Congratulations to all the graduates of Class 2014 including my son Matt who enters Grade 8 next school year. It won’t be long when he will have to choose a college course, one that will provide him a sure job, a steady income, and a comfortable life. If it were up to me, I would like him to be a lawyer or a doctor. Or probably have a career in the military. But he seems not to be inclined to it. I am not surprised. When I, too, was about to graduate from high school my own parents wanted me to take up banking and finance in college because they planned to put up a rural bank. I said that is not my interest. I wanted to be on television and dance and entertain, not count numbers. Although some afternoons spent with my Auntie Puring Tamayo at the Philippine Veterans Bank branch which she used to head, sorting out coins may have rubbed off on me as I am quite adept when it comes to household accounting.
But what is the point here? As Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo stated in his message at the IDEA Global Entrepreneurship Symposium organized by PhilDev’s Dado Banatao of Silicon Valley, IDEA and USAID, in the old days, parents dictated to their children which careers to take. Today, many kids like to try to start their own business instead of being employed in big multinational companies. There is a change in cultural mindset making the future bright for entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship is something we really need given the goal of inclusive growth, said Domingo.
We need to enable the MSMEs because it is impossible to rely on big business alone to achieve it. Already, many government policies and programs are in place to push the entrepreneurial spirit. There is the Magna Carta for MSMEs which provides incentives, the BMBE or Barangay Micro-Business Enterprise Law, a nice concept but being poorly implemented.
Just recently, the Upper chamber passed the Go Negosyo Bill sponsored by newbie Senator Bam Aquino to promote entreprenuership. As far as DTI is concerned, five Ms outline the support programs for the MSMEs: Markets (access), Mentorship (training), Money (funding), Machines (equipment) and Materials (raw materials).
Innovation however, is key to sustainability whether it be in design or business practices. There is an Innovation Strategy by the DOST which aims to make the Philippines the Asian Innovation Hub. They will have to move faster to make that dream come true. We are thankful for STRIDE, a USAID program. Part of its mission is to help Philippine universities strengthen their applied research capacity to promote innovation-led economic growth in the country turning ideas to products. There is also IDEA Space Foundation of the MetroPacific Group which provides initial support to innovative entrepreneurs of more than $24,000 (P1 million) worth of funding, services, and training under a six-month business incubation and acceleration program. They will also receive business mentoring and office space in Makati as well as housing for non-Metro Manila participants, among others.
What is lacking, Secretary Domingo points out, is an umbrella agency that will put together the big innovation program for a more concerted effort to push innovation.
He enumerates what is needed. First, a strong government commitment to support science and technology by setting aside a budget for R & D.
Second, a highly-educated workforce consisting of Masters and PhDs in the sciences such as physics, chemistry, industrial design or chemical engineering to sustain the innovation effort.
Third, a business environment conducive to Research and Development so that more people will invest and by this we mean tax incentives to encourage start-ups and venture financing, easier registration processes and intellectual property protection.
Fourth, strong business and academe linkages to produce the people needed by big business.
CHED recognizes the role of the academia in molding entrepreneurship mindset in the universities. In fact, it realizes that it cannot produce a critical mass of techonopreneurs given the present set-up. Thus, CHED Chair Patricia Cunanan says for the immediate, it will be forming an inter-disciplinary group on technopreneurship and it will also issue a circular to all the universities to leave out some units for electives to be filled up with S & T units.
While they are at it, could CHED abolish those courses that only produce bad politicians?
God is Great!