We have all heard of the saying: "Necessity is the mother of invention." But have you ever heard: "Necessity mother of Indian entrepreneurship"? This headline in Business Standard dated March 5, 2002 invites attention. It said: "Necessity, not opportunities, drive Indians towards entrepreneurship…"

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the Indian entrepreneur ranks below average in terms of education system, physical infrastructure, fear of failure and positive attitude towards entrepreneurship. Very often we say that doing business is not in our genes. Or, that our forefathers had started a small business, went in for a loss and we should learn a lesson from that. But times have changed. Lack of jobs leads to poverty, plus crippling social problems and, in this age of downsizing (not right-sizing, unfortunately) and VRS Schemes generating rampant unemployment, entrepreneurship could be another option. You are your own master, you make all the decisions, shoulder your own responsibilities and enjoy your own profits (or, losses!).

Here are a few points for you to ponder:

  • Entrepreneurs are professionals. And one can’t be a professional if one can’t learn fast.

  • Entrepreneurs pick and choose information that is suitable to them and is better for their kind of work.

  • Entrepreneurs have a vision and think positively. They can say with certainty what will happen three years from today. However, they can see only into their own, not anyone else’s future.

  • Entrepreneurs always work as a team. They see the world as tools. They need people to finish their job, to give administrative support, and so on. They are interested in finding solutions. If they don’t find a tool, they don’t waste their time.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor shows that entrepreneurship activity among Indian men is more than twice that of women who aspired to set up their own business in 2001. This is on par with the global average — rather disturbing, in view of the scientifically proven fact that women are better entrepreneurs than men. Women have a more adaptable memory to remember things in context, which is not that easy for men. Women also have the capability of taking over multiple tasks and doing them efficiently at a given point of time. For example, cooking on the one hand, talking on the phone on the other, removing a computer print-out and answering a doorbell, all at one time.

Take the case of Linda Byrnes and Laura Hoffman. In February 1997, both were unemployed and looking for a way to combine their considerable talents by starting a catering business. Their mission was to create and bring imaginative and affordable food to corporations and busy individuals, sharing their vision of what it means to eat well. Linda and Laura approached the Entrepreneurship Centre for help. With its help, they completed 80 per cent of their business planning research, attended a seminar on Small Business Start-up, took assistance from the Centre’s volunteer lawyers in getting through the incorporation process and got names of key local contacts which helped them plan their start-up. In 1998 they pooled all their resources and started Two Cooks Catering, Inc. Since its inception, Two Cooks have catered over 275 events, revenues have climbed steadily (average monthly sales have tripled), three part-time employees and five casual workers have been hired and, what’s more, it has twice been featured in the Ottawa Sun!*

In India itself there are a lot of companies such as Avon, Oriflame, Amway… which give opportunities to individuals who wish to start a business on their own. There is also the International Centre for Entrepreneurship and Career Development in the United States, with its India chapter in Ahmedabad, which conducts a 10-month practical and result-oriented course to turn out well-rounded managers and entrepreneurs. It believes that most Business Management Courses are of longer durations, expensive and have academic orientation. This course is therefore offered to provide an integration of Business Management with Entrepreneurship, and could be very useful for all those who are looking for a challenging and self-satisfying career.**

So, Indians need to wake up to the new Entrepreneurship Education, which is the process of providing individuals with the concepts and skills to recognise opportunities that others have overlooked, and to have the insight, self-esteem and knowledge to act where others have hesitated. There are a lot more things to learn. Marshalling resources in the face of risk, initiating a business venture, business planning, capital development, marketing, cash flow analysis… To become successful entrepreneurs, what is important is to have a vision, to make the vision measurable, create a team of experts who already have the solutions to the challenges to be faced and thus build a resource team. Entrepreneurship is an investment that will surely have a return.

When God closes one door, he opens another. It is up to you to see that open door. Losing a job need not be the end of the world. It can open up new vistas, new avenues, provoke creativity… Entrepreneurs have to meet the challenges of CHANGE. They have to create CHANGE lest they get taken over or crushed by the challenge. Do you have it in you?


* Please see www.entrepreneurship.com
** Please see www.icecd.org

Merged ICICI Bank thrust to be on retail

The thrust of the ‘new’ ICICI Bank, which will be born following the merger with its parent ICICI on March 31, 2002, will be on the retail segment.

The Retail Banking Group (RBG) will serve to de-risk the balance sheet of the combined entity by diversifying it.

The bank is also looking at the retail business to provide ‘high-quality earning streams’ while building up formidable and defensible entry barriers against strong domestic and international competition.

It is also poised to become a distribution powerhouse by having a whole range of products — third-party products, mutual funds, pension products and bonds in its portfolio.

The potential customers that have been identified for RBG thrust include proprietors, charitable associations, provident funds with corpus below Rs. 1,000 crore, trusts, partnerships and corporates below Rs. 500 crores.

Business Standard


Godrej Sara intends to give Egypt, China a Good Knight

Godrej Sara Lee is planning to launch Good Knight, its mosquito repellent brand, in Egypt, Indonesia and China during 2002.

The company will also diversify into the room fragrance market by July.

The company, which already has a presence in South Africa and the Middle East, plans to set up manufacturing units in Egypt and China.

In Indonesia, where Sara Lee is present, the company will lend its brand on a royalty basis.

Godrej Sara Lee managing director A. Mahendran said, "We will be adopting different strategies owing to the prevailing market conditions and the presence of Sara Lee in those markets".

Business Standard

Bata in makeover mode

Bata India has taken an about turn in its strategy. The company has decided to become aggressive in terms of marketing, changing the image of the brand and providing new innovative footwear ranges at all the price points. To begin with, the company will introduce a new style of shoes every week which will be supported by a print advertising campaign.

The company will now work towards projecting Bata as a family brand and will concentrate on driving volumes by providing new products at all price points," Bata India’s new managing director Fernando Garcia said. He added that in future, the company’s focus would exceed customer expectations and would thus consolidate Bata’s leadership position.

This operation would be driven by a strategy of focussed marketing and segmentation and is designed to impact the customer in all income groups. Earlier, the company believed in growing its market share through word of mouth and by being present in all markets at major locations.

Business Standard