Low Thia Khiang: Access to good mentors key to helping entrepreneurs succeed

While financing is important, access to good mentors is equally key to help these entrepreneurs succeed. Are there sufficiently experienced mentors available to advise our entrepreneurs? If not, are there plans to invite successful business founders or venture capitalists from places like the Silicon Valley to provide sound advice to these start-ups and evaluate their business plans?

This was a speech in Parliament on 8 March 2010 by MP for Hougang, Low Thia Khiang, during the Committee of Supply debate, on the budget for the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). Read other Workers’ Party speeches and statements at wp.sg.

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The ESC and the Budget seem to focus heavily on helping companies which are already successful to become Globally Competitive Companies.
In its drive to identify and assist these promising medium-sized companies, has the Government forgotten about local small businesses like sundry shops and car workshops? Would such small enterprises have a place in the new economic landscape, or will they be crowded out or gobbled up by bigger fish?
What is the Government doing to help local small businesses, especially those in sunset industries, to become more competitive and viable in the new economy?
Secondly, is the Government providing the right environment and support for entrepreneurship to flourish in Singapore? We must not lose the spirit of enterprise in Singapore, keeping in mind that many global companies today started from very humble beginnings.
Last year, a survey of 2,300 students from local universities and polytechnics found that less than 2 in 10 of them considered starting their own businesses after graduating, compared to almost 7 in 10 who planned to take up salaried jobs. Is the Minister concerned that so few of our brightest students aspire to be entrepreneurs? Are our schools helping their students to develop more of the traits necessary to be successful entrepreneurs? For example, risk-taking, initiative and agility.
I understand that SPRING Singapore has a number of schemes that provide funding to start-ups. Can the Minister provide an update on how effective these schemes have been in nurturing successful entrepreneurs?
While financing is important, access to good mentors is equally key to help these entrepreneurs succeed. Are there sufficiently experienced mentors available to advise our entrepreneurs? If not, are there plans to invite successful business founders or venture capitalists from places like the Silicon Valley to provide sound advice to these start-ups and evaluate their business plans?

The ESC and the Budget seem to focus heavily on helping companies which are already successful to become Globally Competitive Companies.

In its drive to identify and assist these promising medium-sized companies, has the Government forgotten about local small businesses like sundry shops and car workshops? Would such small enterprises have a place in the new economic landscape, or will they be crowded out or gobbled up by bigger fish?

What is the Government doing to help local small businesses, especially those in sunset industries, to become more competitive and viable in the new economy?

Secondly, is the Government providing the right environment and support for entrepreneurship to flourish in Singapore? We must not lose the spirit of enterprise in Singapore, keeping in mind that many global companies today started from very humble beginnings.

Last year, a survey of 2,300 students from local universities and polytechnics found that less than 2 in 10 of them considered starting their own businesses after graduating, compared to almost 7 in 10 who planned to take up salaried jobs. Is the Minister concerned that so few of our brightest students aspire to be entrepreneurs? Are our schools helping their students to develop more of the traits necessary to be successful entrepreneurs? For example, risk-taking, initiative and agility.

I understand that SPRING Singapore has a number of schemes that provide funding to start-ups. Can the Minister provide an update on how effective these schemes have been in nurturing successful entrepreneurs?

While financing is important, access to good mentors is equally key to help these entrepreneurs succeed. Are there sufficiently experienced mentors available to advise our entrepreneurs? If not, are there plans to invite successful business founders or venture capitalists from places like the Silicon Valley to provide sound advice to these start-ups and evaluate their business plans?

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.