Planning and Sustainability Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie is calling on budding entrepreneurs to adopt the right attitude if they are to realise success in commercial endeavours. He said while entrepreneurship can be taught, the behavioural component could very well determine the eventual outcome of the business venue, especially if it’s to be successful. “Entrepreneurship refers to attitudes or characteristics that can be shaped, directed and fostered. Creativity, orientation to opportunity and resilience can all be described as fundamental elements of the entrepreneurial spirit. Entrepreneurship and enterprise education are made up of kinds of experiences that give students a vision of how to access and transform opportunities of different kinds by using these skills,” Tewarie said.
Tewarie was delivering the feature address at Tuesday’s Entrepreneurship in Education conference hosted by CME Consulting and held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel, Dock Road, Port-of-Spain. “The entrepreneurs will not only generate private returns, but as a part of society, will also bring new ideas, methods and objects for the welfare of the society. Indeed, entrepreneurial. As we seek to refine our education system to foster innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, we must be cognisant of the type of entrepreneur that we wish to nurture. “In the economic paradigm of today, labour is internationally mobile, existing jobs are becoming obsolete and new occupations require greater knowledge skills and adaptability from workers due to rapid globalisation and technological change. “Ultimately, the global economic system now rewards knowledge, enterprise, creativity and adaptability,” Tewarie said.
He added: “Given T&T’s relatively small size and high unit cost, we are unlikely to compete in entrepreneurs from mass producing countries such as China and India. Instead, our entrepreneurs must strive to develop products and services of higher value, competing on the basis of quality, value and innovation. “Our entrepreneurs must not be stagnant, but must continuously improve and innovate; an attitudinal trait that should be encouraged at all levels of the education.” Tewarie described Singapore as having a highly educated population and was known as an entrepreneurial hub. The country’s successful development, Tewarie said, rests largely on its ability to ignite regional thought leadership, include entrepreneurship education at all levels, attract and anchor foreign entrepreneurs and promote enterprise incubation. Tewarie said the community’s involvement can lead to innovations geared to the local environment.
He cited the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) Enterprise Programme in the United States, which targets high school students in rural areas by linking education with rural economic development. Through that initiative, young people are able to identify a business opportunity or utilising untapped opportunities in the local economy. The preparation of a business plan was done in the classroom and on leaving, they put their ideas into practice. “A survey of 400 REAL graduates from 1992-1998 conducted in 1998 showed their business expanded, reaching a total volume of sales of US$6 million and creating 686 new jobs. “In T&T, there are several programmes that seek to address the needs of small and medium-scale entrepreneurs through the provision of financial and managerial support.
“For example, the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Ltd (Nedco) was established in 2002 as the implementing agency for Government’s policy on small and micro enterprise development. “It also provides specialised training programmes developed to build entrepreneurial success.” Tewarie added: “The results for entrepreneurial education will not materialise overnight. Instead, they are likely to be realised in the medium- to longer-term through the creation of new viable business ventures across a wide spectrum of sectors, from agriculture to ICT. “New businesses will provide a T&T brand that is regionally, as well as globally recognised. Even if individuals do not start up their own business, they are likely to be more motivated and productive workers, overcoming a major weakness in our current business environment.”