Nurturing a Nation of Entrepreneurs... Beyond Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2013: Global Entrepreneurship Week 2013 was held recently, and several partners from the public and private sectors hosted a range of interesting activities which were all geared towards unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit that lies deep within the psyche of many people in T&T.
But now that the hype has subsided, one is tempted to ask the question; Now that GEW is over, what next? Whilst the week of activities may have ended, our quest to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs continues!
Overall, GEW produced 30 events hosted by 18 partners and with 2,371 participants. The primary objective of GEW is to sensitise the national community on the importance of entrepreneurship, in promoting economic activity, creating jobs and building communities.
As the official host of GEW in T&T, the management team of Youth Business T&T (YBTT) is of the firm view that we must continue the effort to host a range of entrepreneurial activities aimed at building and sustaining a strong ecosystem that will spawn a cadre of young innovators and entrepreneurs with a mindset that enables them to be more creative and innovative.
During GEW, it was clear that there was a demand, particularly amongst the youth, for knowledge and education relating to both new and existing business ventures.
Although YBTT has embarked on initiatives that will afford more young entrepreneurs start-up support for their business ventures, its scope is rather limited, and it is evident that there is need for both the private and public sectors to work together in order to build the entrepreneurial spirit and to encourage entrepreneurs to make the bold step to start up their own ventures.
As articulated in one of our earlier articles, the notion of entrepreneurship goes beyond the operation of a small business. It involves the willingness and determination on the part of the entrepreneur to undertake business ventures associated with innovation, wealth creation and risk.Indeed this sentiment was echoed in many of the speeches and presentations made by several leaders as they addressed audiences during GEW 2013. We are pleased to share with our readers a few quotes from some of them:
Minister of Planning
Senator the Honourable Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development, in delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony for GEW declared that "entrepreneurs play a life giving role in the transformation of low income traditional economies to modern economies. All over the world, they have led the change in the move towards the information age, digital technology and social enhancement by creating new technology or by innovating uses for old technology, and we are beginning now to see some of this happening in T&T."
He also articulated that "it was necessary for some existing businesses to transform in order to become more competitive, as the country needed new business creation which will make a positive difference to diversification and the growth and market opportunities in an interconnected global community."
He added that in T&T, between 2010 to 2012, 18,000 to 20,000 SMEs employed approximately 200,000 people and contributed 25 per cent of the GDP.
President of Amcham
In his presentation at the same event, Amcham's president, Hugh Howard, stated that "in transitioning ideas to invention and marketability, entrepreneurs must be willing to take risks." However, to ensure success, such risks must be buttressed by an enabling environment created by Government as one of the hallmarks of good governance.Howard further articulated that "the private sector also has an important role to play in facilitating the germination of the twin elements of entrepreneurship and innovation."
President of UTT
At the media launch which preceded the opening ceremony, President of UTT Prof Dyer Narinesingh stated that "investing in entrepreneurship education is one of the highest return investments a country can make. Surveys suggest that between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of students who participate in mini-company programmes in secondary schools, will later start their own company–a figure that is about three to five times that of the general population."
We need to pay tribute to those stakeholders who shared in the entrepreneurial vision by facilitating or hosting Gew events.
These include the University of T&T; Arthur Lok Jack GSB; Nedco; Junior Achievement, Amcham; BPD Associates Ltd; Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies; Conec Marketing & Financial Services Ltd; Council for Competitiveness and Innovation; Forward Multimedia, Inter-School/Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship; The Lily Foundation for Human Development (Tobago); T&T Foresight and Innovation Network; T&T Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club; We Are Better Youths Say YES (Waby); and Gerard Thomas the entrepreneur who introduced the internationally acclaimed Start Up Weekend and Start Up Grind to T&T.
YBTT is committed to continuing the work started even in advance of GEW 2013 and has, therefore, issued a call for its public and private sector partners to help them keep the GEW flame alight by supporting the various initiatives aimed at developing a cadre of entrepreneurs with sustainable youth businesses.
Sandrine Rattan is the project co-ordinator, Youth Business T&T.