Bringing change through entrepreneurship

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MARIA FERNANDES | NT

Many of us harbour the dream of being our own boss and the most logical way of going about it is to become an entrepreneur. However the where, when and how to start, are big questions that daunt and deter those who want to pursue entrepreneurship. In addition, with the business world changing at an unprecedented pace, the challenges that aspiring entrepreneurs face include a complex corporate world, lack of experience, and theoretical knowledge that is not synchronised with the real world.

To understand the complexities as well as the ease of starting one’s own enterprise, The Navhind Times organised a talk with managing trustee, Goa Knowledge Foundation, Manish Gosalia and entrepreneurs, Supriya Ketkar and Suprajit Raikar. The hour-long show aired live on the Goa 365 channel on Sunday, March 28.

Ketkar who is the secretary of the Muktai Mahila Self Help Group, started her sanitary napkin manufacturing enterprise a couple of years ago through her group which was established in 2018. Sharing her story, the homemaker turned entrepreneur said: “I always wanted to start something of my own however I did not have much knowledge. It was my brother who motivated and helped me and through the Common Service Centre scheme (CSC), which is a central government scheme, we began production in 2019.” In fact Ketkar and her group are the first in Goa to manufacture eco-friendly, biodegradable sanitary napkins locally. Her group is also the first Village Level Enterprise (VLE) to run the ‘Stree Swabhiman’ project in the state.

For IT professional, Raikar, it was his desire to help the villagers, farmers, and tribals he met on his frequent treks in the forests and remote areas of the state, which put him on the road to entrepreneurship. “Not only did I want to contribute in some way to their welfare but I also wanted to help in preserving our environment. My keen interest in insects motivated me to look for an avenue in this field. ” Through training at various institutes around the country, he soon got himself certified and began Raika Honey which manufactures organic honey, bee’s wax products and cold-pressed coconut oil. It is not just business for Raikar as 10 per cent of Raika’s sales is donated to buy solar lamps and books for children in remote areas.

Both entrepreneurs emphasised the need and importance of training, without which they said, starting and running a business is not possible. “We were fortunate to have the backing of the government and through the CSC scheme, we got not just the training but also the raw products, machinery and even help in marketing,” said Ketkar. “Training is actually the bedrock for starting any enterprise,” added Gosalia, “In entrepreneurship there are many areas that have to be looked into and learned so that the business prospers. Besides just offering loans, the government and other bodies must have a strong training forum across the state. Partnering with organisations that have domain expertise, I believe, will definitely have a better impact.” He then explained the concepts of breaking even, cash flow, credit line, and much more.

With India being the fastest growing country in the world, Gosalia spoke about the many opportunities that are available for entrepreneurs and the basic requirements for starting a business. “The creative or design sector is one of the areas that has a great potential and Goa will become a creative hub in the near future,” he stated. “Design firms have already started setting up in the state and leading design firms not just around the country but also possibly across the world will make our state their base in the near future.”

However for this to happen and also to bring change in the present business and entrepreneurial sector, Gosalia believes that the infrastructure needs to be strengthened. Illustrating his point with various examples, he spoke at length about the importance of having quality internet connectivity and affordable transportation. “If these areas are taken care of, there will be a phenomenal change in the world of business and entrepreneurship in Goa. This will also give a boost to our tourism industry. In my opinion it will definitely be a win-win situation for all,” he stated.

At present India is in the midst of a start-up boom, the magnitude and scale of which has surpassed all previous records. Propelled by the various government schemes, the Indian entrepreneurs today are presented with excellent opportunities and a platform to aid their growth. However, most of these schemes are either unknown to the lay person or they do not have a clear picture of the same. Giving various suggestions how to make these schemes available to the common man, Goaslia recommended that the government make a central portal available that would give the entire list of schemes available for entrepreneurs. “Our state government then should also have a portal where these schemes are explained and relevant forms can be downloaded and even filled and sent digitally.”

Encouraging more individuals to take up entrepreneurship, he added: “There is more in Goa besides mining and hospitality and one just has to observe and be creative enough to tap into that area.”