Scholarly article on topic 'Students and Women Entrepreneurs’ Collaborations in Social Entreprise Program at UiTM, Malaysia'

Students and Women Entrepreneurs’ Collaborations in Social Entreprise Program at UiTM, Malaysia Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Jamalunlaili Abdullah, Halim Shuhaimi Yeop Johari, Adlan Ahmad Bakri, Wan Maziah Wan Abdul Razak

Abstract Entrepreneurship is one of the critical agenda projects of the Malaysian Ministry of Education since 2010. Social entrepreneurship which include Enactus and Women in Social Entreprise (WISE) is one important element of university entrepreneurship program. WISE is a program whereby students stay with women entrepreneurs who are affiliated with Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia to benefit both parties. This paper descriptively analyzes this innovative collaborations and its impacts to both students and women entrepreneurs. If found that the programme has positively impacted all participants; women entrepreneurs through involvement and intellectual inputs of students and for the students through hand-on learning of entrepreneurship.

Academic research paper on topic "Students and Women Entrepreneurs’ Collaborations in Social Entreprise Program at UiTM, Malaysia"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 168 (2015) 97 - 103

AicE-Bs2014Berlin

(formerly AicE-Bs2014Magdeburg)

Asia Pacific International Conference on Environment-Behaviour Studies Sirius Business Park Berlin-yard field, Berlin, 24-26 February 2014

"Public Participation: Shaping a sustainable future"

Students and Women Entrepreneurs' Collaborations in Social Entreprise Program at UiTM, Malaysia

Jamalunlaili Abdullahab*, Halim Shuhaimi Yeop Joharia, Adlan Ahmad Bakria,

Wan Maziah Wan Abdul Razakc

aMalaysian Academy of Entrepreneurship and SME Development (MASMED), bFaculty of Arcitecture, Planning and Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA(UiTM), Shah Alam 40450 Malaysia _cUiTM Terengganu, Dungun, Malaysia_

Abstract

Entrepreneurship is one of the critical agenda projects of the Malaysian Ministry of Education since 2010. Social entrepreneurship which include Enactus and Women in Social Entreprise (WISE) is one important element of university entrepreneurship program. WISE is a program whereby students stay with women entrepreneurs who are affiliated with Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia to benefit both parties. This paper descriptively analyzes this innovative collaborations and its impacts to both students and women entrepreneurs. If found that the programme has positively impacted all participants; women entrepreneurs through involvement and intellectual inputs of students and for the students through hand-on learning of entrepreneurship.

© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-reviewunder responsibility ofCentreforEnvironment-BehaviourStudies(cE-Bs),FacultyofArchitecture,Planning&Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia.

Keywords: Entrepreneuurship; social entrepreneurship; women in social entreprise; Universiti Teknologi MARA

1. Introduction

Entrepreneurship has been given a boost in Malaysian universities though its elevation as one of the critical agenda projects of the then Ministry of higher Education (changed to Ministry of Education

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +60192627100; fax: +60355444353. E-mail address: jamal858@salam.uitm.edu.my.

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Centre for Environment-Behaviour Studies (cE-Bs), Faculty of Architecture, Planning & Surveying, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.10.214

recently) since 2010. Social Entrepreneurship is one of the main programs in the university entrepreneurship programs. Examples of main social entrepreneurship programs are Enactus (formerly SIFE) in which students help communities to improve their socio-economic well beings, environment and social cohesion and Women in Social Enterprise (WISE), whereby students stay with women entrepreneurs (Sahabat) who are affiliated with Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) to benefit both parties.

WISE was launched by Ministry of Education in 2012, and the program was intensified in 2013. It is an innovative program which strives to inculcate entrepreneurship elements among university students while helping women entrepreneurs in AIM, an organization that strives to improve the livelihood of the poor in Malaysia. Student volunteers are placed with women entrepreneurs for one month period whereby they help these entrepreneurs to improve their businesses while learning about the running of businesses from the latter. A university academic is appointed to oversee the placement of the students run according to the objectives of the program. It is a smart partnership that allows students to impart their technical knowledge to women entrepreneurs while learning about entrepreneurship in the real world.

2. Purpose of study

The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of the program in achieving its objectives. The feedback from the participants is very essential to further improvise the program.

