Trinidad and Tobago and Singapore are just two (2) of the 150+ countries which will be celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014 from November 17th – 23rd, 2014! T&T GEW Host – Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago has started connecting with its global counterparts to get an insight on their various GEW and overall entrepreneurial activities, all aimed at creating an international awareness of entrepreneurship throughout the many corners of the globe!

Both Ryan Soh and Bernard Lee – Co-ordinators at GEW Singapore were very happy to share the Singaporean experience with us here at YBTT. Singapore is described as the entrepreneurial hub of Asia for various reasons. Firstly, the Singapore Government has strong support for entrepreneurship through funding schemes and building infrastructure to support it. According to Lee “Through the launch of Jurong Town Corporation (JTC), start-ups are provided with a strong base to begin their work. It also allows entrepreneurs to network and connect with other team players in the industry. Government bodies also offer attractive government schemes that power various prudent and noteworthy initiatives.” Singapore also grants tax exemptions to employees of Start-Ups under the equity remuneration incentive scheme.

“Even though there has been great support towards entrepreneurship, the citizens of Singapore are still highly risk-averse, and prefer to have stable corporate jobs, and therein lies the importance of GEW SG which would allow the spirit of entrepreneurship to be inculcated in youths” said Lee. A main activity that is usually hosted by Singapore during GEW, is the “Innovative, Creative and Enterprise Challenge (ICE).” This business challenge is targeted at primary and secondary school students  between the ages of 10 – 16 years, to compete with each other, through a two-day pitching to members of the public and judges at a local shopping mall. The aim of this challenge is to inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship from a young age.

From all that has been revealed by GEW Singapore, conversations on entrepreneurship begin and end with youths being one of the country’s most important target segment! This importance is aligned to the formation of “MoneyTree”, a social enterprise founded with the mission to equip youths with financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills. The key program facilitated by
“MoneyTree” is the financial literacy, more commonly known as “FLiP.” “The uniqueness of FLiP lies in the way we conduct our lessons. In order to create a fun-filled and stimulating environment, our lessons are conducted in a mini-economy whereby students are given cash, credit cards and investment certificates. Earning, spending and investing become part of the children’s syllabus, and are presented in a way that is fun and more importantly, relevant” Lee stated. “MoneyTree” also has a Bank where children can do pretty much all that is usually done within that environment including earning interest and making payments with credit cards. The mini-economy not only teaches them financial skills, but also life skills, taking responsibility, presentation skills, decision-making skills and much more. As Lee puts its “it’s a dress rehearsal for real life.”

Another key program is the “Youth Entrepreneurship” program, which is aimed at nurturing social entrepreneurship and building character among the youth. The Singapore National Co-operative Federation is working hand-in-hand with MoneyTree, to offer this elective programme which leverages on the co-operative principles of self and mutual help, and also seeks to complement the education values taught in schools. Students will be encouraged to identify and understand community issues, and initiate action among their peers to make a difference, as well as improve the lives of others with their social business ideas.

Lee further stated that “To re-energize GEW in Singapore, we are engaging the key stakeholders within the entrepreneurship spectrum, to come together to host and/or co-host activities. Thus, we can expect activities that are co-hosted by entrepreneurs and institutions or even associations.” Notably, Singapore has a well-developed eco-system with the existence of government support including proper infrastructure.

In closing Both Lee and Soh shared some useful words of advice “Entrepreneurs are an essential part in the progress of any economy. Entrepreneurs create jobs, bring forth improvements and create better lives for individuals. If you have a dream, find the courage and build it; otherwise you are going to live your life, building other people’s dream!”