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A stimulating event

The recently-concluded BizFest hosted by Business Network International was an opportunity for entrepreneurs from around Goa and Mumbai to meet and discuss ways of promoting entrepreneurship among today’s youthBY MICHAEL FISHER | B&C

The 3rd edition of Goa BizFest 2015, a Business Network International (BNI) initiative, in the habit of stimulating entrepreneurial juices, especially start-ups, had some emotional moments when a BNI award named after the late Prashant Shinde was conferred by his wife Supriya to Goa’s youngest CEO Milind Prabhu who is in his in his early 20s. When contacted, the teary-eyed Milind said that Prashant was his mentor.

Some of the greatest moments in entrepreneurial history were fueled by emotional intelligence. Another great moment that skipped a heartbeat of every attendee at the event was a polio stricken entrepreneur Agustinho Fernandes.

Augustinho Fernandes’ true story will shame many un-persevering entrepreneurs. The story of this Quepem-born handicapped Goan who is unable to walk, has been made into a movie and was screened at the event.

Augustinho recalls, at the age of nine his mother was not able to carry him to school because he was getting bulky and heavier and she was getting weak. But he didn’t give up and for that he received a wheel chair that took him to school and college, and now he is a music teacher managing his own institution and teaching music to people as young as 8 year olds to even older folks. “I am saving money to set up my own music studio,” he says. The movie screened was the concept of Amey Hegde, a motivational speaker.

“Innovation helps in identifying ideas that translates into business,” said GSPCB chairman Jose Noronha. By encouraging budding entrepreneurs to leverage their innovation, he recalled how Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, both school dropouts, persevered with their dreams. They were not losers. They just identified their ideas and translated it into a business with perseverance, he said further.

Noronha cited another example of a Bits Pilani student who created a portal called RedBus for enquiring and buying bus tickets all over India.  A South African and Chinese joint venture bought his portal for Rs 600 crore. The moral of such stories, he pointed out, is to follow your passion and romance with it till it loves you back. Another innovation is Zomato that has every single restaurant in the country listed, said Noronha.

Goa is taking measures and instituting programmes on similar lines to build an entrepreneur ecosystem, informed Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’souza.  He said innovation entrepreneurs can now look towards GEMS, a network of influential, mission-driven leaders who support one another professionally and personally. He cited the examples of Steve Jobs as an innovative entrepreneur who pursued his dreams. He also advised entrepreneurs `don’t give up.’

Overall, the BizFest discussed problems dealing with the increased complexity of entrepreneurship. These concerns emerged from the fact that unemployment to population ratio is un-proportionately high and the Goa government’s capacity to offer more jobs is limited to 55,000, said GCCI president and industrialist Nana Bandekar.

Bandekar said the ban on mining activity for the past 32 months has shut this avenue of employment, however, mining may restart by the last quarter of the year but the cap on mining will restrict the employment opportunities and other related activities. The growth in literacy and education is moving Goan youth away from agriculture and allied activities, he highlighted.

New investments in the industrial sector are not happening for various reasons, and as a result, there are not enough job opportunities. This is making our youth, entering the job market year after year, to seek jobs out of Goa. We must take it seriously to stimulate a sense of entrepreneurship in our youths which is the key to igniting economic growth and job creation, he further expounded.

The lack of a positive entrepreneurial culture in Goa has resulted in starting Goa Entrepreneur Mentoring Services (GEMS), a BNI initiative, informed BNI executive director Rajkumar Kamat, who is the backbone of BizFest.

He stated that GEMS is emphasising on equipping learners with the correct knowledge and skill to become successful entrepreneurs. The Goa youth today should consider self-employment and entrepreneurship as a career by choice, rather than waiting and struggling to get a job. Seasoned and helpful entrepreneurs should come forward and contribute as a mentor.

Rajkumar Kamat says GEMS aim is to provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to help each other and get access to the right expertise to create successful businesses for SMEs. Its immediate goal is to create a seasoned bank of 100 businessmen to guide 100 plus budding entrepreneurs.

Ulhas Kamat, the promoter of `I Create” who turned around well known Fortune 500 brands, declared the ‘10 Commandments for an Entrepreneur’:

First:  Take risk to reduce the risk.

Second: Entrepreneurships are not born. It is an attitude to start business.

Third: Change the family mindset that prefers to take up a salaried job than starting a business.

Fourth: Be energetic. Follow your passion and not your age which is only a number.

Fifth: College dropouts make better entrepreneurs, example Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Sixth: If you start your business because you want no boss, then many bosses in the name of customers and competition will emerge from everywhere.

Seventh:  Money should be the result of your business, and not business to make money.

Eighth: To start a business one does not need lots of money, but it also needs an idea and lots of perseverance to develop this idea into a passion and into a business.

Ninth: First, find a partner. Look for his skills and habits and then make him your friend.

Tenth: Your mantra is ‘two Cs’ – Take care of customers and cash flow.

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