3. Methodology

This paper descriptively analyzes the WISE program involving about 400 Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) students and 200 women entrepreneurs all over Malaysia. It describes the idea and implementation of the program as well as how it helps to strengthen social entrepreneurship among tertiary level students. In addition, it analyzes the effectiveness of the programs through in depth telephone interviews with all respondents consist of the students, women entrepreneurs & lecturers. The interviewing via mobile communication was chosen as obviously it would be very costly to reach the participants on face to face basis.

It concludes with assessment of this smart partnership and participation among universities and AIM in alleviating the socio-economic conditions of the poor and advancing the goal of social entrepreneurship in Malaysian universities.

4. Literature review

The definition of social entrepreneurship varies. Nevertheless, the one quoted by Dees (1998) was regularly mentioned. Dees inked social entrepreneurship as a mechanism by which members of the public educate and empower societies to offer resolutions to social concerns such as single parent, drug addicts, illnesses, environmental exploitation, poverty and others, relatively to make life economically better for many. Perhaps, by virtue, social entrepreneurship being subscribed in many forms since early days of civilization as recorded by Bornstein and Davis (2010).

Yunus Grameen Bank, incorporated in 1976 has been sentimental in provoking the philosophy of social entrepreneurship into real action meant for women in devastating post-war life especially in eight countries including Bangladesh where it originated. The program has empowered women to chart their own destiny by offering small financial aid which motivating them into business ventures and coaching them to be financially independent and sustainable.

Being fair, however, as pointed by Bechervaise and Benjamin (2013), social entrepreneurship was not always being the main agenda of capitalists or even law makers. Wealth maximization could dissuade corporate players from exhausting their means in ensuring the elements of public well-being are integrated into shareholder's profit diary. Thus, company's corporate social responsibility (CSR) could hardly be considered as social entrepreneurship.

The word social is appealing due to its straight forward definition yet commands comprehensive and complex interpretations in many cultures. Nonetheless, if facts to be recognized, social networking and media are two substances needed to successfully implement social entrepreneurship, as researched by Oprica (2013).

Necessarily not an individual, philanthropist can be an organization as well. A cooperative by nature is a very classic example of embedding the values of social entrepreneurship within the members of the public. Findings demonstrated by Rajaei, Yaghoubi, and Donyaei (2011) indicated that educating cooperative management and empowering the board members through structured mechanism would mathematically spell a greater probability of success. Transforming any organization into learning organization is enviable amid today's business competitive environment.

Single mother parenting is one of common social phenomenon in Malaysian progressing economy and their number out-weighted single father. Most of them are middle aged or elderly and without tertiary-level of education. It was reported that they are living in poverty as their gross income is just about one third of country's average (Malaysian Daily 2010). The sources of living have been mainly generated from informal business activities and the substantial numbers are mainly self-employed. Exponentially, the income bracket deviates further and comprehensively complicated enough to be numbered accurately.

Rangan, Leonard and McDonald (2008) were farsighted by suggesting a different perspective in social entrepreneurship post modernization era where the public should be looking into innovative ways of facilitating those target groups. High technology and fast changing business landscape may need a very comprehensive yet friendly scheme of financial and non-financial assistances which to a certain extent may advocate a new medium of funding such as crowd funding as against the conventional instruments. Crowd funding in a sense of funding unique business venture is spiritually part of future dimension of social entrepreneurship.

A new dimension in business approaches still firmly compliment entrepreneurship orientation and its classic objective which is wealth maximization of shareholders, only lately to be redefined when external stakeholders are indirectly yet aggressively rephrase shareholder's objective. Sustaining development of any economic activities is greatly determined by its implication towards environment, society at large as made understood by Stefanescu and On (2012). A profit orientation entity is no longer too focusing to maximizing the shareholder's values but at a bigger picture, ensuring wealth that being created, lingered. In simple words, this sector needs an evolution to stay relevant in today's trading pace and way of doing things. Importantly, the classic objective to enrich the society quality of life remains.

5. Social entrepreneurship program in Malaysia & WISE

Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) was incorporated about a decade after the establishment of Grameen Bank. The state owned entity confining its business operation onto advancing micro financing to those qualified single mothers and since then, has been servicing almost 300,000 borrowers and claimed to be the loan lender with the highest repayment rate. Whilst the government consistently playing a significant role in addressing the concern, other stakeholders have engineered numerous methodologies to get closer to this target group. University student's enthusiasms supported by

academic's expertise would definitely shape a strategic affiliation between relevant parties aimed at improving the business performance of the registered members of AIM.

