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Future Group founder Kishore Biyani says the policy environment has to improve to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs. (Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)
Future Group founder Kishore Biyani says the policy environment has to improve to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs. (Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)

Why India needs not 10,000 but one million entrepreneurs for true change

  • Encourage risk-taking; accept that failing, not once, but many times, is fine
  • The problem of employment has two sides — demand and supply

Unemployment has been the Achilles heel of every government in India.

A young and growing population driven by aspirations wants to see dreams coming to fruition and increasingly looks up to the government to make it happen. But is this a problem for the government to solve single-handedly? Is skilling the population a sure-shot answer or is it a confluence of many things ?

The problem of employment has two sides — demand and supply. When the government commits to skill 30 million people, it doesn’t automatically mean that there are 30 million jobs. Skilling only takes care of the supply, but not the demand.

In the last few decades, information technology has been the single industry to create a whole new middle class. But today, that industry has peaked. So has the mobile revolution that created another chunk of jobs, as have the banking or transport sectors. All have maxed out and some of them are de-growing when it comes to jobs .

Then there is the fact that there are no jobs for life anymore and upskilling, upgrading, specialization and lifelong learning is the way in the 21st century.

Personally, I am not a great fan of the word “skilling" as India needs to get out of being known as a cost arbitrage country and we have a key role to play in the fourth industrial revolution. It is important we get this right as a country of creators and originators, not as servicers.

That’s why my clarion call that India needs one million entrepreneurs, not ten thousand. It needs entrepreneurs who will build sustainable and real businesses at scale, so that each, in turn, will create jobs for one hundred to one thousand more. This also needs a mindset shift, at the family level and in educational systems to prepare and encourage those who pick this path. Encourage risk taking, accepting that failing not once but many times is fine. The entrepreneurial community needs to get out of the perception that start-ups can only be about e-commerce or the internet of things. It needs to find sectors that can make impact at scale and create long-term fundamental businesses that are always more valuable than seeking a badge of honour with multiple rounds of funding.

This resonates with Kishore Biyani, founder of Future Group. “We have to make entrepreneurship a lot more attractive – socially and by way of the policy environment – to attract the next generation of entrepreneurs who can create millions of new jobs every year," he says.

More women need to join the entrepreneurial brigade casting aside doubts and hesitations. It’s also important to understand that entrepreneurship is not the claim of only the highly educated, or the metro dweller. We need more and more entrepreneurs from the non-metros, the tier II and III cities and villages where the real India lives. We have a multitude of examples among us where driven individuals from the hinterlands have gone on to create stellar organizations of immense value. Go build your company and then be a job creator and change lives all around you. Your family will be proud.

In the words of Shishir Modi, the founder of Niki.ai, “To create a richer ecosystem, entrepreneurship should be promoted more, celebrating successes and acknowledging failures."

Entrepreneurship alone can give wings to people’s dreams, elevate living standards and bring in development at every level, taking us from a developing to a developed country.

To anyone reading this article, I would say that if being an entrepreneur is for you, think big and go all out. But remember that the rules of success are the same for everyone. No one is disadvantaged—unless only you think so.

On a parting note, here’s a quote by Vishal Gondal, founder of GoQii: “India has 1 billion problems and hence there is an opportunity. Ten million entrepreneurs can come up with the right solutions to the one billion problems". Cheers to that!

Entrepreneur 4.0 is a column where successful Indian entrepreneurs discuss various aspects of startups.

Ronnie Screwvala is a first generation entrepreneur and chairman and co-founder of upGrad, an online educational platform.

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