Encouraging entrepreneurship at the grassroots level – key to unleashing the real potential of our economy

Gone are the days when students in India completing their management degrees only dreamt of working in large MNCs. They are now ready to ditch their handsome salaries to go the ‘entrepreneur way’. Risk-taking is now part of their DNA and they are more than open to give their entrepreneurial dreams a shot fearlessly. Instead of seeking a job, they are now becoming job creators themselves, thus creating many new opportunities in the ecosystem.

booming phase of startupsIndia is witnessing a boom in the startup space, like never before. Startups in India are currently valued at over $1 billion. They comprise 5.7% of the world’s unicorns and the numbers are going strong with each passing day. However, though the saga of entrepreneurship in India is going very strong, the real test is to take entrepreneurship to the grassroots level. This is something I strongly believe in.

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While cosmopolitan cities like Gurgaon, Delhi, Bangalore etc. are witnessing the entrepreneurship fervor in full swing, fostering the same spirit in smaller cities or even remote villages in India is what will prove to be a game changer. It will prove to be a big enabler,since it’ll help create new opportunities and improve livelihoods where it is most required. It will also help bring about a sort of equilibrium in the society by bridging the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’It’ll help take the startup wave from just a few pockets across the country to every nook and corner possible; so the benefits accrue to one and all, irrespective of demographics.

Since a majority of India’s population comprises of the rural class and those in the lower income bracket, fostering entrepreneurship at that level in the pyramid and mobilizing the ‘thinkers’ and ‘innovators’ in that segment is the key to revolutionizing the economy. But that’s also where the real challenge lies.

We are all aware that inclusive economic growth is the key to ensuring sustainable prosperity for all. Taking entrepreneurship to smaller places can be instrumental in accomplishing this. Not only do entrepreneurs create jobs, spur innovation and raise competition, but also act as role models for their peers, thus fostering further innovation and growth. It’s a domino effect.

There is no dearth of talent in the smaller places and taking the startup wave to the grassroots level is the key to unleash the full potential of our economy. Making the right platforms and guidance available to the youth or aspiring entrepreneurs in this segment is what can do the trick and get them to put their thoughts into action and formally build their ideas into not only sustainable but scalable ventures.

According to the World Bank’s World Development Report 2013, around 600 million new jobs will be required in the next 15 years to support a growing workforce. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to empower those from smaller and relatively obscure places to create jobs and not depend on metro cities for their livelihood. There is a need to boost innovation at the grassroots level, so more and more people are encouraged to live this dream.

The growing internet penetration and rising middle-class income level has already given rise to enthusiasm in the minds of youth from smaller places,and all that is requiredat this point is to spark that fire so the new wave of entrepreneurs begins to emerge.

The last couple of years have seen a lot of activity in the startup ecosystem to boost entrepreneurship in select pockets across the country. There are several startup platforms, investors, accelerators, mentors, industry leaders and veterans who have been instrumental inshaping the startup ecosystem in the country and take it where it stands today. For sure, their efforts are commendable. If only a similar ecosystem can be replicated across other places in the country, it’ll work wonders for the entire nation!

More people need to be encouraged and empowered to take risks and create value at every level. Also, there might be some pain points of the rural class that the so called urban class entrepreneurs may not be aware of or may not be the best ones to address because of their limited understanding of the problem. It is only entrepreneurs at the grassroots level who can identify these needs and address them best. Therefore, we need a startup culture, which is more inclusive and more welcoming. It should open the door for everyone to come and explore the spirit of entrepreneurship and the joy of creating jobs and contribute to the nation’s development.

Encouraging entrepreneurship at the grassroots levelThe Government of India’s ‘StartUp India,Stand Up India’campaign too seems to have been designed to address this issue, and considering the humongous support it has received from all quarters even prior to its launch, we can only hope that it becomes a roaring success.

But the onus should not rest on the government alone. The real momentum will be added to this campaign only when efforts are made by all stakeholders in the ecosystem to ignite sparks of entrepreneurship at the grassroots level, thus paving the way for India to emerge as the No. 1 startup hub in the world in times to come.

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