Introducing Dr Datuk Seri Mohamed Iqbal who is the Chairman of the Malaysian Institute of Management (MIM), Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad drove home the point that with a population of 28 million people, Malaysia is ranked 14th in global competitiveness. Its trade volume is $ 1 trillion with a trade surplus of $ 200 billion. Surely, then, Pakistan has much to partake from the Malaysian recipe of economic prosperity. And Dr Datuk has been associated with the Malaysian economic transformation as academician and institution-builder.
Dr Datuk said that he was more than privileged to be invited to the 3rd ICoBM 2013; he added that the two drivers of economic prosperity are management and technology and so the founders of UMT must be congratulated on their foresight. Addressing the students, he said that textbook learning is different from the real world; there is always something more that the real world can teach you – more competition for one. And this competition will get tougher as more and more players join the race to become successful.
Entrepreneurship is the French word for ‘undertaker’ which of course is means someone who puts you to rest in the grave. But on a positive note, an entrepreneur means a person who organizes a gamut of things for economic success. The question that many people ask is whether entrepreneurs can be made or they are born? There is no simple answer to this question but Dr Datuk illustrated the Malaysian experience to elaborate the situation.
Giving a background of the Malaysian foray into the economic sphere, Dr Datuk said that Malaysia became independent from the British Raj in 1957. At that time, Malaysia was number one rubber producer in the world but the economic scene presented a very lopsided view. The political upheaval that followed the May 13 incident led the government to analyze the prevailing economic disparity and embark upon an ambitious program of reform. In Malaysia, 65% people are Malay Muslims while about 30% are Chinese; the Chinese dominated the economy- they were the businessmen while the Malays were rural people. In a nutshell, 60-70% of productive economic assets were in foreign hands. Such social stratification and identification of race with work/job was of course bad for the economy.
The New Economic Policy of 1970 aimed to change this state of affairs and gave incentives for the Malay Muslims to become entrepreneurs and businessmen. Dr Datuk was associated with setting up national entrepreneurial center to train entrepreneurs. They studied the Appalachian Indians in Pennsylvania, USA; came to Gujrat, Paksitan; and even to Hyderabad, India. In all three places, some sort of entrepreneurship programs were in place. When the team told that Malaysian government that it was time to train, 25 of the initial trainers brought in to train the Malay Muslims resigned and set up their own businesses. That Dr Datuk, added, was proof of the success of the program.
On am important point, Dr Datuk said that Islam encourages and promotes entrepreneurship; the Holy Prophet was an entrepreneur. And from a purely social point of view, the zakat that a rich entrepreneur pays does more good than an ordinary person’s zakat because although both pay the same percentage of zakat, the entrepreneur’s share becomes larger because he earns more.
Today, a strong business class has been created in Malaysia and the Malay Muslim businessmen are going global. The Central Bank lends to people setting up their own ventures. The bank’s lending practice has been adapted for indigenous use on the Grameen Model. The Malaysian Institute of Management has set up a business school, not on the HBS model, but on a street smart model suited to local use.
Giving his comments on Dr Datuk’s talk, Dr A R Kausar thanked the distinguished speaker for sharing the Malaysian model of economic success. He said that during one of his visits to Malaysia, he came across the AL Bokhari University that owned its establishment to en entrepreneur who had devoted some of his money to social work. Today, 10 Pakistani students are studying in the university through a global program that offers education to needy students.
The session concluded on a question and answer session. The audience asked questions ranging from the scope of micro entrepreneurship and role of government in promoting entrepreneurship to how white collar workers may become entrepreneurs.