan is in a hurry to see this democratisation crystalise. And where he exerts any influence over the deliverables, he is really pushing it.

For example, the contractor for the Blue Ocean Entrepreneurship township has six months to get it ready. Also given six months is a public university that has been tasked with building Malaysia’s own autonomous vehicle with Irwan hopeful that these can be the taxi of the future in Malaysia.

Still relying on academia, he has also given two academics a RM4 million grant with the mandate to build a functioning walking robot to stand by his side when he speaks at the opening of the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Conference in December.

“I am not telling stories, these are not dreams, you can be and do anything you want – with hard work we will make them a reality,” he thundered, getting caught up in the moment and promising to give the boot to those who cannot deliver.

Need to change drives sense of urgency

His sense of urgency also comes from his belief that for Malaysia to survive and thrive in the future, “you need a huge number of entrepreneurs because some will fail, some will succeed, and we need to nurture the successful ones with programmes like our TENxCLUB, where we want to bring them from their current revenue base to growing it by 10 to 20 times,” he explains.

He also believes that working with younger entrepreneurs makes it easier to bring about change to Malaysia to help it adapt and compete in the future when the world will be a different place, industries will be different.

“We have heard the Kodak and Nokia stories, where big corporations became irrelevant. These are big corporations, made money, but not fast enough to adapt. With the younger set of entrepreneurs, they will be part of the next generation that is going to drive Malaysia forward and they need to put into their mindset that change is one of the big things if you want to continue business and be successful.”

And Irwan, through GEM, hopes to be an anchor entrepreneurs can rely on while committing his future to GEM. “What I tell myself is that even when I am retired, I will still be doing work with GEM – maybe even be full-time.”


Related Stories:
6 startups chosen to spearhead growth as TENxCLUB fellows
Entrepreneurship to shape the future of industries
GEM creates regional links, launches global challenge for Asean


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