Our young brigade of “entrepreneurs”’ need to act as change agents to create social value
By Sajad Bazaz
Last week one of my acquaintances made an interesting inference about the concept of entrepreneurship being promoted in Kashmir. Every second person I meet in Srinagar claims to be an entrepreneur, he posted on his social networking page.
His observation makes a sense as the entrepreneurship has been given a different meaning here. Ironically, simple selling of bread, butter, potatoes, tomatoes etc is called entrepreneurship in Kashmir.
I have been vehemently and consistently advocating promotion of entrepreneurship as an answer to unemployment in the J&K state. There were times when critics countered my idea of promotion of entrepreneurship on the premise that general rules for successful entrepreneurship were not matching to the ground situation here. However, I argued that we had habituated ourselves to the conflict and everyone of us knew the art of negotiating the prevailing situation. Besides, there were scores of entrepreneurial success stories which had emerged here during the times of peak militancy period and were strongly lending credence to my idea of promoting entrepreneurship among the valley youth.
For the past few years, we observed a shift in the attitude of our youth, especially educated youth, as they were looking beyond government jobs. I could feel a spark in our youth force not only to get self employed but also to generate employment for others. I knew scores of youth who were holding degrees from foreign universities and established socially responsible enterprises here. But after some time most of them vanished in thin air!
Some two years back an MBA from an Australian university established a jute-based product manufacturing unit in south Kashmir to provide employment opportunities to the village youth, and at the same time promote environment-friendly products. He generated a bit of heat in his venture in early days, but lost steam just after the first year of his venture. He found his earnings neither matching even his personal needs nor his social objectives of bringing change on the environment front. However, over a period of time we have observed a breed of youth establishing business units here and there in the state and projecting their activities as entrepreneurship. For example running a franchise of an established brand or selling fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) or consumer packaged goods (CPG) is called entrepreneurship here. Basically, doing a business just for profits alone and entrepreneurship are two different concepts.
Entrepreneurship is not only limited to starting business to earn profits but it also encompasses combination of notions of innovation, changes, opportunities and resources along with social responsibilities. Precisely, an entrepreneur means a business leader and most importantly an innovator of new ideas and business processes. Good business model embedded with social responsibility, ability to swallow financial risk, creativity, time management, be ready for anything attitude, ability to be flexible, think out of box, resilience after failure, stress management and the ability to think strategically are some of the qualities which makes an entrepreneur. have helped them to thrive amid conflict situation. Acting like a commissioning and forwarding agent is not entrepreneurship.
General rules apart, socially responsible entrepreneurship carries a huge value at our place. Besides making profits entrepreneurship should equally pursue solutions to our plenty of social problems. It should be considered as a new entrepreneurial culture among our youth and it has to be seen in a different and new dimension. It should ensure better living and improving communities through their social activities.
In other words, entrepreneurship should change the way we live and work. If successful, the innovations may improve our standard of living. In addition to creating wealth from the entrepreneurial ventures, there should be also creation of jobs and the conditions for a prosperous society. This way our entrepreneurs in true sense can turn out to be our national assets which then need to be cultivated, motivated and remunerated to the greatest possible extent.
Notably, the major contribution of entrepreneurship among other things will lead to capital formation, creation of employment opportunities and promotion of balanced regional development. At the same time it will reduce concentration of economic power and remove the element of growth of monopolies.
In short, our young brigade of ‘entrepreneurs’ need to stick to the basic concept of entrepreneurship to act as change agents to create social value.
(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)