Technopreneurship Among the Youth as Supporting Factors for Economic Sustainability of ASEAN towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Written by Cavin Dennis Tito Siregar

Science and Technology have never stopped advancing since the very first time humans invented fire. The fact that we are experiencing The Fourth Industrial Revolution has opened a wide gate of opportunities to everyone. Those who can make use of such opportunities will prevail. ASEAN, being one of the most diverse regions, shall unite and utilize this opportunity.

For the first time in the history of living standards ordinary people have experienced sustainable growth. This kind of economic behavior has never happened before.

(Robert E. Lucas, 2017)

  1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Curiosity is in our DNA. This is what underlies the rapid development of Science and Technology that enables humans to classify epochs in each transition of their lives according to the standard of living which applies at that time. Beginning in the 18th century, the first Industrial Revolution was marked by the mechanization of production through steam power which gave rise to the proletarian. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution was marked by the automation of mass production.

At this time, countries worldwide competed to bring innovation in the automobile industry and build large scale electrical networks. The third industrial revolution in the 1950s was

marked by the development of digital systems and information technology. Industries become increasingly rapid with the development of computer-based automation. Industrial machineries work automatically through computer. Humans at this time have become the supervisor of these machines.

Artificial intelligence, robot technology, big data and Internet of Things connect human lives so easily with one another. Some even argue about humans being replaced with their own technology. The Industrial Revolution 4.0 could have a negative impact on the government that stutters and cannot utilize rapid technological developments (Schwab, 2017). While the Fourth Industrial Revolution comes with massive improvement in productivity, with it comes the replacement of human labor.

Automation has come a long way since the 19th century. Wealthy markets, such as The Gulf States, have the resources to invest in new technologies, and those with better established manufacturing sectors, such as the countries in Southeast Asia, appear best placed to reap the benefits of the revolution. The global economy is entering the 4th Industrial Revolution based on the application of advanced automation all the way from production to service delivery. The transformative impact of this revolution will require countries to think deeply about their policies and priorities on a national scale.

Many ASEAN governments are well aware of this need and have launched national responses, such as Thailand 4.0, Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, Making Indonesia 4.0, The Philippines’ inclusive Innovation Industrial Strategy (I3S), etc. However, some of the greatest impacts of the 4th Industrial Revolution will play not on a national scale but at a regional scale. The nature of cross-border relations and economic interaction will be revolutionized. It will not be enough to think only about a national response. In the years ahead, regional organizations like ASEAN will be called upon ever more heavily to help steer and shape these historic transformations.

And yet, given the accelerating speed of technological advancement, shaping regional policies is growing increasingly harder. It means that ASEAN and organizations like it will need to redesign the way they manage regional governance.

  1. Trade, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Sustainability of ASEAN

Today, entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of economies all over the world. Even in a command economy like China, entrepreneurs are valued for their contributions to the economy and encouraged to innovate to compete with companies worldwide. The global economy, combined with modern infrastructure and communications, has introduced a new age of

competition to the world of entrepreneurship. There will no longer be competition within ASEAN’s own tribe, town, village, or city, instead competition will be held among entrepreneurs worldwide.

Many of these entrepreneurs can access cheaper means of production than before. They may have better access to raw resources of cheap labor, for example. This has made modern entrepreneurship more challenging and arguably more rewarding than ever before.

As a region, ASEAN has dramatically outpaced the rest of the world in growth of GDP per capita since the late 1970s. Income growth has remained strong since 2000, with the average annual real gains of more than 5 percent. In comparison, ASEAN has real GDP growth of 66% in the Asia-Pacific from 2006 to 2015. According to a study by McKinsey, in the year 2000, 14 percent of the region’s population is living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day (calculated in purchasing-power-parity terms), but by 2013, that share had fallen to just 3 percent. Already several million households in the ASEAN countries have incomes that allow them to make significant discretionary purchases.

That number could reach 125 million households by 2025, making ASEAN an important consumer market. ASEAN has long heeded the connectivity imperative, and the benefits of regional cooperation and economic integration, through initiatives such as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), are paying dividends. ASEAN commands a combined GDP of about $2.4 trillion, and GDP per capita has increased by 63.2% from 2007 to 2015. If it were a single country, it would be among the top 10 economic powers in the world.

To further drive growth, ASEAN and its six strategic partners will come together in November for the anticipated signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This will create the world’s largest free-trade area, representing nearly 30% of global GDP, and will demonstrate ASEAN’s commitment to removing barriers to trade and expanding market access both within the region and with its partners.

There is a substantial list of opportunities associated with AEC integration. For instance, economic integration provides opportunities to boost economic stability in the region. Another benefit is that integration would turn ASEAN into a more competitive region within the world economy. A stronger regional economy will help to improve the living standards of the ASEAN population by reducing poverty through economic development.

ASEAN member countries expect to achieve greater economic cooperation in the areas of financial policies, trade, and human capital. AEC integration will also serve to promote goods and services, investment, labor mobilization, and mobilization of capital. The ASEAN region could potentially become a highly competitive economic union operating as a single market. ASEAN also intends to improve regional agricultural and industrial utilization, as well as expand trade, and improve transportation and infrastructure.

As an example, Six Southeast Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, are the most suitable countries for entrepreneurial goals. The population in these six countries reaches 9% of the world’s population. While the Gross

Domestic Product (GDP) reaches 3.17% of world GDP. This makes these six countries considered capable of being a land for establishing trade, business and economic partnerships. Thus, the results of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the world’s foremost study of entrepreneurship, establish the conduct of entrepreneurial research comprehensively in six Southeast Asian countries.