Students are seconded to the businesses and consequently, within a limited time frame enabling the businesses to greater heights with the capability of pitching new business ideas and overall process improvements. Women in Social Enterprise (WISE) program is a strategic collaboration between AIM and UiTM which was inspirationally designed to bridge the knowledge and expertise gap by bringing the university to concerns. Such non-financial assistance kind of instrument is creating a new spectrum within the discipline of social entrepreneurship study. The parameter can further be extended to more concerned groups as it involves minimal monetary commitments. Such assistance motivates more people from all walks of life to contribute towards having a balanced society and economically sufficient community. Enactus UiTM Malaysia, a member of a world non-profit organization headquartered in the United States for instance, has significantly inspired a group of university students to contribute in executing simple approaches elevating the living standard of concerned groups by assimilating them the extrinsic and intrinsic values of entrepreneurship as observed by Jamalunlaili et.al (2013) in Perhentian Island, Malaysia.

WISE was initiated in 2012 and intensified in 2013 through the collaboration of three key partners : Ministry of Education, Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia ( AIM ) and University Teknologi MARA ( UiTM ). The pilot project was conducted by 30 students from UiTM Johor in 2012. In year 2013, this program was implemented to other UiTM branches which involved 400 UiTM students, 40 UiTM lecturers as supervisors and 200 women entrepreneurs (Sahabat) throughout Malaysia. The objective of this program was:

• To generate entrepreneurship values within students through social entrepreneurship activities.

• To enhance the higher learning institutions' (IPT) system of giving out information to the general public.

• To increase the capabilities and abilities of micro entrepreneurs' business.

• To enhance the strategic relationship between IPT and Industry in building up the community.

Selection of the students for this program was based on voluntary basis. Selected students were attached to women entrepreneur who are single mothers who act as their foster parent for one month. This opportunity helped students to learn hands-on the running of businesses. At the same time, with their theoretical knowledge they would help these women entrepreneur to improve their businesses. On the other hand, UiTM lecturers would supervise the activity according to the objectives of the program. It is a smart partnership that allows students to impart their technical knowledge to women entrepreneurs while learning about entrepreneurship in the real world.

Table 1. No of UiTM students involved in WISE program

Universiti Teknologi MARA No of Students No of Women Entrepreneurs No of Lecturers

1. Perak 50 25 5

2. Johor 50 25 5

3. Shah Alam 100 50 10

4. Perlis 50 25 5

5. Terengganu 50 25 5

6. Sarawak 50 25 5

7. Sabah 50 25 5

Total 400 200 40

6. Analysis of WISE program

At the conclusion of the WISE program, a telephone interview with students, women entrepreneurs and lectures were conducted. The questions were open-ended general questions covering the following:

• What is good about this WISE?

• What is the weakness of the program?

• How the program did benefits the students?

• How did the program benefit the women entrepreneur (Sahabat)?

• Should this program be expanded and continued in the future?

Table 2. Telephone interview with 20 students, 10 women entrepreneurs & 10 lecturers

Students Women Lecturers Total

Entrepreneurs

No of 20 10 10 40

Respondent

Results:

All the lecturers agreed that this program had ignited interest among the youth to be involved in business.

All students, women entrepreneurs and lectures agreed that this program should be advocated and expanded in the future.

90% of women entrepreneurs indicated that the WISE program was able to improve their business.

80% of the students agreed they were able to apply knowledge on entrepreneurship, soft skill, leadership and management learned in school in real life situation.

30% of the students found that safety was the main issue of this program

A qualitative analysis of the answers revealed some of interesting results. Most of women entrepreneurs indicated that the WISE program was able to improve their businesses, some rather significantly. The student participants felt that the program has contributed towards their goal of participating in community service, a noble action which has always been part of the agenda of the university. This statement was supported by academic who acted as supervisors who indicated that WISE is an excellent way for institutions of higher learning to get closer to local communities, especially in rural areas where most of these women entrepreneurs operate. The strength of the program was through a to smart partnership of the three parties involved; students who provided intellectual inputs and manpower the women entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs who trained the students on the rewards and challenges of running a business while providing a home to the students, and UiTM academics who ensure the program is run successfully to achieve its objective.

