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Recently, my wife and I went to Tanjung Pinang in Bintan, Indonesia for a short break to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary. The town was the perfect setting for people like us who had never experienced the feel of the 1970’s as both of us were born in the 80’s.
Unlike Singapore, Tanjung Pinang is laid back. We had dinner one of the evenings and strolled on the beach. Tables and chairs placed by street vendors lined the waterfront.
With the sand beneath our feet, stars above us and the cool sea breeze blowing, our romantic conversation turned into something rather interesting and inspired me to write about it. It dawned on me that we needed to create opportunities for our youths to be entrepreneurs and foster an environment that would stimulate their creative juices.
Here in Singapore, I am sure that we have innovative youths aspiring to be entrepreneurs. Might it not be good for us to initiate a Young Entrepreneurship Programme? Relevant agencies such as National Environment Agency, National Parks Board, Urban Redevelopment Agency and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth could work together to designate an area, say at East Coast Park, for young Singaporeans to have a go at the street food business? With the right ingredients, the programme can be successful by cultivating our own entrepreneurs.
The area doesn’t need to be massive, perhaps a compound enough for several push-cart stalls hawking food & beverage as well as handicraft. There could also be a section for entertainment. We could start off operating only on weekends.
Interested young entrepreneurs could register and undergo some form of orientation or training. Each tenant-vendor would be given a one-year contract which can be extended based on viability of the business.
Such an initiative can create opportunities for young entrepreneurs to gain business experience and know-how (not to mention income). It can also provide recreational activities and entertainment for our stressed-out youths. It could also be a venue to showcase our budding talents and young artistes, ranging from musicians to stand-up comics. Providing free wi-fi would be an added attraction.
It’ll be a great place to hang out and given time the venue could become a must-visit place in Singapore, a new Youth Park (previously located in Orchard Road which now seems to be dead).
Who knows, this Young Entrepreneurship Programme might be the place where we nurture our own Richard Branson.
Jufri Salim is a member of the SDP’s Central Executive Committee. He is also the party’s Organising Secretary.