Tanveer Ul Haq
In the month of July this newspaper published my article on the importance and need of entrepreneurship in Kashmir. Many of my friends shared it on Facebook and the comments were interesting and full of assumptions. The essence of these comments was that, “the author has failed to secure a government job and left with no other option but to choose business as career, that is why he is trying to glorify a ‘not so great’ career option”. Least did they know, I have never applied for a government job.
A month later, JKEDI had organized a seminar regarding the exports businesses of our state. Many Kashmiri exporters as well as new entrepreneurs were present, I too was there. The chief guest of the seminar was Khurshid Ahmad Ganai (IAS), then the financial commissioner Industries and Commerce department. Ganai in his talk professed the importance of entrepreneurship and its utter need for the survival of our economy. But at the end of his talk, having observed the faces of the participants, he expressed his feeling that no one among us was going to take him seriously because he himself has been a top bureaucrat throughout his career. Based on my interaction with the participants during the lunch break, I realized how right Ganai was in reading our faces.
In both the above cases because of the person, the idea presented was not taken as credible.
So, neither an aspiring entrepreneur nor a successful civil servant can talk about entrepreneurship as a career option. Who then? A successful entrepreneur may be. But sadly, at this point of time I don’t know of many valley based successful entrepreneurs. We have a plenty of successful traders and a number of struggling startup owners, but not many successful entrepreneurs. So, let’s not wait for successful entrepreneurs to come from Mars and give us “baashan”, so that we can start taking entrepreneurship as a glorious career option.
While most of the valley based first generation entrepreneurs and startup owners are busy on social media discussing who can be called an “entrepreneur” and who cannot be, I am trying to figure out what kind of entrepreneurship is practically possible here and what kind of startups does Kashmir need at this stage.
Any business that can create well paying jobs, export goods/services to other states of India or to other countries, creates a product/service that brings down the requirement of importing the same from outside is the need of the hour. We need more and more of such ventures, small and big.
Software, e-commerce, food processing, pharmaceuticals etc. are some of the potential industries we can look at.
We do not need to create a Microsoft, an Amazon or a Cipla overnight, we can and we should start small and take one step at a time, because there is nothing small about small businesses.
Small businesses are the engines of job creation in the developed world. Their role is underestimated in an economy like ours, the truth is there’s nothing small about the impact they have on our economy.
Small businesses contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community in which the business is established. Small businesses help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities to people who may not be employable by larger corporations. Small businesses tend to attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing ideas. Larger businesses also often benefit from small businesses, as many large corporations depend on small businesses for the completion of various business functions through outsourcing.
Small businesses do not always stay small. Large corporations, such as Facebook, Twitter, Infosys, Flipkart and Nike started off as small businesses that grew to become major players in the national and international marketplace. Microsoft and McDonald’s are prime examples of how a small business idea can change the world.
I do understand Kashmir lacks a favorable startup environment, which is job of the government to provide us with one. We should remember Infosys was born a decade before Indian authorities started talking about the concept of “Ease of doing business”.
“Wath paane sanz kar panun, ban paane rahbar panun…..Awtaar te pygambhar yiwaan aes pat kaaley.”
(The author is an entrepreneur.)