Get All Access for $5/mo

Understanding Cultural Entrepreneurship Cultural entrepreneurship has become a means to use culture and arts for bringing a societal change

By Shivang Saxena

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


Entrepreneurship is a dome consisting of discoveries and pursuing new business propositions by forming companies. The true spirit of entrepreneurship is not restricted to profits or personal wealth-creation. It is about celebrating the endless possibilities of our ideas. In this article we'll be looking closely at entrepreneurship's notion towards social reforms and responsibility, and how over time it has brought a positive change in our lives.

What is entrepreneurship?

Richard Cantillon, an Irish-French economist and author was the first person to use the term "Entrepreneur'. He said, "An entrepreneur is anyone who is a risk-bearer. Their income consists not of ground rent or daily wages but of profit.'

History of entrepreneurship

The story of entrepreneurship began with our civilizations. Original entrepreneurs were traders and merchants. Archaeologists date their existence back to 17,000 BCE! The locals bartered the black volcanic glasses to make hunting arrowheads for other goods. While these early entrepreneurs exchanged one set of goods for another, over time this game has changed drastically. Progression of agricultural practices, concept of money, development of markets, this tale is as old as time. The genesis of entrepreneurship that we see today is a gift from globalization and advancement in science.

Different types of entrepreneurship include social entrepreneurship, cultural entrepreneurship, big business and small business.

The history of mankind has seen entrepreneurs leaving phenomenal impacts on our lives and changing the course of history. Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates--the list is remarkably long. But as the generations progressed, the paragon of entrepreneurship evolved to cater to the needs of the masses.

The above mentioned names are the harbingers of modern-day entrepreneurship. Their core motivation was harnessing an idea for self-employment, capital generation and startup establishment. Slowly the paradigm is shifting and the field of cultural entrepreneurship is taking the world by storm. The latter is simply using entrepreneurship as a tool for social reforms instead of just making profit. It is focused to make safe space for businesses inclined towards art, creativity and cultural heritage.

What is cultural entrepreneurship?

Our forefathers laid the foundation of our culture and our ethnicities. Culture consists of beliefs and values transmitted "fairly unchanged' from generation to generation. Its purpose is to bring a sense of belongingness amongst individuals, guide them through different courses of life. But over time as concepts of cities and metropolitans came to existence, our cultural roots have weakened. The fast paced life with endless sources of instant gratification has left our generation unhitched and directionless. In these times, the field of cultural entrepreneurship is coming as a beacon of hope in our lives. It is an incipient discipline. It examines how cultural products for instance art, theatre, and literature and cultural activities like music, sports, film events and food have an impact on the growth of local, national, and global economies.

Who are cultural entrepreneurs?

The words "cultural" and "entrepreneur" have to some extent a similar targeted significance. They are both drivers of dynamic growth. While the former is concerned with spirituality and belongingness to one's community, the latter is profound and tangible. Together they bring an ambiguous, tautological effect in society. Cultural entrepreneurs are the creators of epistemic focal points that people can coordinate their beliefs on. They change people's motivation for contributing to economic development. They even challenge and constantly change people's understanding of what is possible. Artists are the pioneers of cultural entrepreneurship. Anyone who understands the importance of culture in society and builds a platform to celebrate it is a "cultural entrepreneur'.

Why do we need more cultural entrepreneurship ventures?

India is a land of plethora of cultural relics, art and languages yet we are not able harness its potential to our advantage. Lack of resources and the absence of a nurturing environment has demotivated and forced artisans across the country to quit their creativity and settle for other professions.

The increasing cultural entrepreneurship practice has promoted dynamic development in cultural preservation in India and across the world. It has paved the way for building a marketplace for intangible cultural relics such as myths, languages, symbols, values, norms, attitudes and beliefs. The development in art and its widespread use by entrepreneurs have cradled the careers of many individuals and collective artisans. In the technologically advanced times, this sustainable business approach has proven to be a profitable and sustainable cultural preservation approach.

Cultural entrepreneurship has become a means to use culture and arts for bringing a societal change. It can be targeted on the development of the laborers and artisans who have been abused by middlemen since time immemorial. The quadruple bottom line of cultural entrepreneurship is artistic innovation, institutional development, social change and economic prosperity. Because culture is something permeating all activities across all economic sectors, cultural entrepreneurship holds vast potential to bring a significant societal change. Another reason why this business model is a tasting success so far is the involvement of young blood. In the last 5-10 years, a startup boom trend is observed where a lot of people in their 20s have taken up entrepreneurship as their career.


"Entrepreneur" is a French word. It is a combination of prendre- take and entre- between. While traders and farmers were the ancient entrepreneurs, cultural entrepreneurship has come of age as a promising field. It has truly rejuvenated dying cultures across the world. It has become ostensible to us that we need innovations that focus on changing markets and systems and those that change hearts and minds. Cultural entrepreneurs have emerged as business thinkers, passionately working to shape the world for enhanced creative and saleable business ventures. They have solved problems by disrupting age-old belief systems. They have truly uplifted and empowered the poorest of the poor and are pioneers in preserving various cultures globally. Entrepreneurs are touching lives and making this world a better place.

Shivang Saxena

Freelance writer

Shivang Saxena is a New Delhi-based writer-entrepreneur. Reading, writing & entrepreneur-ing always. He's the founder of The Words Vibe. A platform for newbie writers to hone their skills. He's also working with his first book called, "Too Many Thoughts, Too Many People" which is due to get published by end of 2021. 

Growth Strategies

Learn business by doing business across the Globe: The next revolution in Entrepreneurship

As the startup ecosystem sees an influx of new entrepreneurs, the question arises: Is our current business education sufficiently equipping students for the entrepreneurial challenges they will face?

News and Trends

Will Nirmala Sitharaman Go Soft on Crypto in Her 2nd Term as FM?

This harsh treatment coupled with India's decision to not yet ban the currency has left many in a fix. So, what does the coming times mean for crypto players in India?

Health & Wellness

Get a Year of Unlimited Yoga Class Downloads for Only $23 Through June 17

Regular exercise has been proven to increase energy and focus, both of which are valuable to entrepreneurs and well-known benefits of yoga.


6 Cost-Effective Ways to Acquire Brand Ambassadors

Boost your brand's visibility and credibility with budget-friendly strategies for acquiring brand ambassadors.

Growing a Business

He Immigrated to the U.S. and Got a Job at McDonald's — Then His Aversion to Being 'Too Comfortable' Led to a Fast-Growing Company That's Hard to Miss

Voyo Popovic launched his moving and storage company in 2018 — and he's been innovating in the industry ever since.

Making a Change

Mastering Resilience: Learn to Detach Mistakes from Your Self-Worth with Darrell Vesterfelt

A moment of crisis led to his partners asking him to step away from one of the businesses that he co-founded