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BUSINESS

Alliance Bank EcoBiz Challenge 4 Empowers Youths to Develop Sustainable Business Solutions

15/09/2022 10:17 PM

 

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 (Bernama) – The recently concluded Alliance Bank EcoBiz Challenge 4 highlighted the different types of support youths need as they embarked on their entrepreneurial journey. 

While financial support was important, having the right mindset, receiving good counsel and being in a supportive network were equally important for young social entrepreneurs. 

"Funding can definitely make things happen, but more importantly, we have to develop our youths first," said Youth Trust Foundation (“YTF”)'s chief executive officer Nurfarini Daing, a social business advocate and thought leader in social entrepreneurship.

As one of the mentors and judges for the environmental-themed competition, Nurfarini guided the participants in developing viable social enterprises. 

“Mentoring and capability development is of crucial importance to guide youths towards developing sustainable business solutions. Everyone is different and by tailoring programmes to suit their needs, we are able to address the gaps in their knowledge while leveraging their strengths,” she told Bernama.

She added that mentors have a role to equip youths with know-how in social entrepreneurship from a much younger age so that they can be developed into independent and wholesome youths. 


“It is important to raise awareness on social issues to activate youth as changemakers. This can be done by providing them with a platform for self-awareness and encouraging social innovation as a means to develop competencies. Subsequently, we can then facilitate their growth as financially sustainable and impactful social business entrepreneurs.” she said.

 

As they grow to into their roles as young entrepreneurs, one of the key challenges they face when starting a social enterprise is obtaining funding, she said.

 

Muhammad Aisy, who was attached to TEKUN Nasional and also one of the judges for EcoBiz Challenge 4, highlighted that social enterprises are unable to invest in additional assetsto expand their business due to limited access to financing.However, he noted that entrepreneurs can seek alternativessuch as crowdfunding.

“Social entrepreneurs can apply for financing schemes via TEKUN Nasional or list their businesses on a crowdfunding platform to raise funds from the general public. These avenuesprovide flexible funding with favourable terms, helping them accelerate their social business growth," he said.

He added that while there are social entrepreneurs who seethese financing avenues as easy access to obtain funds, however, their lack of experience and exposure can cause potential investors to back away.  

“Establishing trust is essential, and social entrepreneurs should prioritise convincing investors about their mission and social goals to earn the necessary buy-in for their business’ cause. While possessing these essential skills can help them, having the right mentorship is the first critical step," he said.

 

Echoing Aisy’s opinion, Nurfarini shared that fundraising could be a daunting experience for anyone at any age.

YTF had seen many youth-driven projects and social enterprises successfully acquire funding when they can tell a story that resonates with their target audience, clearly understand financial requirements, and practise good governance.

Both the judges noted that the EcoBiz Challenge 4 had helped tertiary students acquire the necessary skills to embark on social entrepreneurship.

“The guidance and mentorship provided during this programme helped nurture these young social entrepreneurs in ideating their sustainable business solutions by equipping them with the know-how from industry leaders and sustainability mentors. While there is no single roadmap to success in social entrepreneurship, youths have higher chances of success when given the tools and guidance to navigate the journey,” said Nurfarini. 

The EcoBiz Challenge 4 is a collaboration between Alliance Bank and the Malaysian Green Technology and Climate Change Corporation (“MGTC”) to encourage tertiary students to develop sustainable business solutions which address environmental, economic or social issues.

 Themed “Inspiring Malaysia to be a Zero-Waste Nation”, the recently-concluded season 4 attracted the participation of 500 students that made up 138 teams representing 30 universities nationwide. 

11 teams made it to the final stage and underwent MGTC’s Jana Graduan Usahawan Hijau (“JaGUH”) 20-week programme. JaGUH is an innovative programme aiming to instil a changemaker mindset in participants and equip them with essential technical, financial and eco-entrepreneurial skills.

The students also received guidance and mentoring from industry leaders and sustainability mentors throughout the programme.

The EcoBiz Challenge 4 concluded in June 2022 with Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia’s (“UTHM”) Team Genesys emerging as the winner, taking home the grand prize of RM10,000 cash.

 The Batu Pahat team, comprising Wan Muhammad Idham Wan Mahdi, 31, Mohd Syahir Anwar Hamzah, 29, and Nurliyana Abdul Rahim, 29, impressed judges with their social business idea, which employs single mothers and youths to upcycle discarded banners and buntings into items like tote and shopping bags.

Team Genesys, alongside 10 other finalist teams, will continue to hone their eco-entrepreneurial skills in a six-month entrepreneurial programme organised by Alliance Bank. During these six months, they will strengthen their business know-how in areas such as accelerating business growth, improving sales performance and targets, and other crucial business topics. 

To read more about the 11 finalists and for more information on the EcoBiz Challenge, please visit https://www.alliancebank.com.my/ecobiz

-- BERNAMA


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