  1. The Future of ASEAN’s Technopreneurship

The process of organizational creativity is a process of mainstreaming innovation or continually finding important corporate problems, solving those problems, and implementing the solutions to satisfy the global market and is referred to as Technopreneurship (S.O.O., 2014). Technopreneurship emerges when entrepreneurship is combined with the development of Science and Technology. The equation between entrepreneurship and Technopreneurship is caring for profit. But Technopreneurship, aside from caring for profit, also cares about the development of Science and Technology.

A Technopreneur is an entrepreneur who understands technology, who is creative, innovative, dynamic, and dares to be different. They take paths that have not been explored, and are very excited about their work. ASEAN is home to an abundant of natural resources and is one of the world’s largest producers of agricultural commodities. Many ASEAN Member States (AMS) used this endowment as a springboard for industrialization, and today the region is a thriving hub for global manufacturing and trade. These developments have been supported by a number of common trends: most AMS have achieved sound macroeconomic fundamentals and a high savings rate, and they demonstrate relatively open trading systems with a young, rapidly growing population.

The creation of the AEC promises to open up sizeable new market opportunities for ASEAN firms, including SMEs, yet it also threatens to open up new challenges. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of ASEAN economies. Between 89% and 99% of enterprises within ASEAN are SMEs, providing between 52% and 97% of employment in member states. They’re also an important source of innovation. But many SMEs are limited in their ability to grow because of lack of access to finance, business services and information, and constrained access to markets beyond their immediate neighborhoods.

However, the rise of digital marketplaces and online services can empower and support SMEs to trade in ways that was unimaginable even a few years ago, connecting them to giant, regional

markets rather than just local customers. There are 6 unicorn Technopreneurship or e-commerce that are widely-known, which are Gojek (Indonesia), Grab (Malaysia), Lazada (Chinna), Sea (Singapore), Tokopedia (Indonesia), Traveloka (Indonesia), etc.

  1. ASEAN Youth’s Role on Technopreneurship

The youth are an important section of the population in any country in the world and are in need of attention as they are both our current and future leaders and the catalyst for economic, social, and cultural development. Over the years, the ASEAN youth have become more aware and more involved in building and promoting the ASEAN Community. There are currently 213 million youth (15-34 years) in ASEAN countries, constituting the largest ever cohort of ASEAN youth. The peak population of just over 220 million is expected in 2038.

Technopreneurship in its development is always associated with technological developments that end in internet use. With a total population of 644.1 million, ASEAN holds 8.4% of the world’s total population. 53% of the population are internet users. This gives benefits to technopreneurs to develop Technopreneurship in Southeast Asia. Adding to 35% of the ASEAN population is the younger generation.

Technopreneurship is sometimes connected to the youth’s role in all countries in the world. Youth is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence. That’s why, as a category, youth is more fluid than other fixed age-groups. Yet, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and

employment, because ‘youth’ is often referred to a person between the ages of leaving compulsory education, and finding their first job.

Adopting a standardised definition of youth is complex as there is no definition which is universally recognised (Global YDI Report, 2016). The complexity comes from the different aspects and issues involved in the transition stages of young people’s development from adolescence to adulthood. The UN definition of youth is 15-24 years and the Commonwealth Global Youth Development Index definition is 15-29 years. In the context of ASEAN Member States (AMS), the age ranges of youth are defined in the law and regulations which exist in each country.

It should be noted, however, that the age ranges available for the indicators do not align with this definition. Should further disaggregation by age become available in the future, this may improve the accuracy of the picture provided of the youth in the region by the YDI, which stands for Youth Development Index, in ASEAN.

The emergence of Technopreneurship provides great support to the government, related institutions, and also ASEAN youth. ASEAN youth, with their enthusiasm and abilities, are able to adapt to the development of science and technology, specifically the internet. This can be seen from the Technopreneurship unicorn leaders in Southeast Asia, mostly young people. For example, e-commerce is a subsidiary of SEA Group originating from Singapore. Christin Djuarto, 29, right on February 2018 served as Director of Shopee Indonesia.

Not only that, the founder of Gojek and CEO of Gojek, Nadiem Anwar Makarim, founded Gojek in 2015 when he was 31 years old and still adrift as a youth in Southeast Asia. Therefore, the youth have roles in the development of Technopreneurship which is very promising not only in ASEAN but also in the world. However, most young people feel optimistic and pessimistic about the development of technology or the internet for their work later. But again, it takes good cooperation and contribution between all parties so that this can work well and the younger generation can be encouraged to be more enthusiastic.

The ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF) has committed itself to upholding meaningful youth participation in the following:

  1. Realising action-based activities on youth issues at the national, sub-regional, and regional levels.
  2. Engaging key participants including civil society, youth-relevant bodies at the national, regional, and international level through meaningful dialogues and activities.
  3. Expanding influences with other significant groups in ASEAN and beyond.
  4. Strengthening capacity of this body/organization/ network and other related groups in the region.
  5. Bringing youth in the region to take part in the movement towards the ASEAN Community 2015. The AYF believes that the pursuance of a Youth Development Index, initiated by ASEAN and its Member States, will open doors for young people to be involved in more meaningful engagements at the regional and national levels.

Technopreneurship provides a way and guidance for the progress of ASEAN countries to achieve and realize the vision of the Industrial Revolution 4.0. This is reflected in the development of science and technology in vital sectors that support the economies of ASEAN countries. With population growth increasing every year and supported by human resources, which constitutes the many young people, ASEAN is becoming ready to face the Industrial Revolution 4.0. The development of Technopreneurship or e-commerce is often associated with the younger generation, who, recently, has become the originator of the largest e-commerce in ASEAN.

The youth are the country’s biggest treasure, in which they will become future leaders in ASEAN countries. Therefore, the government and related institutions should establish good cooperation with the younger generation, so that the generation of pride in ASEAN countries can be created to bring ASEAN to unity in the world.


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