26 November 2003

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Minister calls for entrepreneurship to be strengthened

"Entrepreneurs not only create jobs and new products and services; their companies have a real-bottom line effect on our international competitiveness. We must therefore strengthen this natural resource with the right dose of education and opportunities," was Education Minister Louis Galea’s appeal when speaking at the Launch of the "Meet the Entrepreneur Programme".
The Programme, an initiative of the Business and Commerce Institute at MCAST, Programme is intended to offer students exposure and contact with leading local entrepreneurs together with the opportunity to take part in the Young Enterprise competition which is held on an annual basis.
Minister Galea said, "We are heading towards an unprecedented era of opportunities particularly as we face membership in the European Union with access to a market of 400 million potential customers. Whilst most speak about the financial challenges we are facing and the need for competitiveness we must also look at what is the main motor of our economy – Entrepreneurship and particularly within the small and medium sized companies."
"Malta’s risk-taking entrepreneurs are responsible for much of today’s prosperity. Good examples include companies in the hotel and tourism industry, beverage companies, a number of manufacturers, and even service providers. The main factor in their success is innovation and the main effect is job creation. Today’s entrepreneurs are people who take advantage of innovative ideas, embrace calculated risk, and transform ideas into jobs and wealth creation."
Recent research indicates a close correlation between a region’s entrepreneurial capacity and its economic prosperity. In fact, studies by the London Business School have found that varying levels of entrepreneurial activity account for nearly one-third of the difference in national economic growth rates.
Minister Galea said that these trends mean that our country’s future economic competitiveness will be directly correlated with its ability to train, retain, and assist talented entrepreneurs and employees ready and willing to work for entrepreneurial companies.
Dr Galea said that it was often questioned whether it was possible or not to teach entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation which in his opinion are all complementary. Dr. Galea said that teaching entrepreneurship, like creativity and innovation is not only possible, but is highly effective. Reams of studies show that people who are exposed to entrepreneurship training (at any level - from kindergarten to adulthood) are more likely to start a business and to succeed at it. In the fields of Creativity and Innovation we are also aware of the power of creative thinking and the economic and other benefits it can reap when applied well. Minister Galea said that he already had the opportunity to speak about the opportunities our country could benefit from by investing in creativity and innovation and that he was sure that this was the way forward. In fact the Malta Council for Science and Technology has a number of forsight and other programmes to spur development in the field of Science and Technology through innovation.
Minister Galea said that students need to realise that the majority of great ideas and successful companies start off small and eventually grow, some faster than others. Even in a large economy such as the USA, a large amount of entrepreneurs start small, in fact about three million persons start their own small business annually.
"We need to understand entrepreneurs’ significant contributions to the national economy, support it and nurture its’ growth. Innovative products and services brought to market by entrepreneurs improve the quality of our lives. These firms create new jobs, they make us more globally competitive. They create economic growth and new wealth. Entrepreneurship and economic development are synonymous and should be seen as top priorities." Dr. Galea emphasised that "We must do more to support and strengthen risk-taking entrepreneurs. In so doing, we will ensure that ever-accelerating global change will be our ally rather than something we are scared of."
Minister Galea said that although most feel that Government involvement should be minimal, government can do a lot to promote and create the right environment for the entrepreneurial spirit to grow and excel. Government sees the importance of innovation, creativity, science and technology and vocational training and has invested heavily in the educational sector to provide the knowledge and expertise necessary in these sectors.
Entrepreneurship is often considered to be a process of innovation. While this is true, entrepreneurship also relies on routine and convention. When local people view starting a business as a normal, routine activity, more of them will be willing to take the leap. In addition, communities that enjoy persistent, routine entrepreneurship are also more likely to be home to local business leaders, consultants, and service providers with expertise in starting a new business. Apart from the initiatives taken by Malta Enterprise to help people who want to start their own businesses, an excellent start to the business world is offered by the Young Enterprise Experience and Scoops which is very popular locally. The experience helps our youth realise that after all it is no big deal starting off your own company and the returns are lucrative.
Minister Galea augured that the MCAST business and commerce Students take an active interest in this programme, participate and use this opportunity wisely, he said that most people who are now in the working world will tell you that they learned a lot from such practical experiences and most have found them as essential. Not many get the opportunity to speak face to face with our countries’ top entrepreneurs so this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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