How Can We Promote A More Entrepreneurial Environment Together?


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 CAAYE Facebook“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.” - Napoleon Hill
Eight Commonwealth Asian Nations joined hands to discuss the contemporary needs of young entrepreneurs in the region at the Commonwealth Asia Alliances of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE) Summit held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from the 9th - 11th of November, in parallel to the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meetings (CHOGM). The theme of the summit was highlighted as “Profit with a Purpose” which argued around its key objectives in promoting an ecosystem that supports the development of young entrepreneurs who contribute to economic, social and environmental sustainability across CAAYE countries. CAAYE 2013 was hosted by the Federation Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sri Lanka (FCCISL) in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat
South Asia concurrently holds the greatest opportunities and the risks of been responsible for the world’s largest youth populations in transition, therefore facing reality and addressing those contemporary needs should be key to those respective stakeholders such as governments, for a more stable and prosperous economy. Common challenges faced by young entrepreneurs in Asia are “fundamentals” concerns, which could easily been eliminated if there is right focus and continuous review by the relevant authorities in these countries. Those concerns that caught my eye included the need for updated knowledge and curriculum development at all level, need to not jail but celebrate failure, revamping of “extensive” government and organizational procedures allowing to reduce the lead time.

Understanding the role of a social entrepreneur is seen not to be clearly understood by some key stakeholders, as the proceeds in encouragement and engagement with one, creates disturbance. Over time, social entrepreneurs might need to look at hybrid models for long term sustainability.
We should aim at creating a support system for youth-led enterprises with economic, social and environmental business objectives and ensure youth participation at all country level, bilateral and multi-lateral policy making forums and consistency in policies that support them. Furthermore establish better infrastructure to support start-ups, specifically including more effective incubators. We should also campaign in creating a Commonwealth Asia Business Visa to facilitate the easy movement of entrepreneurs for business development within the region. Authorities need to create structured long term funding schemes with extended moratorium periods to support young entrepreneurs in the start-up stage, including legislate tax relief and tax holidays to encourage youth start-ups.

The structure of education, training and mentorships programmes with innovation as the key accelerator has become oxygen to today’s entrepreneurial atmosphere. In this ambition, we should engage in formulating a curriculum on ethical leadership, innovative and responsible entrepreneurship supported by financial literacy starting from school. While ensuring appropriately trained instructors who will encourage entrepreneurship as a career for youth. This should be reviewed through a system to periodically benchmark against global best practices, and report on relevant country policies and their performance.
There is an immense need to streamline the system for fair and inclusive access to financing for socially responsible businesses, which will ensure that adequate funding is available to youth-led enterprises that address development imperatives and disseminate widely, the information on available government funding schemes. Not withholding to encourage a minimum percentage of every commercial bank’s total loan portfolio as mandated for disbursement to such youth start-ups. Along with a mandate of a single-window system to co-ordinate and standardize policy across multiple agencies and ministries involved in Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise licensing, funding and development.
Last, and most importantly to accelerate policy implementation across borders, which will create and implement regulations that permit ease of access to Commonwealth Asia markets, while enhancing on the use of communication platforms that ensure borderless intellectual exchange and best practice sharing. Governments should agree on a standardized process for time bound approvals, licensing, funding and encourage entrepreneurs to look for cross border partnerships and collaboration opportunities.

The summit included field visits to various sizes of entrepreneurial ventures, business to business meetings and we were delighted to  host an eminent panel of speakers who shared their experiences towards success, which included Jeremy Liddle, President G20 Australia, Shiraz Gidwani, Chief Executive Officer, Iktara World, Ahmed Alhendawi, the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ajith Nivad Cabral, Governor,  C. J Siriwardena, Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and the list goes on.
On the 11th of November 2013, our team headed by Dr. Ruhul Mirchandani Founder President of CAAYE presented the official communique to Mr. Animul Islam Khan, Regional Director Commonwealth Secretariat Asia Regional Center, to be discussed and implemented in the respective country level. Subsequently he in turn presented the recommendations at the Commonwealth Business Council.
The Commonwealth consists of nations from various stands in terms an economics, social and political perspective, therefore how are all these going to be accepted, communicated and implemented? Are they going to be proactive or reactive? Do they see the youth tradition and need for new job creation or are they looking at short term strategies for daily survival?



Lihini Fernando
December 03, 2013

Well stated Siddhartha Nanayakkara. I certainly feel that Entrepreneurship is the solution to youth unemployment, considering the appalling figures - 202Mn unemployed youth according to ILO . However the present days policies are not sufficiently robust to promote this notion. Hence institutions such as CAAYE can play a major role by being the catalyst between governments, policy makers, funding institutions to bring more acceleration towards promoting an entrepreneurial culture. Policy Implementation should be the focus

Jeremy Liddle
December 02, 2013

Great article!!
Entrepreneurship has never been more important than it is today. Humankind is younger than it has ever been, with more than half’s the world population under the age of 25. There is a youth bulge of 1.8 bn, with 87% living in developing countries and around 2/3rds of those underutalised. There is a crisis that the world’s leaders in government, business, civil society and especially youth all agree on, and that crisis is youth unemployment. This crisis has serious social, economic, political and systemic implications that must be addressed immediately!
Now, more than ever, entrepreneurs are essential to create jobs, sustainable economic growth and wealth, as well as to address the growing set of global challenges society is facing.
Studies from organisations such as the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, OECD, Ernst & Young, Accenture and The world Economic forum have consistently illustrated that entrepreneurs and young business are the leading source of job creation and sustainable growth. Countries around the world have increasingly focused on entrepreneurship and innovation as the way forward for building new knowledge and creative approaches, increasing global competitiveness, addressing the growing challenge of increasing unemployment, and creating new jobs, however far more focus and emphasis must now be placed on developing entrepreneurial thinking, and ecosystems that foster entrepreneurship.

Siddhartha Nanayakkara
December 02, 2013

Many Thanks Jeremy
For sharing your valuable knowledge with us and I too, strongly believe that this is the moment we need to strive for positive change towards a more dynamic Asia. This could mean a more sustainable mechanism for generations to come.
Look forward to see you at the G20 in Aus 2014 ! 

December 02, 2013

Really this is a great article.

Siddhartha Nanayakkara
December 02, 2013

Thanks. Please write to me any interesting key facts. This would help us to formulate better policies/ papers.

Ravi Peiris
December 02, 2013

I'd love to see more data/research on the correlation between youth entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. Another article please?

Siddhartha Nanayakkara
December 02, 2013

Thanks Ravi, the key is to focus on youth entrepreneurship especially those conducting socially responsible businesses.They're 2 different segments. It is clear through research and observation that most you led, businesses temp to directly or as a cause address social problems. 
Seyln Sri Lanka a typical case. We will do our best to publish more on this aspect.

Sharanyan Sharma
December 02, 2013

Excellent post Sidarth,
I was there, it was an honor to attend CAAYE summit Colombo,Especially thanks for YI,FCCISL and rahul to made this event more successful :)

Siddhartha Nanayakkara
December 02, 2013

Many thanks and please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences. 

amanda kumarathunga
December 03, 2013

Great piece of writing pal! Yeah we are young and we are asians.. As i believe this is the best time to be young in asia because we together will create history.. CAAYE surely did inspire me and other delegates as well. Let us all be inspired and make this summit the dawn of a new era where youth enterprnship will open new arenas to the whole world..