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Entrepreneurship, A Means to a Sustainable Livelihood In a landscape like India, it is the circumstances that have a significant role in the mushrooming of entrepreneurs rather than a mere desire to be one

By Gayathri Vasudevan

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Despite the widespread perception that entrepreneurial ventures are risky, unstable and lack social security benefits as opposed to a stable job, many in India opt for entrepreneurship. It is considered as a source of self-employment, innovation-oriented business application, self-financing, self-sustainability and incremental economic growth.

The spirit of entrepreneurship is primarily believed to be of an innovative economic organization for profit or growth under situations of risk and uncertainty. This enterprising spirit is much prevalent both in urban and rural India. While on the one hand, micro, small and medium-scale entrepreneurship is proven to help reduce the plaguing poverty issues in the country, enhancing the numbers of middle-class people. On the other hand, urban enterprises significantly contribute to fuel the machine of economic and social development across the world.

The sight of an everyday individual with a bit of money, a glob of resourcefulness and plenty of ambition feeling emboldened to become an entrepreneur is increasing exponentially. However, in a dynamic landscape like India, it is the circumstances that have a significant role in the mushrooming of entrepreneurs rather than a mere desire to be one.

There are innumerable instances where the well-known business leaders and big players such as Reliance, Tata, TVS, MRF, Infosys, Wipro, TCS and Maruti Suzuki, among others, have created opportunities and integrated with the micro and small scale enterprises who carved a sustainable and robust footing in their respective ventures.

The virtue of the MSMEs is such that they form the cogwheels of the larger enterprises in India. They integrate themselves into big enterprises in facilitating the value chain. The concepts of franchising and sub-dealerships have marked massive success in many large manufacturing and retail industries in India. Sub-dealerships in the tyre industry and micro-scale contractual tailors for big fashion brands are a few examples.

In such cases, it becomes pertinent to rethink the ideas of stability and social security for the micro and the small entrepreneurs to have a sustainable livelihood. It is considered that the concept of subsistence is the one that comprises of the capabilities, assets, resources and access as the activities required for a means of living. We call a livelihood, a sustainable one when it can cope with and heal from stresses and shocks, preserve or enhance its capabilities and assets. A sustainable livelihood is the one which provides net benefits to other livelihoods both at the local and global levels, in the short and long terms.

And so, to meet the demand of larger enterprises and to organically improve their net benefits, it is essential to mark the position of micro and small enterprises at the lower rung of the supply chain, as indispensable. The co-existence of both MSMEs with large enterprises nurture the capacity of the supply chain to improve the quantity, quality and price competition.

To make entrepreneurship at all scales indispensable and to enable MSMEs to play their rightful role and ensure the sustainability of enterprises, in the rapidly emerging economy of India, following sets of measures can be considered:

  • Assistance favoring growth-oriented and viable enterprises
  • Fostering more of the clustered units to reinforce backward and forward linkages
  • Relying exclusively or principally on assistance related to raw materials, marketing, machinery, technical advice
  • Giving timely and adequate assistance
  • Improving the skill base of small firms to upgrade the level of technical and general education of workers
  • An integrated package comprising appropriate policy support and inputs such as technology, management, finance, marketing aid, training and incentives to remedy the problems of MSMEs
  • Agglomeration and inter-industry linkages
  • Making Intellectual Property Rights an essential element for MSME's business operations

This apart, when we look at entrepreneurship in India, we can see India's entrepreneurs globally competing in almost all the fields, including substantial activities in the social sector with a passion for enabling more sustainable livelihoods.

Gayathri Vasudevan

Co-Founder & CEO of LabourNet Services India Pvt Ltd

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