An analysis on the weaknesses of the program indicates it is the safety issue of the students of the paramount importance since the students are placed in the home of foster single mothers whom they have not met before. This is especially since most of these women entrepreneurs tend to be poor and live in very rural areas of the country which may pose some logistical problems especially to female students. Other weaknesses are that some students were not prepared mentally and physically to live in rural areas in a poor environment. These student volunteers need to have a clear picture of the situation that they are about to be involved with since they would be staying with their single mothers for a full month and helping them in their businesses.

The UiTM academics who worked as supervisors of the program when asked how the programs benefitted the students indicated that it has ignited interests among the youths to be involved in

businesses. Despite the challenges faced by single mothers in running their businesses, the students discovered that businesses have its own rewards, especially financially. This is especially so in the current economic climate of Malaysia where although unemployment rate is very low at 3 percent, the number of jobless graduates has reached almost 100,000 people.

Students also found that they were able to apply knowledge on entrepreneurship, soft skill, leadership and management learned in school in real world situation. The opportunity to be in a rather difficult situation with single mothers, some of whom are very poor, had caused them to try to apply the theories learned in classrooms to help their foster mothers. Some had resorted to applying marketing skills to help improve the women entrepreneurs' businesses while others taught them basic accounting and management skills. They found that the theories learned in universities could be effectively applied in helping real businesses to improve.

Women entrepreneurs were also asked about the benefits of the program to their businesses of which a great majority answered affirmatively. With the help of the student volunteers as their foster sons or daughters, these women entrepreneurs were able to improve their marketing strategy and promotion. They were also taught on how to improve the pricing and packaging of their products. Since most of these women entrepreneurs are not highly educated, the presence of university students had helped them to understand the theories of entrepreneurship and to learn some new skills necessary in the business world. The students also had exposed these women entrepreneurs on the use of social media in promoting their businesses. It was an eye opening experiences for the women entrepreneurs into the social media world.

For the last questions, all respondents agreed that the program should be supported and expanded in the future since it has benefitted all stakeholders involved, women entrepreneurs, student volunteers and even the academic supervisors. Despite implemented for only a month, it has achieved its objectives of social entrepreneurship. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Khairuddin Ab Hamid was quoted for stating that the program would have a positive influence on the development of micro business in a local community. In addition, he said WISE also offered a "real life experience" training ground for the undergraduates to comprehensively apply what they have learnt in the bricks and mortars constructed classroom.

7. Implication and conclusion

This paper has descriptively analyzed the social entrepreneurship program WISE which was widely implemented in Malaysia during 2013. Its qualitative analyses of the stakeholders involved in the program had revealed the effectiveness of the program in achieving its objectives. The innovativeness of the program ought to be replicated and expanded in future WISE program as well as other similar programs. A qualitative analysis with more in-depth questions involving more respondents will be undertaken in the future to gather more data about the effectiveness of the program. As mega university in nature UiTM was the best institution to undertake such important program in tandem with its capability across disciplines and students from all walks of life.

References

Bornstein, D., & Davis, S. (2010). Social entrepreneurship: What everyone needs to know. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.

Jamalunlaili, A., Hardy L. R., Noor Faizah, M. L., & Junainah, J. (2013). The social entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability in Perhentian Island. 2013 International Conference on 'Island Development-Local Economy, Culture, Innovation and Sustainability', 1-5 October 2013, Penghu Archipelago, Taiwan.

Dees, J. G. (1998). The meaning of social entrepreneurship.

Bechervaise, N. E., & Colin, G. B.(2013). Visionary or criminal: From profit through morality to socially sustainable entrepreneurship. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 99, 339 -350.Retrieved on November 6, 2013.

Oprica, R. (2013). Social networking for social entrepreneurship. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 92, 664 - 667. Retrieved on October 10, 2013.

Rangan, V., Kasturi, Hermn, B. L., &Susan, M. (June, 2008). The future of social enterprise. Harvard Business School Working Paper.

Rajaei, Y., Jafar, Y., Hamid, D. (2011). Assessing effective factors in development of entrepreneurship in agricultural cooperatives of Zanzan province. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15, 1521 - 1525.

Stefanescu, D & On, A., (2012).Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development in EuropeanCountries before and during the International Crisis. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 58, 889-898