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A book about first generation entrepreneurs

It is a debut for Renji George Amballoor as an author, with the release of his maiden book ‘Driven by passion: narratives of first generation entrepreneurs’. However, as a teacher, who goes out of his way to help his students, Amballoor took to writing to convince parents to send their children for internships.
NT BUZZ speaks to Renji about the concept of his book

SACHI NAIK | NT BUZZ

Renji George Amballoor is an Economics teacher who has tried to convince parents of his students to let them pursue internships for a long time now. With a doctorate in Demography (Population Economics), he has authored a book titled ‘Driven by Passion: Narratives of First Generation Entrepreneurs’ that was released on April 7, 2017 at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao.

As a faculty member of the Quepem College for last 27, he has been instrumental in setting up a degree course in commerce at the Multipurpose College in Borda, where he was transferred to in 2010. “Here, I came across many students who were mostly from places like Raia, Curtorim, Moti Dongor. When I interacted with them I found out that most of them are first generation learners. So, as a person in charge of setting up the course, I felt I should do something to help them out.”

Renji spoke to his friend the late entrepreneur Prashant Shinde, who was the then president of Verna Industrial Association to try and help. “When I told him about my students, he recommended me to come up with a proposal. So I gave the proposal to allow my students be placed as interns in the industry for a short period,” says Renji.

His students were easily convinced, but their parents were not! They felt that Verna is too far for their children to travel. “This had me worried. So to convince the parents, I started collecting local stories of successful personalities in different sectors. This took me around one year. When the parents heard these stories, they were convinced, and they agreed that their children should have some work experience through internship. In the year 2012, students were placed as interns in different companies at Verna,” says Renji.

Following this success, Renji felt the need to document such data. “Documenting is my passion, hence today; this passion has lead me to compile my research in the form of a book,” says Renji.

The book consists of interviews and journeys of entrepreneurs from different sectors. He reveals that the book is based on the concept of Rashmi Bansal’s ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’ who writes about Indian entrepreneurs. Speaking about the reason he decided to highlight Goan stories, he says: “Until then, there were no conventional colleges in Goa that made students undertake an internship for courses like BA, BSc and BCom. To convince the parents, if I had chosen to tell a story of Dhirubhai Ambani or Ratan Tata, they would have not taken it seriously. But I have interviewed locals entrepreneurs like Prashant and Supriya Shinde (Shinde Packaging Pvt Ltd), Reboni Saha (Mozaic Architecture), Shivanath Bakre (dairy farming), Agostinho Fernandes (musician), Prince Jacob (tiatrist).These stories are more convincing to Goans and hence decided to worite about them. I have compiled 24 interviews in this book.”

It took Renji one year to compile the interviews, searching for entrepreneurs and contacting them through his friends in the industry. “I searched these entrepreneurs through my friends, and all those whom I interviewed were very inviting. They gave me information about their success and life’s journey without any hesitation.”

This proved to be an entrepreneurship journey for Renji as well. “This was the first time I documented something and compiled it in the form of a book. During my journey I found that if you are going to do something innovative, people will help you. I am actually a teacher by profession but I still wrote a book. What more can I call innovation? My son who was studying engineering then, read my draft and got excited; he said he will publish it under the title ‘Rean Publication’. So this book is his entrepreneurship journey as well.”

Renji feels that parents need not insist on their children becoming doctors and engineers only. “There are a lot of other opportunities as well. Parents should see their child’s interests. They should also see whether their child is good in creative field or in intellectual field.”

He says that though there were people who said it was an impossible assignment to send my students for internships or even interviewing local businesses, he took it as a challenge. Renji now has plans to use the internship module to for his students of Quepem as well, though it seems a little difficult. “Unlike how Margao has Verna Industrial Estate, Quepem does not really have any active industrial estate nearby. Moreover, I was in charge of setting up BCom course in Margao, hence I had full freedom. In Quepem I only look after one department and the number of students is quite high.”

Renji says that documenting the lives of first generation entrepreneurs will also make other groups of people aware of their achievements. Moreover, this book is an attemot to contribute something to Goa considering that he has worked for the Government of Goa over the past three decades. “What the book really gave me was it allowed my students of Margao to experience internship. I realised that my efforts were not wasted. Students became more disciplined, responsible and systematic. While personally, I got closer to my family as wife Anu and children Renu and Roshan supported me in the things that many considered as a waste of time.”

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