WHEN the Entrepreneurship Action Plan of Higher Education Institutions (2016-2020) was rolled out by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) two years ago, the idea behind it was to promote entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship development in institutions and instil entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviours into all students as well as those seeking to become graduate entrepreneurs.
The action plan has four initiatives based on two strategies under Shift 1 of the Malaysia Education Blue Print 2015-2020 (Higher Education), focusing on the development of students and system aspirations to produce holistic, balanced and entrepreneurial graduates.
The four initiatives include high impact education practices, a job creator framework, improving the student entrepreneur development support ecosystem and strengthening the entrepreneur teaching force competency.
Higher education institutions are encouraged to take part in the ministry’s Public-Private Research Network (PPRN) initiative that connects businesses and entrepreneurs with higher institutions to help develop innovative solutions to an existing problem through demand-driven research projects with rapid execution on a cost-effective basis.
This is in line with the target of 1,500 educators with entrepreneurship expertise to take on the role of advisers or mentors to student businesses and entrepreneurship projects as stipulated by the action plan.
The action plan also encourages students to become job creators instead of job seekers with a target of at least 15 per cent of students involved in entrepreneurship activities and at least five per cent of graduates choosing entrepreneurship as their career of choice by 2020.
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in Nilai, Negri Sembilan has embraced the action plan wholeheartedly, with efforts paying off.
Last month USIM won the Best Industry Engagement Award for the MOHE PPRN Awards in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the Global Entrepreneurship Community Summit 2017. It bested 25 institutions.
USIM — through its Centre of Students’ Entrepreneurship Development — continues to provide structured entrepreneurship training and centralised entrepreneurship programmes for its students.
“SHARK TANK” PROGRAMME
Last year USIM held a number of programmes and activities to boost entrepreneurship among its student community. The courses were either organised in collaboration with industry partners or involved academicians as siswapreneur mentors.
The initiatives include Hands-on Programme of Entrepreneurship (HOPE), Fashion and Tailoring Incubator, agropreneur projects for MyAgrosis, Siswapreneur Fest and Islamic Convention of Entrepreneurship.
Director of the Centre of Students’ Entrepreneurship Development, Dr Ummi Salwa Ahmad Bustamam, said: “We also involve students in MOHE’s national programmes such as Siswapreneur@PPRN, Siswatech2Biz, Social Enterprise @ Urban Community and Siswapreneur Showcase.”
The centre also organises an entrepreneurship training module called Latihan Asas Keusahawanan Islam Siswa (LAKIS). The five-day programme is usually conducted during the semester break to expose students to hands-on entrepreneurship experience.
Other than LAKIS, students who have already started their venture will be given an opportunity to present their business idea to potential venture capitalists comprising USIM lecturers and administrative staff who are interested to invest in students’ businesses.
“This ‘shark tank’ programme provides a good platform for students to expand their businesses,” added Ummi Salwa.
USIM students are also actively involved in social entrepreneurship projects led by ENACTUS USIM. For instance, the golden oil project is conducted to collect used cooking oil for recycling and transforming into bio-diesel.
“Recently, we organised USIM Entrepreneurship Award 2017 to recognise students, mentors and industries that are actively involved in entrepreneurship activities at the university. The centre also provides the space and facilities to students who would like to run businesses on campus.”
The facilities include the Student Mall shoplots, portable kiosks, canopies and space for business carnivals as well as the La Vendore shop where students and staff rent a space to showcase their products.
The Siswapreneur Business Incubator was launched last year to provide a space for students to discuss programmes and business activities in a comfortable environment.
This year, USIM plans to organise the PPRN workshop monthly to reach out to more entrepreneurs and industries. In terms of entrepreneurship initiatives for students, USIM will be focusing on agropreneur projects.
“Realising the potential of the agro industry, we believe that USIM should grab this opportunity given by the Ministry of Agriculture in the form of young agropreneur grants. We are working with the Department of Agriculture of Malaysia and Nova Babylon Sdn Bhd on this,” said Ummi Salwa.
“We plan to organise a global youth entrepreneurship summer camp in collaboration with Daffodil International University in Dhaka, Bangladesh and HOPE@USIM in August.
“We will continuously organise entrepreneurship training and programmes to enhance students’ business skills. The focus will be on 4th Industrial Revolution business skills — for example, online business which is a favourite among students.”
Established in August 2010 in line with the launch of the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Policy, the Centre of Students’ Entrepreneurship Development continuously provides programmes and environments based on Islamic values for entrepreneurial development.
“The centre will also strengthen and widen the support system for students’ businesses.”
In the context of encouraging students to
become job creators instead of job seekers, the centre has an entrepreneurship framework embedded in the entrepreneurship ecosystem at USIM.
Starting with the Model for Graduates in Integration of Naqli and Aqli Knowledge, students are exposed from the start to entrepreneurship enculturation programmes. For example, the entrepreneurship foundation course is compulsory for all students regardless of their discipline.
HOPE is a six-hour credit co-curriculum course for students beginning from Year One where they learn the values of entrepreneurship across the curriculum. The centre then empowers students by providing them entrepreneurial learning opportunities in Years Two and Three. In Year Four, before leaving the university, students are equipped with resources such as mentoring and coaching by industry partners and lecturers. Students are also informed of available financial assistance from agencies. This is to support students to create and grow their businesses and ultimately become job creators.
The centre also imparts entrepreneurial skills to staff members and communities.
“In essence, the entrepreneurship agenda in USIM is continuously running and involves all parties including students, staff, the industry and community.
“We hope that with this entrepreneurship agenda, USIM will flourish as a university which contributes to the development of the ummah.”