Image credit: Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, July 30 — Youth in the country should embrace the cooperative movement and entrepreneurship to improve their level of income, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In this regard, he said the youth should not merely look at cooperatives as being voluntary organisations, but as vehicles to create a business identity and further instill a culture of entrepreneurship in themselves.

“Make it (cooperatives and entrepreneurship) a career and not focus too much on (businesses in the form of) products only, but also look at (providing) services, and apart from that, also look at how it can prioritise rural youth, so that the income growth is more balanced.

“I also see that cooperatives need to play a role in creating an entrepreneurial spirit among the youth through training and so on,” he said during a press conference after officiating the closing ceremony of the Asia Pacific Cooperative Youth Summit (APCYS) 4.0 here today.

Also present were Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Ewon Benedick, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin, and Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Abidin Madingkir.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Minister of Rural and Regional Development, said cooperatives and entrepreneurship could also help in reducing the unemployment rate among youth in the country.

“This field involves not only salaried employment but also entrepreneurship, therefore we (in the government) are working together and not solo towards this aspiration, and we hope that we can realise this effort (reducing unemployment among youth) through the various ministries as well as the state government,” he said.

He said the government, especially through the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives had various mechanisms to encourage more youth to get involved in the field, including through funding and business guidance.

Meanwhile, in his speech when closing the event, Ahmad Zahid said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when tabling Budget 2023 had stated that the unemployment rate for Malaysians aged 24 and younger remained above 10 per cent, and that it was one of the government’s priorities to reduce it.

“Through Budget 2023, a few measures have been highlighted to assist youth in coping with the cost of living and easing their economic burdens, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds, including access to financing and upskilling programmes,” he said.

The Deputy Prime Minister said he believed that the cooperative sector provided one of the best opportunities for youth to develop their entrepreneurial abilities, thereby increasing their marketability.

“Developing youth into constructive contributors to a nation’s development requires a concerted effort that transcends specific entities and ministries. It encompasses every aspect of society, regardless of formal roles,” he said.