Introduction

Good morning. I am pleased to join you here today to celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship among our young people.

Overview of the entrepreneurship field

Over the years, the government and private sector partners have worked together to catalyse and build a pro-enterprise environment and entrepreneurial culture in Singapore. SPRING supports entrepreneurship education programmes in schools, incubation & mentoring networks, early-stage financing with angel investors & venture capitalists, and grant funding for aspiring entrepreneurs with promising business ideas.

For example, SPRING’s Young Entrepreneurs Scheme for Schools (or YES Schools) gives more than 42,000 students in 149 schools exposure to entrepreneurship learning. In 2013, SPRING launched ACE Schools, a structured three-year Entrepreneurship Programme for secondary schools. Comprising learning modules, competitions and guidance from entrepreneurs, the programme was developed to enhance students’ hands-on experience and exposure to the world of business. I understand that 14 schools are now on the ACE Schools programme, where students have benefitted through guidance from seasoned entrepreneurs in developing their own enterprising ideas.

Entrepreneurship is vital for our economy as it contributes to innovation and problem-solving. It also nurtures the values of self-reliance, resilience and perseverance. Indeed, being an entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted. Entrepreneurs typically have to work long hours and juggle all aspects of their business. Achieving success as an entrepreneur requires you to start with a good idea, an idea you believe in, and pressing on despite facing roadblocks and hurdles along the way. But it also requires you to be able to recognize and accept failure, and overcome it. So I am glad that there are organisations such as Youth Business Singapore that help our students develop these values.

Entrepreneurship programs in IHLs

Our institutes of higher learning (IHLs) have also been in the forefront in preparing our graduates for industry and an environment of dynamic change. Temasek Polytechnic is an example of this. The school has sought to equip their graduates with an entrepreneurial mindset that would allow them to bring the spirit of enterprise into their work, regardless of whether they are self-employed or working for a company. Temasek Poly’s Entrepreneurship Centre supports entrepreneurship education, and provides mentorship and guidance during the students’ new start-up journey, as well as providing workshops on areas of entrepreneurship development.

Ngee Ann Poly’s ‘Ideawerkz’, a student innovation centre, allows propagation of innovation by growing a group of student innovators. I understand that the centre’s activities include awareness creation, holding ideas competitions, and providing staff mentoring and funding of student ideas. The Entrepreneurs-Connect@NP (EC@NP) is a one-stop-centre to nurture entrepreneurial spirit amongst students. EC@NP draws on the capabilities residing in the various units of NP to support the undertaking of student enterprise.

Examples of successful youth entrepreneurs

Edwin Yeo, a Temasek Poly graduate, is one of the entrepreneurs supported by Youth Business Singapore. Edwin ventured into diving, which was his passion, and after many years of working, Edwin discovered his niche and decided to start a business. However, with no access to funds, Edwin still had to find work and struggled to look for sponsorship and investors during his free time. After eight years of perseverance, Edwin’s product received a well-recognised certification and he was able to attract 6-digit funding.

Another entrepreneur supported by Youth Business Singapore is Woo Sze Ming. Sze Ming, who is the CEO of Gamurai Technologies, started his business in 2010 when he was still studying in university, despite having little support from his family and friends. He did not receive any salary during the course of his entrepreneurial journey and only survived on a small allowance. It is encouraging to hear that Sze Ming’s business has launched his first product after four years of research and development earlier in September this year.

I am sure there are many more inspiring examples amongst the guests and participants seated here.

A special welcome to speakers from ASEAN and China. I am sure our Singapore participants are looking forward to hearing, and learning from, your experiences.

Conclusion

In closing, I would like to extend my thanks to Heartware Network, S.I.T. and Courts for organising this inaugural conference. I hope that all of you will have a fruitful time today. And to all our budding entrepreneurs, do take this opportunity to ask questions, challenge yourself to think out of the box, and actively participate in all the sessions.

I hope that you will “Dream Big. Do Big”, and I wish you all the best in pursuing your dreams. Thank you.