This descriptive study determined the challenges experienced by young entrepreneurs during their academic preparation and on the actual professional business experience. It also determined the success drivers as perceived by young entrepreneurs. The study identified 14 young entrepreneurs in General Santos City who qualified under the inclusion criteria which included his or her academic preparation such as school business practicum and a formalized legal business of his or her own. Frequency count, percentage and weighted average mean were used as the statistical methods. Based on the results of the study, the entrepreneurial experience acquired from the academic preparations of young entrepreneurs today greatly helped them in their actual business practice. It is supported by the elimination of the top challenges during the academic preparation in the top challenges determined during the respondents’ professional experience. However, despite the existence of such present challenges, young entrepreneurs continue to strive in order to be successful in their respective businesses while upholding ethical practices primarily founded upon by honesty and integrity in delivering quality products and services. It is recommended that Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) should continue to incorporate relevant performance tasks and/or practicum in their business courses or program in order to achieve reinforced and concrete learning through the assessment of ready-for-actual market products and services. An evaluation of existing subjects with practical requirements must be made focusing on addressing the challenges and problems that dwell on Financial Management, People Management, Stress Management, and Business Leadership and Ethics was also an important recommendation.
Young entrepreneurs in today’s generation are generally categorized as millennials. As the first digitally native generation, these business innovators have seen an era of unprecedented development that impacts their everyday life. It is no wonder that the millennials view of innovation has been rigorously involved in pursuing innovative solutions to solve current challenges. Combine innovation with today’s highly interconnected world, these young entrepreneurs have access to nearly everything needed to enable them to start their own business.
According to Tuffile (2015), Bentley University Director of Entrepreneurial Studies, millennials are realizing that starting a company, even if it crashes and burns, teaches them more in two years rather than sitting in a cubicle for 20 years. They believe, however, that innovation plays more of a role than simply adding to a company’s bottom line. In its Third Annual Millennials Study, Deloitte held 80 percent of millennials view business innovation as positively impacting society and providing a launch pad for new ideas. Perhaps, driven by the need for purpose and meaning in their careers, millennials entrepreneurs tend to see the world through a very different lens than the generation before them.
In a study on entrepreneurship by Conchada (2013), the population of the Philippines is young with nearly 70% aged below 30 years and with an average age of 23.4 years as of 2010. The youth also accounts for the largest portion of the unemployed Filipinos. This is despite the 300 start-ups in the country, most of which were founded between 2012 and 2017 (QBO Innovation Hub and PwC Philippines, 2018). The study further indicated that this group of locals, who are under the age of 35 as of this year, is estimated to amount to 69.5 million of the population. Clearly, there is a large untapped portion of the youth who could have opted to start an enterprise.
The Philippines is an entrepreneurial country which has small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), including micro-enterprises, account for 99 percent of all business establishments and 60 percent of the exporting firms in the Philippines. According to the Department of Trade and Industry, SME’s currently employ about 55 percent of the Philippine labor force and contribute 30 percent to total domestic sales volume.
Among the current problems that Filipino entrepreneurs encounter today are the inadequate access to technology, financing capital, marketing advice and logistical problems in setting up and maintaining their competitiveness in their community. For this reason, the Philippine government has identified the need to foster entrepreneurial spirit to jumpstart the lagging economy.
To further emphasize the importance of developing entrepreneurship education, a recent study by the Center for Asia Pacific Studies reveals that out of every 100 children enrolled every year, 66 will complete elementary education, 42 will finish high school and only 14 will earn a college degree. A study by Smart Communications adds, only 7.7% of graduates get employed. This means that out of 100 children that go to school, only one will end up getting a job. The scarcity of jobs has further contributed to the exodus of skilled workers abroad, where 2,000 Filipinos leave the country everyday to seek higher income and greater opportunities in career advancement.
In an article by Allison (2016), according to the President and CEO of RFM Corporation, a viable solution to overcome these challenges today is by promoting entrepreneurship and giving Filipinos the proper knowledge and tools to start their own businesses. He further added that the importance of developing an innovative and entrepreneurial culture is a crucial part of the Philippines developed state future. Entrepreneurship directly leads to more businesses, more job opportunities and better quality of life.
There are 24 million youth in the Philippines today and counting. Of these 24 million, 39% or 9.36 million are part of the labor force while 40% or 9.6 million are living below the poverty line. Encouraging young people to consider business ownership as a viable option is becoming increasingly important given the current trend towards globalization.
In General Santos City, the Department of Trade and Industry in coordination with the local government through the City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office (CEMCDO) as well as the Board of Investments (BOI) recognizes the potential significant contribution of the youth in boosting the economy as well as in solving various societal issues and problems. Programs and activities such as the DTI Go Negosyo, Yaman Gensan, Young Entrepreneurs Fair and various investment forums and seminars are among the pertinent actions materialized.
