Offer grants to senior entrepreneurs

I was heartened to read that the Government would be giving companies bigger grants to redesign jobs for older workers ("More help for companies to support older workers"; last Thursday).

It is a solution where Government, employers and employees all win. Older workers will benefit by having the opportunity to contribute and keep active in old age.

There is still room for change in other frontiers, such as with regard to funds to encourage entrepreneurship.

Thus far, such schemes have targeted the young. There is the perception that seniors are risk-averse and not interested in starting business ventures.

In fact, there are many seniors who contemplated starting businesses when they were younger but did not have the time and money to do so.

Retirement has freed them to pursue their interests, but they need to be conservative in their financial management.

If there is financial assistance given to them, similar to what is given to younger entrepreneurs, these seniors would gladly start their own companies.

I propose that part of the $66 million grant to redesign jobs be given directly to self-employed seniors.

With their years of working and industry experience, the probability of these entrepreneurs succeeding will definitely be better than the younger, experimental business innovators.

Ageism should be tackled not just in the institutional establishments, but also in the wider social and economic spheres.

By providing funding and encouragement to seniors to start their own businesses, the Manpower Ministry and Workforce Development Agency will get wider coverage and higher productivity with the same dollar.

After all, the most motivated and productive workers must be the self-employed and/or start-up outfits.

Geoffrey Kung

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'Offer grants to senior entrepreneurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe