Saturday, October 6, 2007

Nurturing India's Entrepreneurship

A recent article in a business newspaper brought to mind a question someone asked us once – “Does India have a culture of entrepreneurship?”

The immediate reaction may be to say “No” as we compare our environment with the American model of fostering enterprise building. But bureaucratic hurdles and salary earning mindset (read compulsion) apart, we think the question merits a second thought. And we are not just talking of the rise of the new age IT entrepreneur here – remarkable as that phenomenon may be, it owes a lot of its success to the undoubtedly entrepreneurial United States.

Think about the fact that India has the highest retail outlet density in the world ~ 12 million outlets as per 2005 estimates. Mom and Pop stores account for over 75% of these – the collective efforts of millions of small business owners and entrepreneurs. It is also known that a large number of first generation expatriate Indians made their livelihood by setting up shop.

In recent years, leading management institutes have set up incubation cells to support breakthrough ideas. Some of their initiatives have borne fruit, receiving funding from VCs and going on to become successful businesses. It is fair to say that the focus is in leading edge/ high tech areas.

Now, there’s another welcome development. Recognising the need to build skills among the SME community, academic institutions are setting up programs tailored to their requirements. The objective is to train and impart specific tools to help grow their businesses. The Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India are among the institutions to have launched such programs.

More power to them.

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