Give youth entrepreneurs more room for trial and error

I agree with Dr Patrick Liew Siow Gian on the importance of fostering youth entrepreneurship ("Craft blueprint to foster youth entrepreneurship"; Thursday).

Definitely, a "kiasu"culture is not conducive, and may even be detrimental, for entrepreneurs to innovate, create value and venture into uncharted waters ("'Kiasu' culture is stifling originality in business: NMP"; Wednesday).

In fact, failure is an indispensable part of innovation and entrepreneurship, championed by Silicon Valley and Google.

In addition to pedagogical transformation and enhanced partnership between industry and youth, more support should be given to youth entrepreneurs.

For students currently studying in tertiary institutions - university and polytechnics alike - how feasible is the idea of suspending their studies to start their own businesses? This unconventional path is, more often than not, regarded as too risky, and the consequence of failure is always daunting for many people.

Furthermore, the institutions do not have good frameworks in place to support students' entrepreneurial adventures.

Leave of absence from school is granted only for academic purposes, competitions and important personal reasons.

Apple's Steve Jobs, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft's Bill Gates are household names that serve as a reminder that many entrepreneurs chose to drop out of school to start their businesses - and they succeeded.

Will we have people like them in Singapore? Maybe.

If there is more room for trial and error given to youth, Singapore will see more of its youth venturing into the unknown and uncharted waters.

For example, students could apply for leave of absence for up to two years to try out their start-up ideas. Should they fail the first attempt, their institutions should still welcome them back on campus.

To put it succinctly, for innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish in our society, the fear of failure should be replaced with an open mind towards failure, which should even be embraced as an indispensable ingredient of success.

Qu Aohan (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2016, with the headline 'Give youth entrepreneurs more room for trial and error'. Print Edition | Subscribe