Every third person in India is a youth. By 2020, 64% of the country would be in the working age. There is a mad scramble for jobs today and this is only going to intensify. Some people view this as a demographic dividend but this could also be a ticker bomb we are sitting on.
With a focus on higher education, more and more people are enrolling and studying but as education levels go up, unemployment levels have also gone up, It is easier for high schooled to get a job than it is for a graduate,. This phenomenon worsens as we go to rural areas, where the problem is more pronounced
This is an outcome of the way society and government has treated entrepreneurs. Our fascination for government jobs, our approvals for job seekers and skepticism for entrepreneurs make them one off cases, outliers, paving their way against stiff societal opposition. First generation entrepreneurship does not have a nurturing ecosystem. If we want to harvest entrepreneurship we need to sow seeds of entrepreneurship in colleges.
We need to work towards a scalable, objective and an inclusive way to develop entrepreneurs from Indian educational institutions. Much of the entrepreneurship talk is restricted to top 5 metro cities and the top 10-20 colleges. Entrepreneurship development centers/incubators have been established in less than 10%(estimated, accurate data not available) engineering colleges. Students of regular colleges pursuing BA/BSc have been completely left out. In an overwhelming majority of 35500 colleges in the country, students have not been exposed to entrepreneurship at all.
Placements form the priority of colleges and entrepreneurship development efforts are half hearted. Few management and engineering colleges teach entrepreneurship but availability of high quality faculty becomes an issue. Venture capital is restricted to top metros and top schools. The approach however is not scalable and works in isolation. However, if we look at psychology underpinnings, entrepreneurship is a habit, which we can impart to young people. Habits are formed at young age and stay throughout life. Just as we learned cycling by actually trying out on an old cycle, just as we acquired to taste of food by actually eating not by reading recipes or seeing other people eat, we need to give a tool to students to acquire the taste of entrepreneurship.
One way to do this is by mimicking real life entrepreneurship in colleges. There must be a way to make students taste the fun of entrepreneurship. In order to implement such an approach we undertook multiple experiments. In a college, 15 voluntary teams of 2 people (complimentary skills) were given “trigger money (Rs 1000) for a short duration (a week with 2 weekends included) to go out and do something to generate profits. They were no pre requisites and rules. The students kept the profits/losses. At the end of the duration the principal was to be returned. Money exchanged hands through a teacher. These experiments done in Karnataka and Haryana threw surprising results.
Students thought of an idea quickly and went out to implement it. They competed, managed inter personal issues and earned profits. They used their skills, local products and local resources and came up with tangible selling propositions. They convinced strangers, shed their inhibitions and hesitations and enjoyed the process. Girls participated as keenly as boys did. The peer pressure of competition made them work hard, the incentive of keeping their profits and the recognition through awards motivated them, involvement of college authorities ensured they returned back the money and the short time frame allowed them to focus.
Such experiments are not completely knew, similar efforts have been done by premier business schools like the Indian School of Business and Stanford University and the Deshpande Foundation in India for their students with similar encouraging results. However, the idea now is to scale it up and make it available for every Indian student, studying any course in any college in the country.
We need to sprinkle the seeds of entrepreneurship all across the country and ensure we provide the fertilizers (nurturing mechanisms) and irrigation (conducive ecosystem) for it to grow into a full entrepreneurship venture.
Given it is objective, cost and time effective it is a fit case for scale up. Use of technology, and mobile media makes it possible to further reduce time and costs. Our in-depth work has ensured settling process for an efficient scale up. In terms of costs in less than 1/4th of a dollar, in terms of time- in a week’s time and in terms of quality- by students actually doing it, we taught students the alphabets of entrepreneurship. They are bound to write sentences and weave stories in the future.
The scale up requires a PPP model with government and private sector coming together to make a corpus fund. Given that it is a rolling fund, a one-time fund is regenerates and sustains operations. The nurturing ladder from colleges to states to national level requires efficient benchmarking, accreditation and rewarding systems. A database of potential entrepreneurs will make it easy for government and private players to identify new talent for job creation. Such an ecosystem cannot be created in isolation. It needs bodies like the new Ministry of entrepreneurship or Ministry of small and medium enterprises, industry bodies, skill development bodies to come together to take specific roles to ensure we create an ecosystem of entrepreneurship in colleges,
Long back, introduction of cadavers revolutionized the teaching in medical schools, the introduction of trigger money and its associated nurturing system can develop entrepreneurship spirit in youth in a cost effective manner. A scalable, objective entrepreneurship development policy based on trigger money provides an opportunity for students to taste entrepreneurship in a fun way and sow the seeds of entrepreneurship for a bumper harvest.