Ms Dora Ho Yin Leng, senior lecturer and manager at SP Business School (Entrepreneurship/Human Resources) with some of the students currently undergoing the Spell programme.
Seven years ago, to meet a rising demand for local entrepreneurs, Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) Business School introduced the Entrepreneurship Option to third-year students taking the Diploma in Business Administration programme.
Students taking the Diploma in Business & Information Technology course from the School of Digital Media & Infocomm Technology can also choose the Entrepreneurship Concentration at the end of their second year.
Ms Dora Ho Yin Leng, senior lecturer and manager at SP Business School (Entrepreneurship/Human Resources).
The programme initially started with 18 students but has now expanded to 38 students. The maximum quota for the course is 40 to ensure that students are "provided with better mentoring by lecturers and industry mentors," explained Ms Dora Ho Yin Leng, a senior lecturer and manager at SP Business School (Entrepreneurship/Human Resources).
Four SP Business School lecturers, including Ms Ho, are coaching the students. Ms Ho stated with pride that SP “is the leading polytechnic in entrepreneurship education".
Developing entrepreneurial thinking and skills at SPELL.
“Whether students start their own business or work for an organisation, developing entrepreneurial thinking and skills are key concepts that will contribute to their success,” she said.
Ms Ho added, "SP is the first polytechnic and still probably the only polytechnic that requires Entrepreneurship students to invest their own money and run a registered business before they graduate."
This allows students to directly apply what they have learnt and independently plan their own business - usually a small one - from conceptualisation to execution. Examples of students’ businesses ranged from online retailing to selling bean curd with a unique brand name.
Students are given the opportunity to supply their products to SPELL - or Singapore Polytechnic Entrepreneurship Living Lab - a retail outlet which is a joint collaboration between SP and Changi Airport Group (CAG). SPELL is the first of its kind amongst the polytechnics to provide students with authentic learning experiences.
"We will buy from them like any other supplier. Students have to learn to be competitive. We will not buy from them just because they are students but because the product quality is good and their pricing is competitive," said Ms Ho, who is overseeing this collaboration with CAG.
Besides learning at SPELL over two semesters, Entrepreneurship students undertake a Mentorship Attachment Programme as well.
Instead of the conventional Industrial Attachment, the students are mentored by seasoned entrepreneurs who offer invaluable tips on what it takes to operate a successful business.
To further enrich and widen the students’ scope of learning, SP Business School organises entrepreneurship study trips abroad as well.
This year, lecturers and students went to Bangkok, Thailand's capital, where they visited factories, retailers as well as the Assumption University.
Besides observing entrepreneurship education offered at the university, students experienced first-hand the various facets of trading as they sourced for products for SPELL.
From making key purchasing decisions to accounting for the money spent, such trips abroad enable the students to put into practice what they have learnt in the classroom.
Another initiative, the Entrepreneurship Seed Fund, took off in November 2012, with scholarships awarded to Entrepreneurship students annually.
The fund was set up by SP Business School with industry support to aid students with seed money for their start-ups and three groups of students have since benefited from the fund.
Ms Ho sums up the school's philosophy, “We nurture well-rounded students to prepare them for a lifetime of careers as opposed to a career for life in this ever-changing economic landscape."