Singaporeans are now more open to entrepreneurship and risk-taking and less uptight about failure, said Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Trade and Industry.
Drawing on her own experience as a former Economic Development Board (EDB) director, she told participants at a youth entrepreneurship event yesterday that attitudes towards failure have improved considerably from the situation in 2001.
Back then, Ms Low, who played a role in developing the entrepreneurial landscape and professional services sector for EDB, had been tasked to promote the Phoenix award, which recognises entrepreneurs who made a successful comeback after braving failure.
She approached several famous entrepreneurs, but found it difficult to convince even five to nominate themselves for the award.
"They were quite shy about nominating themselves... this reflects the stigma of failure that is very real in Asian society," she said.
Now, the situation has "really gotten better", said Ms Low at the opening of the ninth Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium, organised by the youth arm of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC).
She said youth have also become "very open-minded" about their choices in life, seeking paths that deviate from conventional routes like working in the civil service or multi-national corporations.
Mr Yeo Khee Leng, chief executive of NTUC Club, agreed, noting that there has been more interest in entrepreneurship among students.
"More youth are taking the unconventional route," he noted, citing the rise in participants from 80 at the inaugural symposium in 2007 to 350 this year as testament to how interest has grown.
Over the three-day symposium, participants will attend talks and networking events with start-up founders, and learn about aspects of entrepreneurship such as pitching and coming up with business ideas, and digital marketing.
Mr James Lye, 20, a Singapore Polytechnic aerospace electronics student, organised the symposium last year and co-founded a start-up called Personal Media, an app which connects people across different social media channels.
Mr Lye, who secured Spring Singapore funding of $50,000 last year for his start-up, said Singapore provides a conducive eco-system for start-ups. "Funding, mentors and accelerator programmes are widely available," he said.