Entrepreneurs-in-making but manufacturing

Here are some stories of the young men and women from just one reputable business school who have given up the cozy life and fat salary packets of multinational to start something of their own and perhaps setting the trends for new India.

Anuradha Agrawal, (2002) started community kitchens almost a year ago in the slums of Ahmedabad. She has now turned it into a profitable venture much to the surprise of many. About 30 community kitchens, comprising 30 families each, are currently working. She now wants to take this number to 100 in the coming months. http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&autono=308750 “Each family on an average spends Rs 70 on their food. While we save Rs 15 from this amount by way of bulk purchase of ration and vegetables, half of it is passed on to the families and the rest is spent on maintenance of the kitchens. Community kitchen also saves fuel for these families,” she says. In the process, Anuradha is transforming their taste-based food habits into a more healthy diet.

Vivek Pahwa (2006) launched a website for second marriages. The website boasts of 20,000 registered users wanting to go in for a second marriage. Changing life patterns in the country would further add to this list in future.

Gunjan Aggarwal (2002) saw an opportunity in vocational training. Her firm, Avsarr, a job opportunity platform, is now training young boys and girls in financial services to cater to the requirement of three banks. A typical 7-9-day training is enough to make them employable in areas of helping the banks expand their current and savings accounts. “We need not impart knowledge in behavioural psychology to these people. A short training is enough to develop necessary skills,” she says. And her idea is working.

Ashish (2002) with 15 years of service in the Armed Forces, now offers technology and a platform to address risk and intelligence. According to him, every business now needs to address the issues of real risk, not just business risk, after the terror attacks in the US and elsewhere brought the security issues into the realm of overall planning of a company.

With growth in GDP approaching to double digit and increasing telecom and Internet penetrations, the potentials for entrepreneurships in on and off-line services are huge. However, I only wish that all institutes of excellence started putting a special thrust to induce this younger generation of entrepreneurs to go for manufacturing too. The big retail outlets in organized sector can also encourage entrepreneurship in manufacturing, as Maruti did for auto components manufacturing. Manufacturing can only bring prosperity to the millions and let our IITs and IIMs find the way out to create an explosive growth of manufacturing sector.

However, another area of hope among many potential sectors is one in food. Here are some entrepreneurs from food processing industry that must be emulated:

United Pizza Restaurant Pvt Ltd, a Bangalore-based company operating a pizza restaurant chain called US Pizza, plans to start exporting ‘made in India’ pizzas through its under-construction factory in Bangalore, scheduled to go on stream by March 2008. Under the arrangement, United Pizza would only have to take care of the production of pizza base with tomato puree and Indian cheese, minus the toppings. “Various pizza companies, especially European, which would find it credible to outsource pizzas from India.”

Other area where the institutes of excellence must contribute is India’s agriculture sector that can contribute in enhancing the prosperity for a larger number of populations. Some entrepreneurs are already setting examples by making agriculture more commercial. Agro Dutch Industries is the leading exporter of mushrooms from India, a 100 per cent export oriented unit with a turnover of about Rs 250 crore. Himalya International Limited is another company that exports fresh mushrooms and various products made out of mushrooms in the US market. It is planning to double its capacities to meet the export demand. And these companies have succeeded in persuading its buyers to improve on price to take care of rising rupee.

There is ample proof that India’s high economic growth is being fuelled by the rising innovation intensity of its industries. But innovation in India must become a religion. Will it require a mandatory inclusion of technocrats in politics and administration? I am basing my view on an article in New Scientist that makes an interesting observation: “Does China make faster and more determined progress because most senior leaders of the Central Government were trained as engineers (Politburo of Engineers)?”

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