It is well known fact that India is a country of opposites. However, the paradox in entrepreneurship is rather inconspicuous .What is alarming is however is that while Indians are inherently entrepreneurial and they find it very difficult to set up and run businesses with ease. Constraints like access to technical knowledge, finance, market and poor entrepreneurship capacities inhibit enterprise development. Only 22% of aspiring entrepreneurs have access to training in India. Finance is a big barrier, as only 5% of enterprises have formal access to credit. The need of the hour is to co-create solutions with the community and empower entrepreneurs with tools to become a master of their own destinies.
There is a need to talk to a diverse range of stakeholders to build an ecosystem that creates innovative trigger points in order to unleash entrepreneurship. In its current portfolio of projects, Development Alternatives is initiating a series of dialogues among entrepreneurs and other critical stakeholders in Uttar Pradesh. At one such event in Mirzapur, it was remarkable, how apart from the obvious lack of information flow an acute digital divide existed between different categories of entrepreneurs in the room. The situation presented a strong argument in favour of ignoring the traditional top down approach of handing out solutions and support services to the entrepreneurs. There exists a variety of enterprise opportunities and narratives in the rural enterprise landscape which need to be unearthed. This is the main pillar of thought for Development Alternatives in all its interaction and engagement with communities, all across north and central India. “It is imperative that transformation towards a truly sustainable society be driven through business models with distributed epicentres of value creation – technology enabled, networked enterprises that rely on recyclable materials, renewable sources of energy, and re-skilled human resources.” says Shrashtant Patara, Senior Vice President, Development Alternatives.
On its part, the government has been pumping resources into skill development and entrepreneurship. However, the initiatives are restricted in their outreach and effectiveness due to lack of innovation and inter-connectedness between stakeholders. For example, enterprise development projects among women are replete with the same options of candle making, food processing and tailoring. There is a need to talk to a diverse range of stakeholders to build an ecosystem that creates innovative trigger points in order to unleash entrepreneurship. “We need to take a comprehensive look at changes taking place with respect to the crucial drivers of finance, market access, capacity building, and technology. Market narratives have shifted and support services being offered in each area need to adapt to the emerging new economy of India where aspirations are growing significantly faster than the jobs being created”, says Dr. Ashok Khosla, Chairman, Development Alternatives.
Several development challenges such as scarcity of resources, lack of access to basic needs and environmental degradation, addressed through green and inclusive enterprise packages are opportunities that put money in peoples’ pockets and create decent jobs at scale. What one needs to offer are innovative mechanisms and processes which unearth a new range of enterprise packages? The question that needs to be asked next is that how can we scale these innovative models further up and how will they find support in straight-jacketed schemes? Answering these questions can lead us to prototyping innovative solutions which allow for better policy-building and implementation practices and impart more significance to the role of entrepreneurship in shaping the future of India’s youth.
A variety of enterprise opportunities and narratives in the rural enterprise landscape need to be unearthed. What is missing however, are innovative mechanisms and processes that unravel all that lies beneath and throw up a new range of enterprise packages and possibilities. The question that needs to be asked next is that if we can. The future of the nation lies in entrepreneurship and enabling people to sculpt their own future. By finding solutions to these issues, we can steer the nation towards growth and development and make way for a better and more enterprising India.
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The CSR Journal Team