Want to spark joy? SPARK your mind instead!

July 18, 2019

The Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) 2018 reported a 4.0% increase for Asia Pacific from the average GEI score of 32.7 in 2017. From this index alone, we can infer that more and more people are jumping on the entrepreneurial bandwagon. Unfortunately, this number still needs further improvement, especially when compared against other regions such as Europe with an average GEI score of 46.9 and North America with a score of 61.5. The difference between the scores are vast and more needs to be done to tackle this. But, have we exhausted all our strategic plans to increase this number from previous years? Have we deployed all our resources in pursuit of an even larger index number? What else can we do?The Global Entrepreneurship Index covers 14 areas/ pillars of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Each country has one (or several) critical areas that are holding back the ecosystem, and different actions can be taken to generate improvements in each of these areas. with the help of three experts - Professor Richard Saouma, venture capitalist Ken Krull and researcher Ainsley Lloyd - GEI 2018 generated a non-exhaustive list of example actions that one might take to impact each of the 14 areas measured by the GEI to help start the conversation around improving the bottleneck issues in individual entrepreneurship ecosystem. The areas include opportunity perception, startup skills, cultural support, networking, technology absorption, human capital, product innovation, competition and much more. Since MaGIC's inception in 2014, MaGIC has been working towards moulding Malaysia's next generation of entrepreneurs who will be able to navigate the challenges of tomorrow and prepare for the future and rapid change brought about by the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) by mainly addressing common issues that startups face such as mentoring, market access and investment, focusing on three key areas; 1) Creating exponential entrepreneurs by equipping them with the necessary tools, skills, and capabilities to succeed, 2) Building innovation capital conducive for entrepreneurs to access markets as well as venture capital and angel investment, and 3) Creating a collaborative entrepreneurship environment between entrepreneurs, corporates, the government and other key stakeholders. As part of our first focus area and to do our bit in tackling areas measured by the GEI to further improve our scores for GEI 2019, MaGIC provides the rakyat with equal access to entrepreneurship education and an avenue for them to experiment with new ideas and get guidance on how to build a business, which simultaneously brings these aspiring or early stage startups into contact with industry experts, help them learn from mentors and success stories and link them with potential investors and venture capitalists. One of our programmes, specifically designed for this purpose is SPARK, a movement to equip the youth of Malaysia with first world thinking by altering attitudes and mindsets as we move forward to become a more developed nation.Khairul Mazwan, MaGIC's Marketing & Community Manager shared: "One of the MaGIC's missions is to create as many makers as possible. We are focusing on this simply because makers will eventually become entrepreneurs. We want to be able to spot raw talent from the get go. We want to identify them and then groom them as best as we can. Makers make good entrepreneurs due to their knack for spotting opportunities. They are very sensitised to the problems surrounding them, but not in a negative way. Sensitised in a way that they are able to think of solutions. In their minds, they see a problem and instantaneously ask themselves: how can I solve this? how can I hack this problem? So that in essence is what we are trying to instil when we run SPARK programmes- instead of going around the country identifying them which can resource consuming, we nurture this inquisitive thinking while they are still in school."Although SPARK carries the vision of creating future makers and problem solvers, starting from the youth, SPARK events do not have any participant age restriction. In fact, most SPARK sessions are carried out in learning institutions where lecturers, teachers, administrative staff and not forgetting the students, eagerly await to participate. SPARK usually kicks off each session with a brief introduction about the programme followed by exciting workshops such as problem-solving workshops and business canvas workshops, which generally take up to 2 hours. Participants also get to participate in an interactive session where experienced entrepreneurs get to share their entrepreneurial journeys with the crowd and participants get to ask questions relevant to their journey.MaGIC spoke to Mohammad Azmudeen, Muhammad Shalihin and Putera Muhammad Syaamil Bin Ismai, students of International Islamic University Malaysia (UIAM), previous participants of SPARK. All three of them were participants who found SPARK to be such an impactful programme that they invited MaGIC to conduct a SPARK for their lecturers and friends in their university as they wanted them to benefit from SPARK just as much as the three of them did. "We found SPARK to be such an eye-opening programme that we actually invited MaGIC to run SPARK in UIAM, not just once but TWICE! Through SPARK, students were able to gain exposure to many new and exciting things, experiences as well as connections, not just with MaGIC but the speakers and bootcamp trainers too. Both SPARK sessions conducted gained a full-house crowd. It just shows that we really are interested in programmes like SPARK because the content speaks to us." said Mohammad Azmudeen.Mohammad Azmudeen also shared that they were so inspired by the facilitators and speakers that they actually started their own entrepreneurial journeys. Since SPARK, they have ventured into an on-campus business. Putera Muhammad Syaamil Bin Ismail was so thoroughly impacted that he founded a platform for learners and guides to offer and receive offline classes and tutoring called klazziq.com. "They can expect to go in with zero ideas, and come out with the positive mindset for them to actually start something- somewhat of a nudge really. A lot of people say that they want to open up a business but they do not quite know how to go about doing it. SPARK provides them with the opportunity for them to reach out to MaGIC, in order to start their entrepreneurship journey," said Amira Khairul Ikmal, SPARK Programme Lead. When asked what was the key takeaway from SPARK, Muhammad Shalihin said: "For me, I think that, it is when they gave us a task to come up with an idea of solving a specific case study. They wanted us to form teams to then pitch our solutions against other teams. That for me was a really good experience because not only were we competing against time, it gave us the experience of a real business world setting where you have other competitors offering their products to solve the same problem. It showed us that we needed to think out-of the-box if we wanted to win against other teams." Putera Muhammad Syaamil Bin Ismail said: "My key takeaway is rather similar to Shalihin's. SPARK highlights and focuses on one of the most important things for me, which is problem-solving. We are all familiar with the curriculum in universities. There is your usual Mathematics and sciences and languages but there are no subjects that actually teaches you how to live in the real world. There is no subject that us students can use as a foundation for our daily lives and use them to face challenges and solve problems."In need of a little SPARK in your life? SPARK is coming to a city near you! Hint: we may be in Penang and Sarawak pretty soon so keep a lookout on our events page at https://mymagic.my/events/?fwp_event_date=upcoming. Want to SPARK joy within your university? Reach out to us via social media and let us know where you want us to be!Written by Yeow Ern ChiEdited by Reshmi Haran