Culture of entrepreneurship has to be driven in multiple ways, says S Gopalakrishnan

Entrepreneurs will have to take the lead in creating affordable products and services to benefit a larger segment of the population, said S Gopalakrishnan, President, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Addressing the CII Southern Region Emerging Entrepreneur Awards, 2013, he said that in an age of technological breakthroughs in information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology, entrepreneurs should exploit business opportunities. Growth of the economy depends on such creativity and entrepreneurship, he said.

At the awards function, in its third year in association with Business Line, he said that the culture of entrepreneurship has to be driven in multiple ways. For example, by showcasing successful icons, “people whom society respects”. The awards should be scaled up across the country to identify and recognise more such stories, he said.

Other aspects of creating a culture of entrepreneurship include mentoring, incubating and policy support by the government. Importantly, new business promoters should be taught to handle failure — 95 per cent of start-ups are bound to fail, Gopalakrishnan said.

Academic institutions and research labs, he said, have to play a bigger role in teaching entrepreneurship. Modern-day icons, whether Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, started businesses even before completing their academic careers.

Incubators are needed to support businesses, starting with low initial investments, and where funding is needed at various stages to scale up the business model.

The conventional academic environment, associated with MBA courses, do not talk about taking risks, which is very much a part of starting a business. On the other hand, they focus on teaching managers to minimise risks, he said.

Mentoring — by successful people, who help other start-ups — is a key challenge in India, where such a culture is yet to take hold.

The Government has to play many roles in ensuring the time to start up is low, doing business is easy and compliance and regulatory processes are supportive. Also, policies need to look at what it takes to close down a business.

At the third edition of the emerging entrepreneurship awards, eight entrepreneurs, from a total of 220 enterprises and over 350 entrepreneurs from the southern States, were given awards.

M Narendra, Chairman and Managing Director, Indian Overseas Bank, said the number of entrepreneurs launching new businesses continues to be low. Whether in services or manufacturing, early failures and defaults are high and new businesses need to be nurtured. Established companies need to work together to create such an environment.

Indian companies need to emulate large Korean and Japanese companies that encourage smaller players.

Banks need to adopt industrial clusters and evaluate them to identify deserving players to support.

B Santhanam, Chairman, CII-Southern Region, said the nominations are an indication of the robust spirit of enterprise prevailing in small cities and towns. They are spread across traditional industries and technology and knowledge-based sectors. This is something that needs to be highlighted but is being missed in the preoccupation with the ‘gloom and doom’ about the economic slowdown.

(This article was published on March 10, 2014)
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