Malaysia Shines Light On Entrepreneurship

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF), established in 2010, has as its Mission the transformation of Barbados into the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the world by 2020. The Vision For Entrepreneurship In May 2011 the BEF’s vision was enshrined in Protocol VI of the Social Partnership. The BEF strongly believes that Barbados can develop a highly […]

By Peter N. Boos

October 31, 2011

The Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF), established in 2010, has as its Mission the transformation of Barbados into the #1 Entrepreneurial Hub in the world by 2020.

The Vision For Entrepreneurship

In May 2011 the BEF’s vision was enshrined in Protocol VI of the Social Partnership.

The BEF strongly believes that Barbados can develop a highly favourable business environment in which domestic and foreign entrepreneurs can prosper, with all the attendant benefits for all Barbadians.

The realization of this vision requires an outward looking mindset and a firm belief in the entrepreneurial talent in Barbados and the attractions of Barbados as a hub for enterprise. It also requires close, active partnership with government and all stakeholders and a universal commitment to embracing global competition and to lowering unnecessary barriers to doing business in Barbados.

5 Key Pillars

BEF’s focus is on 5 key pillars that create and support an enabling business environment: Government Policy, Finance availability, Education & Talent Development, Business Facilitation, Mentorship.

In assessing our work we compare ourselves with other countries.

Malaysia

A recent report from the Kauffman Foundation on Malaysia is of some value as we chart our way forward.

Malaysia transformed itself from a producer of raw materials in  the 1970s into an upper-middle income country with a multi-sector economy by the late 1990s. The 1997 crisis significantly challenged this technology-exporting country, but it has since successfully sparked two main sources of economic resilience—foreign investment and new firm creation. To my surprise, Malaysian entrepreneurs I spoke with recently gave a great deal of credit to, of all actors on the stage, their government. Did government really do something right?

While governments set the rules and incentives, those trying to build more robust rates of new firm formation in their countries do not generally hold out much hope for any silver bullets from their public sector. The high point of most government programs is too often the day they are announced by high profile political leaders in the bright lights with cameras rolling! Malaysian leaders seem to have taken a more iterative and somber approach to some specific interventions in a national culture that, as was explained to me on my first visit there, did not embrace risk-taking and entrepreneurship easily.

Over the past five years, progress is evident. Although not yet a start-up economy, Malaysia’s entrepreneurialism is reflected in its entrepreneurship and innovation ranks: 34th out of 104 economies in the Legatum´s Entrepreneurship and Opportunity sub-index, 21st among 183 economies in the World Bank´s Doing Business rank, and according to leading advocates, nearly all universities now offer entrepreneurship as a subject. While entrepreneurship programs at universities around the world have mixed results, with 60% of the country’s population of 27 million people defined as youth, this is a step in the right direction.

But how much of this recent success has been driven by the public sector? Malaysia’s Prime Minister has put special emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship as a central economic driver in the country’s ‘New Economic Model’ (NEM) – moving it closer to the heart of economic policy from the sidelines. And programs do abound. Government is now providing grants at the pre-seed and seed level, and introducing various policies to ease regulatory compliance for new businesses. As reported by the Mansfield Foundation, there are now plenty of supporting mechanisms for entrepreneurs in Malaysia, including physical infrastructure, business advisory services and access to capital. In fact, according to the World Bank, Malaysia is the top country in the ease of getting credit”.(Jonathan Ortmans-Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship-24 October 2011).

Barbados can learn from Malaysia. We need to be included in the indices referred to above and seek to be in top 20 of both within 5 years.

Peter N. Boos

Chairman Emeritus Ernst & Young Caribbean (since 2004); Founding partner Business Barbados publication (1999) and the Barbados business web portal BusinessBarbados.com (2009); Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Substance Abuse Foundation Inc. (1996 to date); Founding Sponsor (2009) and First Chairman (2009-2014) Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation Inc.; Founder of the Peter Boos Foundation (2004), (supporting youth development, entrepreneurship, education, addiction treatment, environmental protection, arts & culture development, relief of poverty and support of various community and charitable causes); Founder, Patron and first chairman ASPIRE Foundation (Barbados) Inc. - 'helping charities help' to strengthen and expand the Barbados Third Sector (2014 to date).

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