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Promoting Entrepreneurship in India

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It’s a known fact that India, today, is an emerging economy that is destined to achieve milestones, on various fronts, in the near future. However, for India, to acquire the status of a “developed” nation, it needs to create 100 million jobs, statistics point out!

Experts confirm, in an endeavor to achieve this mark, tapping the potential of the unemployed and exploring opportunities in the employment market, so that each and every person plays a crucial role in contributing towards the growth of the Indian economy is necessary. However, how can one create 100 million jobs? And the million-dollar question is which industry will absorb people and bridge the employment gap? While experts are busy contemplating the possibilities of the army, the railways, the government and the private sector to recruit, speculations about the difficulty in employing in such huge numbers continue to persist.

So, is there any solution to this problem? The answer is entrepreneurship! With several organisations understanding the importance of entrepreneurs and the ways in which they can create jobs for the unemployed, thus paving the way for an enriching economy, they are partnering with several expert bodies such as institutes, financial firms, etc. to foster all kinds of entrepreneurship- rural, ICT, social, etc.

Partners in growth

India has almost 300 million youth, but only 100 million jobs. Therefore, the country faces a 200 million employment gap. And Amy Christen, Vice President, Corporate Affairs & General Manager, Networking Academy Operations, Cisco Systems, Inc. believes that this gap can be bridged through self-employment and entrepreneurship-driven employment.

“We strongly believe in the entrepreneurial spirit of India’s youth. In order to support entrepreneurship, the right framework, funding and mentoring needs to be provided. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are always most vulnerable in times of crisis when funding becomes dearer and difficult to come by. While others may put their efforts on hold during this economic crisis, it should be India Inc’s organisations’ corporate social responsibility to continue to fulfill their vision and commitment to this effort.

She also adds that the financial crisis has created opportunities for start-ups. “There are good people available who are more willing to join start-ups; salaries are more reasonable and therefore within the reach of smaller companies; and young people, having learned that jobs in large companies are not necessarily “safe”, may be more inclined to start off on their own,” Christen adds. Hence structuring programmes to maximise the chances of success among young entrepreneurs and ensuring that entrepreneurs have strong mentoring and training to succeed in their business ventures, is vital.

Cisco, in a quest to achieve just that has collaborated with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College- Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park (TREC-STEP), a science and technology Entrepreneurs Park to promote information and communications technology (ICT) entrepreneurship and innovation in the country.

In this endeavour, SIDBI will finance small ICT businesses in India which will be run by current and/or former Cisco Networking Academy students, Cisco will subsidise the interest repayment and guarantee fees on the loans and TREC-STEP will provide customised training and mentoring to participants in the pilot. The new entrepreneurship pilot program will initially involve ten ICT businesses in Tamil Nadu. “With job opportunities only available to approximately one-third of India’s youth, entrepreneurship development is a critical part of the country’s future.

And such partnerships aim to nurture innovative thinking in small enterprises and support them with the financial resources to transform those ideas. Such programmes aim to foster an entrepreneurial environment that helps small businesses contribute to India’s overall economic development,” said Rakesh Rewari, Deputy Managing Director, SIDBI.

Partners in progress

If you look at the last two decades of economic growth, it has been, solely, due to the rise of various entrepreneurial start-ups in this country, primarily in the IT and ITeS sectors, experts say. Entrepreneurship, even in the future will drive economic growth, they confirm. “In the next two decades, I foresee an opportunity in the social entrepreneurship domain that will positively influence the global economy. With over 70 per cent of the population still working in the agricultural sector, 90 per cent of the jobs are still driven by this industry. Come to think of it, the country has been chugging along, only because of the emergence of small and medium start-ups in this sector,” adds R Sreenivasan, Co-Founder, Career Launcher that has initiated partnerships with central and state governments to encourage youth to start their own small entrepreneurial ventures.

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