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The Urban V/s Rural Entrepreneurship in India - Small Enterprise Magazine, January 2014 Issue

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India is a land of diversity. Yes the diversity in India is not just limited to culture, religion or traditions, but every segment breathes and displays this. If we take the case of entrepreneurship, we can see the bustling face of young Indian entrepreneurs reaching out to Silicon Valley and being watched for their endless potentials on one side, while on the other hand, the rural India comprises of some great innovators who struggles to reach out to the market, get funded and include technology.

 

 

It is true that the face of Indian entrepreneurship is fast changing and evolving out of multiple constraints. Rural entrepreneurs too are finding out new means and ways, through governmental, corporate and global support. In this issue we profile the two faces of entrepreneurship in India- the Urban Versus the Rural.

Years back, when the corporate giant Reliance ventured into retail, they announced that the Indian retail segment have a vast potential. But at that same time, all hard-nosed finance companies and banks were reluctant to fund for a retail venture highlighting that the segment had only wafer-thin margins and therefore big profits are just illusions. But if things were like that why a big brand got into it and dished out startling numbers? This means that the potential of any business or segments is not as limited as you think.

The gambling by many big brands is not altruistic. But at the same time, many hope to swell their profits by exploiting the huge gap between what the producer gets and what the consumer pays. Here is the difference between urban and rural entrepreneurship. Urban entrepreneurs are more exposed, and with the help of technology, they can reach out to anywhere and can open global outlets. But rural entrepreneurs need to depend on urban India and global exporters to promote their products. The need driven efforts of the rural entrepreneurs are not creatively or intimately addressed by big corporations, as their needs are more of granular, region centric ones. Indeed there are a lot of profitable engagements from the ‘bottom of the pyramid’, but the issues that are defeating their attempts are also equal.

Seeing the other side, it is heart-warming to herald the new breed of young entrepreneurs in India who are giving birth to several breakthroughs and businesses which we cannot imagine living without them tomorrow. The new generation of urban entrepreneurs is benefitted with technology skills and facilities. Hard selling needs may not worry them much because they build solid relationships through social media and are better connected. They can seek business mentors through business programmes, work from home, are comfortable with a virtual team, highly flexible, and maximize the benefits of technology.

Things’ being like this, one thing is for sure: automation and technology proliferation does not necessarily lead to increased intelligence, and what’s required is ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’. It is said that the next decade is for Indian entrepreneurs. If in the US startups are creating more than 70% of the new employment, India needs over 110 million new jobs to take advantage of the demographic dividend within next 10 years. The key point is the understanding that the industry is passing through a paradigm shift and every entrepreneur needs to adjust their strategies accordingly.

India is now playing the cards right and we will soon see Indian small businesses tackling home problems first, and go out further exporting the solutions that work best for them. An environment which is accepting failure needs to be promoted. In Silicon Valley, failed businesses too are funded by investors; similarly we need to understand this change of mood in India as well. The needs of consumers, societies and industries are changing, and the need of today is to address these changes and benefit from the new trends rather than falling as a prey to them.

The year 2013 has been a mixed bag for Indian enterprise. It’s been difficult for some segments due to unstable rupee, hiking costs, and lack luster in various segments like exports, real estates, retail etc. In this special New Year issue, we bring you success stories from both urban and rural India. At SE we believe that despite all the adversities and challenges, Indian entrepreneurship is here not just to stay, but to dominate the world stage.

 

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