Entrepreneurship in Action

This article is an outcome of a questionnaire that Economic Times asked me to respond to, on entrepreneurship and Career Launcher’s endeavours in the entrepreneurial space….

Do you think “India has market for entrepreneurship?” In what ways can entrepreneurs add to the Indian economy? What kinds of entrepreneurs are you looking at? Rural? Young? Retired?

If we look at the last two decades of dramatic growth, it has been solely because of entrepreneurship in this country, though it has been limited to IT and ITES. We have started dramatic shifts in the bio-technology space too apart from automobile and ancillaries.

We foresee next two decades to be time for entrepreneurship, especially social entrepreneurship or entrepreneurship that will make some fundamental shifts in the rural economy. With over 70% of population still working in agriculture, with 95% of jobs present in unorganized sectors, come to think of it, the country has been chugging along only due to small and medium entrepreneurs or agripreneurs.

Career Launcher has moved into setting up schools in the villages of India that not only promote inquisitiveness among children from very young age that eventually will lead to innovative problem solving for rural issues, but also use these school infrastructures for Community Enabling Centres that will impart technical skills, life skills and entrepreneurial skills to the youth apart from promoting indigenous art forms, artisans and communities.

If as a nation we start focusing on greater enablement of these groups and also promote more enterprising youngsters to move into these spaces, we will not only alter the rural landscape, but also stem the flow of population to the urban India that is bursting at its seams. At times, some wizened by age but young at heart also start their journey of entrepreneurship, and we welcome them too. So EDUCATION and ENABLEMENT of YOUTH, rural and urban, is the key and that is the direction to go.

Whom does Career Launcher partner with to promote entrepreneurship? Various initiatives that you have undertaken? Explain the partnership in Detail? What was the prime objective? How did the idea germinate?

Career Launcher, as an organization, always stood for ‘Inspiring Leadership’ especially entrepreneurial. Every individual who is inducted is an ‘Intrapreneur’ and we evaluate an individual for ‘entrepreneurial leadership.’  Our every engagement with youngsters in schools and colleges, either during the career planning / motivational sessions or when we go to recruit, we share our journey and also journey of many an individual who dared to create their own path.

 WE MENTOR PEOPLE TO ‘MAKE JOBS’ AND NOT ‘TAKE A JOB.’

Having been in Education space, we always looked at an ‘educationist’ at heart to be an ‘inspiring leader,’ who by his own performance and interaction instills the spirit in youngsters they come across. If we look at our entire educational facilitation and learning centres across the country, over 100 of them are created by first time ‘edupreneurs,’ none from any business family. We are witnessing some of these edupreneurs moving into mainstream education space too.

We are building a unique business school, IWSB (Indus world school of business. www.iwsb.in) that focuses on entrepreneurial leadership, more importantly social entrepreneurship. Right now as I am responding to your questions, there are about fifty students working with various organizations across the country in the social sectors, experiencing the real India.

SRIJAN, a business plan and incubation competition of IWSB, saw more than 250 young teams pitching with their ideas from across the country. The three month process went through regional rounds hosted at IIT Bombay and Delhi, IIM Kolkata, IISc Bangalore with eminent panels evaluating the ideas. The finals were held at IWSB campus at Greater Noida wherein top 16 ideas were showcased. We are in the process of incubating the top six winners who emerged after evaluation by panels that included Prof Anil Gupta, serial entrepreneurs Mahesh Murthy, Vishwadeep Bajaj, Hitesh Oberoi, a few professors from IIMs, mentors from department of science and technology, a couple of young CEOs and private equity funders. We are very positive that many of these aspiring entrepreneurs are taking the challenges of creating alternatives that will be of use to the common man.

We have initiated partnerships with central and state governments that will eventually lead to inspiring youth in the countryside start their own small enterprises. We are involved in revitalizing 20 ITIs (industrial training institutes) with various state governments. We see this initiative in a couple of years creating ‘entrepreneurial enthusiasm’ among the rural youth. We have been partnered by states like Rajasthan to create SKILL SCHOOLS to make youth of the state employable. We would like to make sure some of them turn out to be entrepreneurs.

