TOWARDS CREATING AN ENTREPRENEURIAL SOCIETY
(Mr. Manu Leopairote)
Former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry
One of Thailands Seven Dreams as articulated by this current administration is the promotion of an entrepreneurial or enterprising society. The creation of an entrepreneurial society becomes a more compelling and urgent agenda as our country continues to thrive against the backdrop of an interdependent and competitive global economy. It is fitting to focus on the significance of this topic in the light of the memorable occasion we are celebrating tonight.
The concept of an entrepreneurial society is an extension of the entrepreneurship paradigm from where the word entrepreneur is derived. Entrepreneurship and entrepreneur have become buzz words during these past years because of the top priority accorded by this and previous administrations to the promotion of small and medium enterprises, or SMEs. As we all know, there can be no small and medium enterprises without entrepreneurs because they are the men and women behind SMEs.
Heralded as unsung economic heroes, they are the engines of our economic growth, the prime movers of our agro-industrial development and the key drivers of our national progress. As one author appropriately puts it, no entrepreneur, no development. Indeed, the secret behind our economic wealth is the existence of a resilient Thai entrepreneurial class. It is a great honor for our entrepreneurial class that one of their kinds holds the highest office of our country. We salute His Excellency Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who is truly an entrepreneur par excellence.
But there can be no competent entrepreneurs without real entrepreneurship; no dynamic entrepreneurship without vigorous entrepreneurship development. Entrepreneurship as the systemic process of identifying, analyzing and exploiting a business opportunity aims at organizing a business for wealth creation and for delivering a quality of life to our people.
Likewise, entrepreneurship development as an integrated process seeks to nurture entrepreneurship by empowering potential entrepreneurs to start their businesses, upgrading new entrepreneurs to improve themselves and their businesses, and fostering an enabling environment to foster their emergence and growth, thereby positively impacting on our economy. This planned process encompasses the effective and efficient delivery of vital business development services such as training, consultancy, finance, information, infrastructure, and policy support.
An enterprising society is a society where its members internalize, exhibit and apply the characteristics and qualities of successful entrepreneurs. What are these characteristics and qualities?
Various literatures on entrepreneurship and our own daily encounters with entrepreneurs from different sectors clearly point to the fact that these are a special breed of persons who display a high sense of achievement and goal orientation. They possess highly developed abilities to perceive and seize opportunities, to add value to ordinariness, to set challenging yet realistic life goals, to work hard and smart, to know when to collaborate and when to compete, to rise above failures and setbacks, to turn problem into an opportunity, among other competencies. They exhibit outstanding qualities of persistence, self-confidence, independence, calculated risk taking and commitment to quality. They impose on themselves high standard of performance and take calculated risks where everybody else avoids them. That is why we describe them as unique individuals with high entrepreneurial spirit, distinctive entrepreneurial mindset and distinguishing entrepreneurial behavior.
It is our strong conviction that these characteristics and qualities are beneficial not only to an exclusive entrepreneurial elite, but also to every member of society, and therefore to society as a whole. Whether one is a student, a teacher, a government officer, a corporate manager, a medical doctor, a salesperson, a factory worker, or a mother, we believe there is a reservoir of untapped potentials in everyone to think, behave and act like successful entrepreneurs without necessarily being in business!
An enterprising student is a diligent student who prepares her assignment with painstaking accuracy. An enterprising teacher is an innovative teacher who does not teach, but rather facilitates learning. An enterprising government officer is a conscientious officer who has the attitude of service. An enterprising manager is an inspired leader who motivates his staff to highest productivity and is not satisfied with mediocrity. An enterprising doctor is a sensitive professional who can extract a smile from every patients pain. An enterprising salesperson is a persuasive person who makes an expensive purchase look like a bargain to the buyer. An enterprising factory worker is an empowered team player who takes initiative in doing his job to the best of his ability. An enterprising mother is a bionic woman who is able to strike a delicate balance between career and family duties.
This is the essence of an enterprising society. If we are able to instill these characteristics in all individuals from all walks of life whether young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, we would have succeeded in carving building blocks of an enterprising society. If we are able to permeate these qualities through all sectors of our civil and political society, we would have cultivated an enterprising culture. If we are able to get rid of the word inefficiency from our vocabulary, and if we are able to stretch further the human imagination to solve problems, to innovate, and to sail beyond uncharted waters of invention and discovery, then we would have built the foundation for a prosperous country with a secure and enduring future.
In the words of former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun, an enterprising society must search for positive ways to cope with the dichotomies in the world today;
international cooperation versus international competition; economic development versus social development; industrial progress versus environmental sustainability. But an enterprising society must have a compassionate heart and a strong social responsibility. As the former Prime Minister stated, an enterprising society must be a caring society a society which sets certain moral standards for its members, giving a sense of dignity in showing respect and responsibility for others, and working towards the common good of a nation, and of mankind.
We in the Ministry of Industry, particularly the Department of Industrial Promotion, have been in the forefront of promoting entrepreneurship and enterprise development for several decades now. We are proud of our achievements and the best practices we set, yet we do not rest on our laurels because our mission remains unfinished. Our Ministry continues to trail blaze in pragmatic development modalities and to promote a strong private sector as our partner in forging an equitable socio-economic development.
As the Department of Industrial Promotion under our Ministry opens a new chapter in its existence by formally collaborating with a promising private tertiary educational institution, it truly extends the significance of public-private partnership and the meaning of public service.
It is, therefore, with great pleasure that we give the Department of Industrial Promotion our heartfelt blessings and our strong endorsement to enter into a cooperation agreement with Far Eastern College through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). It is my distinct honor to witness the signing of this agreement. May this Memorandum bring about valuable synergistic effects and contribute to the creation of an enterprising society in Northern Thailand. Finally, may this occasion truly serve as the beginning of a wonderful, fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship.
Congratulations and best wishes for a happy future to the two partners!