entrepreneurship: how college entrepreneurship cells can create student entrepreneurs in India

If ever there was a word of a generation award, the term “entrepreneurship” would surely be among the most likely to win the accolade. India has over 60,000 registered startups that demonstrate the conversion of ideas into operational businesses. However, having a perspective that translating an idea into a startup is the only example of entrepreneurial skills is very narrow. The typical understanding of the term is its use exclusively with the conversion of an idea or concept into a business organization. The concept is too broad to be simply correlated to business activities. We need to find a way to unleash the power of the term entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is having the quality of innovation, problem solving and extracting value from any circumstance or situation. Therefore, the general belief that only a businessman can be an entrepreneur is incomplete. Anyone with a problem-solving approach and a zeal to take the initiative in sticky situations is an entrepreneur. Thus, a tactical sportsman, a project manager, and even an individual taking the initiative to clean up their society or solve the problems of their fellow human beings are all examples of entrepreneurs.

Yes, some people are born with leadership qualities, but nurturing those abilities early on is also crucial. One way can be to create entrepreneurship cells in colleges that focus on this education. The only goal should not be only to increase the number of startups and unicorns in the country. The aim should be to instill skills in students’ personal and professional lives, instilling a permanent change in their behavior to focus on problem solving, original thinking, experimentation and calculated risk taking. Planting such entrepreneurial traits in students will require a special effort from policy makers to eventually create an ecosystem of student entrepreneurs in India.

So how do you instill entrepreneurship in young minds? Traditionally, colleges offer training programs, webinars, and workshops. In addition to addressing the individual issues that students face in risk management, creativity and innovation, helping them resolve these mental blocks is also crucial.

There are times when logic trumps objectivity, and an entrepreneur can read the terms well and develop a solution based on the current problem. For example, from an objective point of view, a group of boys playing ravine cricket should do everything possible to win. If a batsman is bowling, the bowling team must set the pitch and bowl to such lengths that it is difficult for the batsman to survive.

However, given the lack of resources in a match of ravine cricket, the batsman could be the owner of the bat, and taking him out would mean game over for good. Therefore, a leader would suggest easy bowling to extend the game long enough for everyone to play. Isn’t it about finding unique but logical solutions in different situations? Learning the importance of thinking on their feet with a unique perspective would enable them to meet the challenges they face in academic and professional life.

The entrepreneurial cells will teach them how to approach investors and will run workshops on business plans and marketing strategies. Instead, the broader aim should be to prepare students for the future and to ensure that they understand the real concept of entrepreneurship, risk taking, experimentation and developing an approach to problem solving in different aspects of their lives.

It is these entrepreneurs who focus on entrepreneurial skills that will create the India of tomorrow, not just a few of them who create start-ups and an even smaller fraction of that lot who create unicorns. India needs an entrepreneurial revolution, not just a startup revolution.

(The author is Co-Founder, Indian Angel Network and Founder, Quattro)

(The one-stop destination for MSMEs, ET RISE provides news, views and analysis on GST, exports, finance, policy and small business management.)

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