In every country, Entrepreneurs are the engines of growth. They create not just innovation but also new jobs. What India needs are entrepreneurs who are willing to think globally. Competition now is no longer limited be geographical boundaries. India needs entrepreneurs who are willing to take calculated risks to target niches in world markets.
One of the key requirements for small businesses is funding. In India, over the past year, a large amount of venture capital has been raised (in excess of USD 1 billion). A lot of this money is sitting idle waiting for interesting ideas and experienced management. The challenge is for this to be used to create a spiral of innovation and “hot” start-ups, whose successes can create a positive feedback loop for other would-be entrepreneurs sitting on the fence.
An interesting grassroots initiative would be to look at providing “micro-credit” to entrepreneurs, in the way Grameen Bank of Bangladesh has done. Most entrepreneurs find it very hard to get loans from banks. A collective, community-based system like what Grameen Bank has done can be just the spur for innovation, especially in providing solutions to problems in rural India.
India has many problems – these can be viewed as opportunities.
What is needed is the ability to craft solutions to these local problems and then target the 4 billion people in the world who are just like us.
Alternately, entrepreneurs can build companies jointly in the US and India, in the event that the primary markets are countries like US, Western Europe and Japan. The key imperative in both cases is to think of the world as a marketplace.
In the coming years as various Indian market segments are opened up, many companies in India are going to face challenges from companies outside India for the first time, and especially from China. One option for companies is to become traders – buy the goods from these other countries and sell them in India. They will do well to remember that middlemen do not last for long. The harder option is to fight back – by becoming more efficient, by building scale through creation of new markets, by using technology to make a difference. That is the spirit which India needs.
Indians need to dream and dream big. Of a tomorrow that is different and can be created by them. In doing so, there will be plenty of nay-sayers and failures, and a lot of pain. But out of these companies and teams will be built the new India – one which can stretch imaginations, one which can envision and create the future.