The 1991 economic liberalization in India revolutionized businesses completely. It led India to a growth trajectory that transformed India from a struggling economy to one of the best economies in the world. It has also spawned a host of entrepreneurs, big and small, who has created value and generated millions of jobs. An NSSO report says that 254 out of every 1000 Indians are self-employed, a respectable average globally.
An inspiring story of entrepreneurial success is that of Dhirubhai Ambani – Founder of Reliance Industries. His first foray into entrepreneurship was as a student, selling fried snacks to pilgrims, who were on their way to Mount Girnar in Gujarat. At 16, he left for Yemen working as a lowly gas pump attendant. He returned with Rs. 50,000 to start a textile trading company and built one of India’s biggest corporate houses. The Reliance Group contributes nearly 3% of India’s GDP.
Another inspiring story for Women Entrepreneurs is that of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, who started Biocon in her garage with just Rs. 10,000. The company now employs 6400+ people and has a turnover of Rs. 2,148 crores. Infosys, the world’s leading IT company was started with Rs. 10,000, reportedly obtained after pledging his wife - Sudha Murthy’s gold ornaments. Infosys has over 1,51,151 employees with Rs 9,616 crores in turnover for June 2012 Quarter. For all aspiring Entrepreneurs who cite lack of capital as the primary reason for not starting a Business should understand that apart from start-up capital, mentorship, teamwork and focus are the key elements to growing a Business.
Looking at the future, the average Indian is expected to be 29 years old in 2020 as compared to 48 in USA, and 37 in China. This provides a great opportunity for young Indians to take the Entrepreneurial route. Further, as developed economies saturate, emerging markets will be place where the world will do most of their business. In addition to that, Indian government offers many schemes, from tax holidays to loans, to support entrepreneurs. Various government departments also have their own programs that encourage startups. For technology startups, there is a host of options from different government agencies.
For aspiring Entrepreneurs looking for mentorship and networking opportunities in India, here are some useful organizations that you should know:
TiE – The Indus Entrepreneurs
TiE is the world’s largest non-profit organization for entrepreneurs. It started in 1992, by a group of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, leaders and professionals who hail from the Indus area. It has 61 chapters in 17 countries, with 17 chapters across India. Entrepreneurs linking up with TiE can tap into a network of 2,500+ well-knowledgeable entrepreneurs and business executives. Currently it has 11,000+ aspiring entrepreneurs as members. TiE is estimated to have fostered an economic wealth of more than $200 billion and has also influenced the economic liberalization in Pakistan and India.
Anyone can become a TiE member, with benefits that include access to TiE events, entrepreneurship conferences, active mentor network of successful entrepreneurs and one-on-one mentoring opportunities. One can also pitch ideas with serial entrepreneurs & investors, volunteer at TiE events and showcase business plans at various forums.
IIM-A started its Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) in 2001, aided by the government of Gujarat. It is comprised of the faculty, alumni and students, along with mentors and industry experts. CIIE is committed in helping aspiring entrepreneurs succeed commercially.’ It offers aspiring entrepreneurs with a host of facilities including Mentor Edge – the nationwide mentorship program; The Power of Ideas – A partnership between the Indian government and Times of India to find the best ideas and start-ups successes; iAccelerator – IT startup program; and INFUSE – Indian Fund for Sustainability. This incubation center has helped more than 30 startups succeed; among them are Biosense, Awaaz.De and Aspiration Energy.
Incubation Centers at IIMS
IIM-B first started its incubation center, the NS Raghavan Center for Entrepreneurship and Learning (NSRCEL) in 2002. Other noted IIM incubation centers are Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at IIM Kolkata, Abhiyan at IIM Lucknow and E-Cell at IIM Kozhikode. Rest of the IIMs are already in the process of setting up their own entrepreneurship development centers.
These centers will allow anyone to present a Business plan. If approved, the business is incubated at the concerned IIM. The advantage for entrepreneurs is that they get access to the vast and high profile alumni network, faculty and corporates.
The National Entrepreneurship Network began in 2003, co- founded by IIM Ahmedabad, Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore, IIT Bombay, SP Jain Institute of Management & Research, Mumbai and BITS, Pilani, in collaboration with the Wadhwani Foundation. It now has over 70,000 members in 30 cities, and partners 470+ top-level institutes in India. The founding goal was to incubate entrepreneurs for job creation to fuel India’s economic growth.
NEN helps entrepreneurs by education; mentor and expert support; access to funds; and educational material. It has collaborated with universities and academic institutions by following a partnership model that nurtures entrepreneurship in campus. NEN also runs the largest entrepreneurship-awareness campaign - Entrepreneurship Week India. Since 2003, 326 startups have been launched, and 3000 future entrepreneurs have been created.
Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII)
The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India runs the oldest Entrepreneurship Development Program in the country. This is an autonomous institute, started in 1983 by four prominent financial institutions, IDBI Bank, IFCI, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India (SBI), on land provided by the Gujarat government. The institute has further built 12 other entrepreneurial development centers in the state. It has also promoted entrepreneurship in a large variety of educational institutions and B-schools across India, by developing courses for entrepreneurs. EDI has also developed UGCs curriculum on entrepreneurship.
EDI runs a couple of 2 year courses for budding entrepreneurs, the only two of its kind in India: Post Graduate Diploma in Management-Business Entrepreneurship (PGDM - BE) and : Post Graduate Diploma in Management-Development Studies (PGDM – DS.) EDI uses business simulation and entrepreneur interaction to nurture entrepreneurs. It also offers Idea Storm – where you can submit ideas to the institute, which will be evaluated and if feasible supported.
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