THE closing ceremony of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2013 (GES 2013) in Kuala Lumpur literally finished with a big bang!
We hosted 4,700 delegates, we showcased exemplary young entrepreneurs, we deliberated on the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs worldwide and we announced a new initiative named "MaGIC"! The audience also witnessed the passing of the baton from Malaysia to Morocco, who will host GES 2014.
As I reflect on the achievements of Malaysia as the host this year, I can't help but try to understand the true intention of President Barack Obama when he first conceptualised the GES four years ago in Cairo. He did so because he understood that freedom of opportunity is humanity's most powerful motivator.
During his opening remarks of GES 2013, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said what unfolded in the historic city of Cairo and other Muslim cities, such as Tunis, Tripoli and Sana'a, was that the world watched young men and women demand the chance to be able to have a say in the future, to define it and turn dreams into businesses.
Obama understood that entrepreneurship is more than just making profits. It's about how you build a society that values competition and compassion at the same time. It's about making people's lives better through education, healthcare and basic human rights.
As we talk about the Muslim world and the impact of policies on the society, I can't help but reflect on the word "sacrifice".
We are at the time of the year where the true meaning of Aidiladha, or Hari Raya Qurban, will be better understood by people from all walks of life.
Aidiladha coincides with the culmination of haj - the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. It commemorates the zenith of sacrificial spirit demonstrated by Prophet Ibrahim when he willingly offered to sacrifice his son, Prophet Ismail, upon Allah's injunction.
On the occasion of Aidiladha (Festival of Sacrifice), affluent Muslims all over the world perform the Sunnah of Prophet Ibrahim by sacrificing an animal. The sacrificial animal may be a lamb, a sheep, a goat, a camel or a cow. The animal must be healthy and conscious... "therefore to the Lord turn in prayer and sacrifice". (Qur'an, Al-Kawthar).
Qurban is an Islamic prescription for the affluent to share their good fortune with the needy in the community. The Quran states that the sacrifice has nothing to do with the blood and gore (Qur'an 22:37: "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches God. It is your piety that reaches Him..."). It is done to help the poor and in remembrance of Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail at God's command.
Aidiladha begins with prayers in the morning when all believers come together, following which they are enjoined to meet and greet each other, encouraging the community spirit and brotherly feeling.
After the prayers people are enjoined to meet and greet, which spread warmth. After the animal is sacrificed, it has to be divided into three equal portions, one given away to the poor, the second to relatives and friends and the third portion kept for the person who has sacrificed the animal.
This act encourages the spirit of giving and caring.
In fact, Mahatma Gandhi once said: "The law of sacrifice is uniform throughout the world. To be effective, it demands the sacrifice of the bravest and the most spotless."
It is my conviction that such quality of sacrifice is truly inherent in entrepreneurs, especially the young ones.
What I saw at the recently concluded GES 2013 were young brave, daring, strong-willed, dynamic and powerful entrepreneurs who are the "game changers" in shaping Malaysia's nation-building landscape and social and economic transformation process towards a developed, high-income nation.
Young entrepreneurs are now actively contributing to the nation's well-being. They assume multiple roles not just limited to working professionals, social workers and business owners, but we are now seeing that their sacrifices for the family and the country are limitless, juggling competing priorities to balance between family and career.
The strong will and motivation, high spirits, tenacity, perseverance and their willingness to make sacrifices in overcoming the many challenges and adversities, which only the young understood, are the underlying factors propelling them to succeed and achieve their personal, career and business goals.
In appreciation of the role the young can play, the government has created various opportunities and platforms of great value to accelerate the development and growth of young entrepreneurs in nation-building.
I firmly believe that this continuous endeavour by the government is a "sacrifice" in lieu of a long list of other priorities in the national agenda. Growth is pertinent and sacrifice is part and parcel of the journey towards success. I encourage all young entrepreneurs to embrace the opportunities available to them, but most important of all, is to make their dreams come true.
If you dare to dream, you must also dare to fail. There is no shortcut to success.
A famous American author, Napoleon Hill said: "Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness."
Let us welcome Aidiladha by reflecting and seeking our greater purpose in life, by giving and sacrificing for self and others whenever plausible and by embracing every positive aspect that supports individual and the growth of the nation.
"Selamat Hari Raya Aidiladha everyone!" Datuk Hafsah Hashim
is the chief executive officer of Small and Medium Enterprises Corporation Malaysia (SME Corp Malaysia)