We have started partnering with great entrepreneurial facilitators like TIE, SRISTI, Deshpande Foundation etc.

TIE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, a global forum for promoting entrepreneurship initiated by South Asian entrepreneurs from silicon valley, now with presence in over 12 countries of the world. In each of the summits, TIE creates opportunities for students and youth from various institutions to rub shoulders with stalwarts from industry and other sectors to interact, question, share and get inspired. For more check on www.tie.org or http://www.tie.com

NIF, National Innovation Foundation (www.nifindia.com) and SRISTI (society for research and initiatives for sustainable technologies and institutions (www.sristi.org), are initiatives of Prof Anil Gupta from IIM Ahmedabad, that have contributed immensely in unearthing the innovations across the hinterland of India, and have been taking a few of them to market place every year, not limited to India but across the world. It is our privilege to associate with such a movement.

Deshpande Foundation (http://www.deshpandefoundation.org), initiated by Gururaj and Jaishree Deshpande, is invigorating grass root entrepreneurship in uttara kanara. Its work in fostering and promoting sustainable developmental initiatives is too exciting to be not associating with.

‘Partnering the state and central governments, along with like-minded organizations as stated above to foster entrepreneurship’ will be our cornerstone to empower the youth, urban and rural, to transform the REAL INDIA.

What kind of response are you looking at when economy is in Gloom? Kindly share a case study / testimonial.

It has always been observed that ENTREPRENEURSHIP BLOOMS when the ECONOMY is in GLOOM. Crisis begets the best.

A couple of months ago, I was in EAST CHAMPARAN, northern Bihar, considered to be one of the most backward districts of this country, during SHODH YATRA under the aegis of NIF. The aim is to unearth innovations from the countryside. It is no surprise that Mr. Saidullah, an elderly gentleman who has designed the amphibian bicycle, and awarded for innovation by none other than Dr. APJ Kalam, comes from this district.

We came across another gentleman, Mr. Sinha, who has developed a silensor for 14 KV generators that limits the noise pollution to just 5 metres and air pollution by almost 98%. He is being courted not only by some financial institutions to fund through NIF’s initiatives but also one of the large generator manufacturing company wants to manufacture his innovation to cater to large market that is just waiting to grab it. Mr. Sinha invested rupees six thousand from his pocket to innovate one piece, once it goes into mass production, the costs could dramatically come to three digits for the additional feature.

In the last couple of months many young men and women, who have been hitherto working for well-known corporates have quit all those ‘cushy’ positions to become edupreneures, started CL centres or initiating schools, and are dirtying their hands, right now so to speak, with a clear vision to make things happen.

So, many youngsters are restless to do something on their on, and they are looking at entrepreneurship very seriously. As a nation we should stroke it and make it happen.

How does your company assist the entrepreneurs when project gets approved by you? On what parameters do you evaluate the viability of a project?

Markets are always going to be there for innovations that can solve societal problems. They should be scalable and replicable. Indus World School of Business has an incubation lab that scouts for such people with ideas and passion, then invests and mentors if they are willing to dirty their hands.

We are always eager to strike or further our partnerships with entities like TIE, SRISTI, Deshpande foundation etc. so as to see that the ideas that emerge from corners of the country, from common men and women, find a place of pride under the sun and in the shelves of stores that each one of us walks into.

We are going to see many eminent entrepreneurs who have made their name in the last couple of decades jump into mentoring and funding young emerging entrepreneurial ideas, and we are definitely going to seek their help, co-opt them in our endeavours in this space.

For other organizations that intend to promote entrepreneurship, what advise do you have? How beneficial is partnering with local bodies / specialized institutions?

Good to have more organizations that is looking to promote entrepreneurship. I would like to confess that we ourselves are just ‘beginning’ our journey. It is a long and exciting journey and we would like to see as many jump into this exciting journey and swim even when tides are pushing one back. Partnering like-minded institutions will always help when the going gets tough.

“Careers in entrepreneurship are bound to catch up in India,” kindly comment

The whole of this discussion has been on this one sentence… Nation is waiting to explode entrepreneurially in every walk of life… let us facilitate it happen.

———————–

Looking forward to your inputs and comments… sreeni@careerlauncher.com

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