All industry associations face same chasm
More need to step up, contribute to ecosystem
[Updated with correct positions of TeAM council and additional members]
WHAT this past Monday’s Technopreneur Association of Malaysia’s (TeAM) annual general meeting (AGM) lacked in attendance, was more than made up for by the passion of those attending and giving their opinions on how the 13-year-old association can remain relevant.
There was also much hand-wringing over TeAM’s inability to reach out to and connect with Gen Y entrepreneurs -- a reality that stares you in the face when you look at the current TeAM council where every council member, bar one, is above 40, with some in their 50s.
Council members clearly feel the urgency to groom successors so that they may leave the association, set up by tech entrepreneurs for tech entrepreneurs, in good hands. As it is, because of the lack of interest in the association, the current crop of leaders has stayed on for another term.
Not surprising then that this need to connect to Gen Y seemed to be a key issue among those who attended the sparsely attended AGM.
Suggestions were a-plenty, from organising awards to organising sports activities or networking events as a way to break the barriers, ease communications and build trust.
But members were also reminded that the problems TeAM faces in engaging with Gen Y are not unique to TeAM. Every association out there is facing the same challenge of engaging with Gen Y (widely referred to as those born between the 1980s and mid-1990s).
The question for TeAM is this then. Despite unsuccessful past attempts to engage with Gen Y entrepreneurs, why still expend time and energy on this specific group?
As Digital News Asia’s (DNA) Digerati50 publication showed, the more interesting entrepreneurs in the ecosystem here seem to be those above their mid-30s, our Baby Boomers and Gen X, of which DNA founders are members. That is a big enough constituency to serve, to engage with, and to bring value to.
And TeAM’s biggest strength, its ability to engage with policy-makers and its credibility with them, actually cuts across generational boundaries. The associations regularly contributes to policy matters that, when implemented, benefit all entrepreneurs.
Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, an agency that has touched and benefited close to 1,000 companies since its birth in 2003, was actually the result of a TeAM white paper in 2001.
The most recent example was when TeAM took up the issue of MSC-location requirements with Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), the agency in charge of the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC Malaysia) project. Look out for impending changes here, thanks to its efforts.
So I don’t think the association itself needs to change much, but I agree, as do the current committee members, that more must be done to deepen the relationship between TeAM and tech entrepreneurs and selected agencies where greater engagement will benefit both sides.
This demands time and this demands more of us to step up.
I see passion in the current crop of council members who are stepping up to run the organisation, despite the time commitments it demands. These are all busy entrepreneurs trying to grow their companies and realise their dreams, but they also realise that there is an equally important responsibility to the ecosystem that is forming, and it demands time and attention too.
They have stepped up to give their time and energy. The rest of us need to step up too. The ecosystem, irrespective of generation, will be the better for it.
For the record, the 2013 committee has remained on for another year and are:
Dhakshinamoorthy Balakrishnan as President
Mohd Azlan Mohd Yaacob, Deputy President 1
Low Huoi Seong, Deputy President 2
Koh Lee Ching, Honorary Secretary
Fadzli Shah Anuar, Honorary Treasurer
Dr V. Sivapalan, Policy Institute
Renuka Sena, Community Programs
Nazrin Hassan, Community Programs
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