Joseph Chia and Kenneth Yap graduated last year from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in civil engineering and business, respectively. But instead of looking for cushy jobs in air-conditioned offices, they became hawkers, selling fried intestines, cuttlefish and century-egg porridge in a Clementi coffee shop. After securing the first franchise from Tiong Bahru Porridge, which has been around for 46 years, they used almost all their savings to set up their new stall. A typical 'kiasu' Singaporean - who wants to get the best deal possible and the most out of anything they pay for - would say the two students wasted the investments of their parents, who brought them up, and the city state, which provided them with a professional education. He may even attack the university for producing second-rate graduates, jokes Su Guaning, NTU president. But last week, the two budding entrepreneurs were praised by no less than Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, as an example of risk-takers. Indeed, the two recent graduates already have several branches, are earning more than their former classmates and have obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars of venture funding. They are even planning to go into the airline catering market and have some target customer airlines in their sights. They achieved all this within a few months of starting their venture. Entrepreneurship has become the buzzword in Singapore in the last few months. Raymond Lim, the recently appointed minister for entrepreneurship, has been busy raising the flag - in the last week he has made at least three speeches on the issue - talking to journalists, would-be entrepreneurs and students. Singapore needs more entrepreneurs to move towards an innovation-driven economy if it wants to remain competitive. But changing the mindset of pampered Singaporeans will not be easy, as the effect of 37 years of paternalism will not wane overnight. 'We lived in a society where we had to get things right the first time, but entrepreneurs often go through an errors-and-correction process before getting it right,' says associate professor Tan Teng Kee, director of the Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre. This fear of risk and failure could prove the main impediment to finding local entrepreneurs. Indeed, many young entrepreneurs or would-be entrepreneurs seem to regularly ask the government to 'show me the money'. But although the government is willing to help to some extent, Mr Lim is also trying to change the mentality by repeating the mantra that entrepreneurs have to survive on their own, in a sink-or-swim fashion. 'The primary provider of capital for businesses must be the financial markets,' he said. Giving handouts or underwriting risks would undermine the spirit of self-reliance that is second nature to any entrepreneur.