In all of these, Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs)have been responsive as well in supporting the programs of the government being primary partners in achieving the objectives of economic and social development. The performance of these institutions is critical enough to ensure the success of economic and social development.The researchers, therefore, are motivated to identify the challenges encountered by young entrepreneurs during academic preparation and professional business experiences which serve as bases in formatting the recommendations for concerned organizations and institutions to better provide the necessary services.
Statement of the Problem
This study determined the challenges and success drivers of young entrepreneurs in General Santos City. Specifically, this study answered the following questions:
- What is the profile of young entrepreneurs, in terms of:
- college degree; and
- entrepreneurial experience/s?
- What is the profile of the businesses owned by young entrepreneurs, in terms of:
- type of business;
- start-up capitalization;
- number of years in operation; and
- number of employees?
- What are the challenges encountered by young entrepreneurs, considering their:
- academic preparation; and
- professional experiences?
- What are drivers of success among young entrepreneurs?
- What recommendations can be made to better assist the young entrepreneurs in General Santos City?
This study used the descriptive type of research. It aimed to describe the challenges and success drivers of 14 young entrepreneurs in General Santos City who met the respondent inclusion criteria of those entrepreneurs who have started their business on at least 35 years old and below, college graduate from schools that offer business practicum, and personally own and run the business with complied government requirements. The snowball sampling method was used in the study. It involved primary data sources nominating another potential primary data source used in the research. The statistical tools used in this study were frequency, percentage, ranking and weighted mean.
Summary of Findings
- Majority of the young entrepreneurs in General Santos City started at the age of 26- 30 years old with equal number from both sexes. All have acquired entrepreneurial experience from school business practicum but most have more experience from family-owned business.
- Most of the businesses are food-based service-oriented businesses. Those who are into manufacturing are also into food and beverage production. Only few are into non-food service-oriented business.
- The amount of start-up capitalization are widely dispersed from the least capital of less than P50,000 to as much as P500,000 and more, most of which are into non-food service-oriented business.
- Most of the businesses are sole proprietorship in form which have been operating for 1-5 years employing less than 10 workers.
- The top challenge experienced during the academic preparation when entrepreneurs were students then is the lack of knowledge/ experience about starting a business.
- The top challenge encountered by young entrepreneurs during the professional experience is the physical exhaustion.
- Young entrepreneurs perceive that the top drivers to success are the quality goods and services, honesty and integrity and passion. Remarkably, few drivers to success were perceived as less than extremely important. These are luck or good fortune, inherent talent, enough entrepreneurial experience and academic excellence.
Based on the results of the study, it can be concluded that the entrepreneurial experience acquired from the academic preparation of young entrepreneurs today greatly helped them in their actual business practice. The lack of knowledge/ experience about starting a business did not surface already during the actual business practice. However, despite the existence of such present challenges, young entrepreneurs continue to strive in order to be successful in their respective businesses while upholding ethical practices primarily founded upon by honesty and integrity in delivering quality products and services. They also believe, in general, that success is not greatly dependent on any fortune, talent, experience or academic excellence but rather a product of hard work and commitment.
Based on the findings and conclusions, the following recommendations were formulated:
- Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) should continue to incorporate relevant performance tasks and/or practicum in their business courses or program in order to achieve a reinforced and concrete learning through the assessment of ready-for-actual market products and services.
- An evaluation of existing subjects with practical requirements must be made, focusing on addressing the challenges and problems that dwell on the following:
- Financial Management with special concern to capital sourcing, budgeting and maintaining liquidity and solvency;
- People Management with special concern to hiring and selection as well as effective work delegation;
- Stress Management (both physical and emotional); and
- Business Leadership And Ethics.
- HEIs should have full and active support and participation to intra-institution competitions such as the NDEA Business Congress and inter-institution competitions in both local [e.g. Young Entrepreneurs’ Fair (YEF) under Yaman Gensan and national/international level.
- The national government through its enabling agency, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in coordination with relevant other relevant agencies and government units such as, but not limited to, the Board of Investments and local government units, implement and/or support programs which objective is to create opportunities as well as aid young entrepreneurs in order to encourage entrepreneurs starting at a young age.
- A formal and recognized association of Young Entrepreneurs in the locality must be incorporated to boost their morale and serve as a body which addresses various issues and concerns affecting its members.
- Further study should be made extending its scope to include young entrepreneurs from other parts of the region most likely in SOCCSKSARGEN.
- Methodology could be improved by considering the use of systematic questioning techniques that provide more directly observable results (i.e. adoption of questionnaires from refereed research journal).
- Focused Group Discussions could be intensified including more diversified respondents by profile (i.e. by type of business, by form of business organization, by size – micro, small, medium or even large enterprises).
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