How This Veteran Is Supporting Entrepreneurship Through A Networking Platform
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Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey and Harsh Mariwala, Marico Ltd’s Chairman and ASCENT’s Founder, agrees no less with us.
So, when Mariwala thought of giving it back to the society and help entrepreneurs at the same time, he started ASCENT, a platform that helps growing entrepreneurs to exchange ideas, experiences, and insights, in a confidential and liberal setting.
In a tête-à-tête with Entrepreneur India, Harsh Mariwala discusses the importance of networking and how his project ASCENT is helping entrepreneurs in their roller-coaster journey.
For Mariwala, different perspectives are very important for innovative problem-solving as opposed to having a single-minded tunnel vision. He believes that implementing the same strategy to address diverse challenges impedes the growth of your business.
“This is where networking and the exchange of thoughts and ideas from multiple minds, helps to understand a certain problem in a different light. Not only does it allow you to discuss different ideas and ways to resolve current issues but also helps in the creation of ingenious marketing strategies for your business. It creates new professionally positive and synergetic relationships that help you scale and expand your businesses” he says.
Creating Trust Groups for Growth
Sharing the agenda behind starting ASCENT, Mariwala says, “I wanted to create an ecosystem, where like-minded entrepreneurs can come together to discuss their own professional journeys, challenges, professional highs and lows and can manage to seek solutions. All of this, not by resorting to consultants or advisors, but by mutual discussions and support of peers. This led me to start ASCENT.”
In other words, it is a peer-to-peer learning platform that is helping ambitious entrepreneurs scale-up their enterprises.
The platform forms ‘trust groups’ of 10-12 members each, where ASCENT acts as a catalyst by facilitating entrepreneurship. Its various initiatives like multivariate programs such as mentorship-focused activities or webinars and networking-focused programs.
“The groups are self-governing bodies, where ASCENT does not interfere in the workings of the groups, but only intervenes to ensure smooth operation, ongoing traction and progress of the groups,” he adds.
Apart from organizing webinars and workshop, ASCENT also organizes enabler’ events, where its members meet venture capitalists, banks and mentors to navigate through pertinent business issues, sessions focused on finance, HR, sales and so on.
When asked if ASCENT provides any financial support to entrepreneurs, the FMCG-industry veteran promptly said no. “We do not provide funds, any funding services or invest in any members. The objective is not to be the provider or financial benefactor but to be a hand-holder or mentor as to how to solve and address such kinds of challenges," he said.
At present, ASCENT has more than 320 members of which about 10 per cent are women, 37 per cent entrepreneurs are from family-run establishments. The member ratio of manufacturing and services is 49:51 and have members from 65 industries.
Meawhile, Mariwala envisions the platform to touch minimum 1,000 members and is keen to expand it across Tier I cities in India in the next few years.