In January 2018, we launched a long-term initiative to give a concerted push to entrepreneurship, including innovative ones, by sharing our knowledge and experience acquired over 17 years as a social enterprise.
To begin with, we invited eminent thought leaders and industry experts who shared their experiences with our home-grown young, aspiring entrepreneurs. This ‘International Seminar on Entrepreneurship as a Social Movement: Creating Cultural, Social and Economic Value’ was organized on 5 and 6 January in Kolkata, in partnership with the British Council and the Essex Business School, University of Essex, U.K.
The narratives at the conclave veered from personal journeys of Indian entrepreneurs to stories from countries as far as Argentina. The deliberations focused on how skills and innovation, supported by a pragmatic and sensitive socio-economic eco-system, can usher in holistic changes in the development paradigm.At the seminar, we also showcased real life success stories of creative, grassroots entrepreneurs of West Bengal. As they recalled their journeys, the audience was left spellbound and in an introspective mode. Here we share some of the highlights of the success stories we were privy to at the seminar. The stories begin with the one of Bandhan Bank. The founder of the bank, Mr Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
Creating an Eco-system of Sustainability: The Story of Bandhan Bank
Bank, an Indian banking and finance service company, was started in 2001 by
Chandra Shekhar Ghosh. He is the Founder, Managing Director and Chief Executive
Officer of Bandhan, the first micro-finance bank to be set up after Independence.
The vision of the bank is to be a “world class bank for convenient and affordable financial solutions to all, in an inclusive and sustainable manner”. In the process of achieving its vision, one of the major challenges identified by the bank was that “the poor hesitated in lending money to the poorer and poorest sections of people”. To overcome this challenge, the bank targeted the “hardcore poor”. The micro-finance programme of Bandhan has provided loans to more than 75 lakh women and the majority of them belong to rural areas. The bank has a great number of success stories to share and one of these is the story of a woman who was provided a loan of Rs 3,000 about 10 years ago. Her reason for borrowing the loan was to buy sarees to sell them from door to door in villages. Today, the woman has a loan of Rs 73,000 and she owns a shop where not only sarees but other garments also are sold. Moreover, she has five employees working for her. This story underscores the fact that mere subsidies and funding cannot make a person an entrepreneur. It is hard work, passion, motivation and confidence that together make an entrepreneur. Incidentally, Bandhan has supported 60,000 families across India and created an eco-system of sustainability.
Collective Entrepreneurship – An Example from Argentina
Collective Entrepreneurship is a new term that combines business risk and capital investment with the social values of collective action. It is believed that collective entrepreneurship has the ability to transform a city, a company and even arts, by having collective interest through identifying, developing and implementing opportunities. The journey of survival of the IMPA Company in Argentina is a brilliant example of collective entrepreneurship. The company accumulated huge losses because of corruption at the top management level. The employees of the company then came together, bought out the company, and revived it through their collective effort.
The Story of YLG, where Customer is at the Centre
YLG – You Look Great! That is the name of a salon company co-founded by Rahul Bhalchandra in Bangalore in 2009. At present, it has 57 salons across India.
Customers are at the centre of each salon, and they are the major stakeholders of the company. Customers were consulted before registering the name of the company also and the company’s name was decided by a panel of its customers. The company believes in creating values for stakeholders for sustenance. It aspires to innovate continuously. In its initial years, the company was rated as one of the five hottest start-ups because of its innovation skills. YLG is providing world class services to its customers and bringing the best products and services from across the world to the Indian woman at reasonable prices.
(For details, visit: http://www.ylgindia.com/)