E-Nation Symposium: Malaysia's social entrepreneurship at very early stages

  • Social entrepreneurship today akin to where startup ecosystem was 7 years ago
  • Startups and the gig economy to shape the future of economy and workforce

E-Nation Symposium: Malaysia's social entrepreneurship at very early stages

In the spirit of building an entrepreneurial nation, the E-nation Symposium hosted a panel session on 'Driving the Future of Entrepreneurship', flanked by five panelists - Dzuleira Abu Bakar; chief executive officer, Malaysia Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC); Norhizam Kadir, vice president, startup ecosystem, Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC); Phillip Rao, partner advisory services and programme director, EY Malaysia; Olivier Legrand, managing director LinkedIn Asia Pacific; and KK Chua the founder of Armani Media Group.

The session, moderated by Tristan Ace, the global lead of partnerships and development of the British Council, kicked off with Dzuleira describing MaGIC's significant goal of driving the social entrepreneurship agenda. "From a policy standpoint, what we are trying to do is create more awareness about social entrepreneurship in general."

[Paragraph edited for accuracy. An earlier version had the wrong name for Tristan Ace.]

She candidly said: "In Malaysia, the state of social entrepreneurship is probably where the startup scene was, perhaps, seven to ten years ago. We still are in the very, very early stages."

This lag behind many of the other countries in the region is not due to lack of entrepreneurial passion, she believes, but rather the missing link in policies to help social entrepreneurship flourish.

Launched in April 2019 under the purview of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development, social enterprises can apply for national certification through the Social Enterprise Accreditation (SE.A) programme, to aid them in accessing support and opportunities which "potentially include tax benefits" in the future.

Meanwhile, from a workforce perspective, Olivier shared key trends and LinkedIn's role in bridging the talent mismatch. Speaking about the gig economy, he said 70 percent of startup employees in Malaysia are millennials. "Milennials have a very different relationship with work. They think about the purpose of the companies and how they are aligned to it."

At a time where technical skills are highly sought after, those who possess these skills are at the liberty to choose whether to work for an organisation or be a part of the gig economy. "Companies will have to adopt to this and create the structure and culture to have within their organisations people who are gig workers, as opposed to permanent workers."

As for MDEC, Norhizam talked about its focus on tech startups. "We realise that these tech startups are the ones that will be changing the landscape ten years down the road," he said, highlighting iflix's presence in about 38 markets in a span of six years - a feat which he believes was achieved through the power of the Internet economy and would not have been possible 40 years ago.

Phillip, who runs the the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards in Malaysia, also pointed out the shifting culture of entrepreneurship and huge opportunities available "with organisations like MDEC and Magic promoting access to ideas, technology and funding." He emphasised on the "power of three" with entreprenuers, government and the private sector working together to grow the entrepreneurship agenda.


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