Change via innovation and entrepreneurship
By. Dr. Jikyeong Kang
“INCLUSIVE GROWTH” has been one of the latest buzzwords in various circles of Philippine society. This is mentioned specifically in the context of acknowledging both the economic gains made in the past few years and the work that remains to be done for a larger percentage of the population to feel the impacts of such growth.
Clearly, the goal of inclusive growth should not be seen as the mandate of government alone. Indeed government must bridge the gap to address the needs of the poor, but it would take the combined effort of other sectors in society for economic gains to dramatically impact the bottom of the pyramid.
It is also important to note that the Philippines’ economic growth has been largely consumer-driven. Tech luminary Dado Banatao, in his keynote speech at the launch of the AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator, alluded to the need to shift from a consumer-driven to a creator economy. He pointed out that innovation and entrepreneurship are the new foundations for economic development and the means to open up opportunities for a wider cross-section of society.
Banatao added that growth rests primarily on the private sector’s ability to innovate and invest, as well as to create a generation of entrepreneurs who can respond to both local and global needs.
Attaining the dream of inclusive growth means that the private sector cannot simply function on a “business as usual” mode. As the Apec Business Advisory Council put forth in 2015, new models for more inclusive businesses must be explored and developed. These should lead to more people being engaged and provided with opportunities to move up the value chains.
A new mindset. A country such as the Philippines should be able to have the mindset of building ecosystems around sectors that can deliver on inclusive growth. Building ecosystems naturally start by taking a serious look at the challenges faced by SMEs (small and medium enterprises) today, such as resilience, equal opportunities for women, access to finance, and capacity-building.
Furthermore, beyond addressing immediate challenges, a long-term view must be taken in building such ecosystems. For example, the Philippines has already taken the first step with the Youth Entrepreneurship Act, which aims to promote entrepreneurship and financial literacy in all levels of education.
This offers a potentially solid foundation that must be further complemented by a gamut of activities to build a robust innovation ecosystem. These include strong and consistent broadband service, university research and development, enhanced science and technology programs in schools, a rigorous intellectual property regime, the presence of incubators, and private sector venture capital.
The role of the academe.The interconnectedness of government, the private sector and the academe becomes more pronounced with the recognition of innovation and entrepreneurship as the drivers of growth and development.
Greater linkages must be formed among all three sectors in order to ensure that graduates are adequately equipped with the skills and capacities that industry demands. More importantly, they must jointly identify and prepare for future competencies that will be required of the talent pool and prioritize societal concerns that laboratories and incubators could focus efforts on—all with the goal of significantly empowering communities.
Collaboration can come in multiple forms, from the provision of resource persons and training programs to the cocreation of joint initiatives, as is the case with the AIM-Dado Banatao Incubator, a collaboration between the Asian Institute of Management and Dado Banatao’s PhilDev Foundation. Addressing current realities and looking ahead at future competencies are also the drivers for AIM’s introduction of a new program devoted to young STEAM (science, technology, engineering, architecture, agriculture, medicine) graduates and professionals, the Master of Science in Innovation and Business, and a relaunch of the Master in Entrepreneurship program.
Education is key. Realizing the promise of inclusive growth entails a commitment to develop leaders who can think big and clearly on what it takes to engage more people and lift them out of poverty. This commitment entails providing more opportunities for small players to grow and generate their own impact.
Growth and development must be founded on a functioning government that provides basic services and protects its people; a vibrant private sector that provides opportunities for individuals and communities; and an evolving academe that not only responds to the current and future needs of society, but also instills in young people the belief and inspiration that they hold the key to realizing our shared aspirations.
Dr. Jikyeong Kang is president and dean of the Asian Institute of Management. For more information on AIM’s programs, please visit: www.aim.edu/schools-programs.