Jane Chang and Alison Rieple have been in Malaysia for a week meeting small business owners in the State of Sabah. They presented discussion papers at a colloquium organised by the University of Malaysia Sabah (UMS) in Kota Kinabalu, which was set up in order to improve the sustainability and economic viability of local rural MSE businesses. Jane and Dr Bona Boniface from UMS, have received a £10,000 Newton Mobility Fund grant to transfer research and knowledge about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning to rural communities in developing countries. Workshop participants were all involved in working with improving the economic and social situation of local businesses.
The research that Jane and Alison have undertaken on entrepreneurial learning and innovation adoption by Malaysian palm oil smallholders has also already resulted in papers in top entrepreneurship and management learning journals. This work has come about through the relationship with UMS.
The workshop that Jane and Alison were presenting is part of the process of disseminating the research findings and demonstrating the impact of the research. A memorandum of understanding is under discussion which will hopefully lead to further collaboration between Westminster Business School and UMS, notably in student exchanges, from undergraduate to doctoral level, and joint research into sustainability and innovation in rural businesses.
Photos from Jane's trip
There are challenges in getting to some rural businesses – this one required a trip across a ravine on a rickety suspension bridge.
Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, the Chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board and Member of Parliament for the local area, who joined workshop participants on a visit to local micro-businesses. Here he is shown discussing some of the issues to do with building an eco and agro tourism business in the area.
The production of honey from ‘stingless’ bees, by a small producer that will be part of the training programme. It will focus especially on branding, pricing and packaging strategies.
Jane hand feeds the fish that are caught only once a year – and command a hefty price when they are sold.