“Youth no longer seek jobs but can aim at creating jobs.” Recently, I was talking to the HR head of a well-known organization in the hospitality industry. He was speaking of how this is a fantastic time to be young in India. It’s a new India in the making. Today, India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world. Youth are no longer only the future of the country but very much so also the present! The past three years have witnessed the emergence of an ecosystem that is encouraging and nurturing willing minds and passionate spirits to take the entrepreneurial route. With technology, government support, media attention, a positive outlook that encourages start-ups, today’s youth are being encouraged to dream, to dream big, to dream the best that can be. These are indeed exciting times.
In his book Vision 2020, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam shared that pre-independent India had many dreamers, capable men and women who dreamed of a strong and modern India. They enriched the county with their actions and in their domain whether economics, education, literary arts, science, reflected various aspects of the freedom struggle. Kalam stressed that the strength of our nation, one of our core competencies is our human resource. India has more than 50% of its population below the age of 25. According to the 2014 UN report, India had the world’s largest youth population with 365 million 10-24 year olds. This is a wealth of resource. Not only from the perspective of providing services but also a large potential consumption market. Kalam further went on to make an important observation that Indians not only have great learning capability but most have an entrepreneurial and competitive spirit and that there is a need to create avenues to constructively channelize this spirit. I believe today we are again at a point where capable men and women are being called to re-imagine and dream of an India that is an innovation hub, that is the provider and creator of opportunities wherein in realizing one’s potential, one is directly contributing to nation building.
Kindling the entrepreneurial spirit
The future promises to be different from anything we have witnessed in the past. The digital world is creating new possibilities. Kishore Biyani, Group CEO of the Future Group and one of India’s leading entrepreneurs, in an interview said that India has a lot of entrepreneurial talent and it is a dearth of knowledge, infrastructure and capital that keeps such talent hidden. It is amazing how in less than a decade, the environment has rapidly changed so as to address the very points that Biyani spoke about. Today, India is one of the top five start-up communities in the world. The entrepreneurial spirit has begun to get the attention and nurturing it needs. Today, anyone with the drive, passion and a winning idea has the option to decide to embark on something new. India has emerged as the fastest growing base for start ups worldwide and globally we have moved up to third position in terms of a conducive ecosystem for start-ups to thrive. (Nasscom Report 2015: ‘Start-up India: Momentous Rise of the Indian Start-up Ecosystem’)
It is interesting to look at the start-up ecosystem that is developing in our country.
Foreign investors are showing tremendous interest in the India start-up story. Top investment firms such as Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital, Soft Bank, Warburg Pincus, Alibaba are among the top investors in India. The Nasscom report states that the Indian start-up community saw nearly five billion dollars of funding come in 2015. An India with a large number of people connected to the internet and a large consumer base is driving this interest and growth. Based on data published by YourStory.com, e-commerce companies lead the pack in terms of attracting investment, followed by consumer internet and mobile apps.
The Government is aiming at introducing policies and procedures to improve and strengthen the overall ecosystem. The recently launched Start-Up India Action Plan aims at strengthening the start-up movement and is being touted as a major breakthrough for entrepreneurship in India. From policy innovations to legal support to relaxation of financial and labour norms, tax exemptions to investments in promoting innovation and research focus, the start-up community is cheering this support and roadmap that the government has laid out.
The PM’s statement at the launch of the Action Plan is particularly important: “I hope that the start-up action plan will give strength and inspiration to the talented young generation of India to do something new for India and for humanity.” The youth are truly being seen as contributors and builders of a new country and humanity at large.
Communities and support
Colleges and corporates are increasingly setting up incubators and accelerators to nurture small start-ups by providing services that the start-ups would be too new, inexperienced and unconnected to acquire on their own. These could be strategic consulting, branding, PR, fundraising, design, etc. The number of incubators and accelerators has grown in the country over the past few years.
The youth themselves are taking an active role in building the ecosystem. Anto Philip and Shreyans Jain, while pursuing their undergraduate programme at Christ University, saw the need to build a community for young innovators, entrepreneurs and basically anyone who wants to do ‘great stuff’ and make an impact. Out of this need, the Under 25 club was born. It is today a platform for all those under the age of 25 to showcase their skills, ideas, speak with others from the community who have made a mark, started business and making a difference. The first Under 25 Summit was held in 2014 in Bangalore and saw 100 attendees. The 2015 Summit saw over 600 participants. In 2016, the Summit will be held in multiple locations across the country in a bid to fulfil the vision of reaching the maximum number of youngsters in India. The first Summit for 2016 in Bangalore saw over 1,700 participants and over 100 especially chosen speakers who have made a mark in their chosen field.