Not only in India, but around the world, entrepreneurs are frequently thought of as national assets to be cultivated, motivated and remunerated to the greatest possible extent. Back in 2016, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the Start-up India initiative in New Delhi. He wanted to turn the youth of India from job-seekers to job-creators.
Entrepreneurs can actually change the way we live and work. This is because in addition to creating wealth, they also help create jobs and improve the living conditions for a prosperous society.
Entrepreneurs Create New Businesses
Path breaking offerings by entrepreneurs, in the form of new goods & services, result in new employment, which can produce a major effect in the economy. The stimulation of related businesses or sectors that support the new venture adds to further economic development. Businesses in association with industries, like call centre operations, network maintenance companies and hardware providers, flourishes.
Entrepreneurs Add to National Income
Entrepreneurial ventures generate new wealth. New and improved offerings, products or technologies from entrepreneurs enable new markets to be developed and new wealth is created.
Additionally, the cascading effect of increased employment and higher earnings contribute to better national income in the form of higher tax revenue and higher government spending. This revenue can be used by the government to invest in other struggling sectors and human capital.
Entrepreneurs Create Social Change
Through their unique offerings of new goods and services, entrepreneurs break away from tradition and indirectly support freedom by reducing dependence on obsolete systems and technologies. Overall, this results in an improved quality of life, greater morale and economic freedom.
Entrepreneurs Contribute Towards Community Development
Entrepreneurs regularly nurture entrepreneurial ventures by other likeminded individuals. They also invest in community projects and provide financial support to local charities. This enables further development beyond their ventures. Some famous entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, have used their money to finance good causes, from education to public health. The qualities that make one an entrepreneur are the same qualities that motivates entrepreneurs to pay it forward.
Now that we are aware of the positives and importance of entrepreneurship, let’s meet some young and successful entrepreneurs who have made a name for themselves and have helped the economy in more ways than one.
P C Mustafa – Coolie’s Son Sets up 100 Crore Company
Mustafa grew up in a small village called Chennalode near Kalpatta in Wayanad. His family consists of him, his mother, his father and three younger sisters. His father Ahmed stopped studying after Class 4 and worked as a coolie on a coffee plantation. His mother Fathima never even went to school.
Mustafa was never very fond of studies. He was good at mathematics and below average in all other subjects. Instead of doing homework or studying in his free time, he preferred helping his father. After failing Class 6, he lost interest in going to school.
His maths teacher helped him see the light and urged him to come back to school. Although it was challenging at first, with the help of his teacher, he passed with flying colours. Then he went to Farooq College in Kozhikode. English was a big handicap for Mustafa as he was weak in English. But all the lectures were in English so he had to find a way which came in the form of a friend who translated the information and helped Mustafa get good marks.
He then managed to get admission at the Regional Engineering College. After completing his engineering in 1995, he got placed at a start-up in Bengaluru for a salary of around Rs 6,000 per month. Two months later, he got a job at Motorola with a salary of Rs 15,000. The company sent him to Ireland, where he worked for a year and a half. From Motorola, he shifted to Citibank, Dubai, where his salary now crossed Rs 1 lakh. With his earnings in Dubai, he constructed a house for his parents in his village and his father could also get his three sisters married. Mustafa himself got married in 2000 and has three sons.
After seven years in the Middle East, he returned to Bengaluru in 2003 with a saving of Rs 15 lakh and decided to do an MBA. While doing his MBA he would regularly drop by his cousin Nasser’s kirana shop in Thiappasandra and spend time with his cousins and discuss business plans. Shamsuddin, one of his cousins, had seen dosa batter being sold in plastic bags tied with a rubber band in nearby stores and suggested they make and supply dosa batter. That was that Aha! moment. Mustafa decided to invest Rs 25,000 and start a company immediately.
And so five cousins — Nasser, Shamsuddin, Jaffer, Naushad and Mustafa started working on the idea. They found a small place of around 550 square feet and started with two grinders, a mixer and a sealing machine. They were discussing names when a cousin suggested ID for idli dosa. They named the venture ID Fresh as they planned to supply fresh dosa and idli batter.
ID Fresh became a Rs 100 crore company in October 2015. They grew from producing 10 packets a day in 2005, with just cousins managing the kitchen, to 50,000 packets a day with 1,100 employees in 10 years.
Dhiru Bhai Ambani – From Humble Beginning to Becoming a Tycoon
Dhirajlal Hirachand Ambani (better known as Dhirubhai), son of a school teacher in a remote village in rural Gujarat, chose to build his own spectacular dream by hiring as well as using some of the country’s most shrewd and influential minds. A student of Junagadh’s Bahadur Kanji High School, it is hard to believe that during the sixties he lived in a one-room chawl in Mumbai with his wife and children. He first proved his mettle and money-making abilities while first working as a petrol pump attendant and then as a clerk in an oil company.
He founded the Reliance Commercial Corporation with a meagre capital of Rs. 15000. He set up the business in partnership with Champaklal Damani from whom he split in 1965. Dhirubhai started his first textile mill at Naroda, near Ahmedabad and launched the brand ‘Vimal’. He later diversified into petrochemicals and sectors like Telecommunications, Information Technology, Energy, Power, Retail, Textiles, Capital Markets and Logistics.
He was ranked by Forbes as the world’s 138th-richest person, with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion in 2002.
Dhirubhai was praised for his key role in shaping India’s stock market culture by attracting hordes of retail investors to a market monopolized by state-run financial institutions.
In 2000, he was conferred the ‘Man of the Century’ award by Chemtech Foundation and Chemical Engineering World for his contribution to the growth and development of the chemical industry in India. In 1998, he was awarded the Dean’s Medal by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, for setting an outstanding example of leadership. Dhirubhai Ambani was also named the ‘Man of 20th Century’ by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
In 2016, he was honoured posthumously with the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian honour for his contributions in trade and industry.
Prem Ganapathy – From Handcart to Restaurant Chains
Hailing from a village in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, Prem Ganapathy at the age of 17 headed to Mumbai in the hope of a better future. An acquaintance had given him assurance of work but once he arrived in Mumbai, he didn’t hear from said acquaintance.
So next day, he got a job washing dishes at a local bakery at Mahim for a salary of Rs 150 a month. In the next two years, he picked up odd jobs at various restaurants and tried to save as much as possible.
By 1992, Prem had managed to save up enough to rent his own handcart. He started selling idlis and dosas on the street opposite Vashi railway station. It was difficult because the municipality vans would often come and pick up the handcarts. But Prem remained positive and determined.
His educated roommates helped him learn how to use a computer. So he would take a break of two hours every evening and spent time surfing at a cyber cafe. He read up about various businesses and learned from their success stories.
After witnessing the success of a McDonald’s restaurant which started beside his cart, Prem soon decided to venture out and start his own restaurant. In 1997, he leased a small space for Rs 5,000 a month nearby and named it Prem Sagar Dosa Plaza. His business grew as he started experimenting with dosas. In the first year itself, he introduced 26 different varieties of dosas, included Schezwan dosa, paneer chilly, and spring roll dosa. By 2002, his stall offered 105 different varieties of dosas.
In the same vicinity, Centre One mall opened. The management team and staffers often dined at his restaurant and they suggested that he should set up an outlet in the mall and that is when his small dosa store expanded.
Dosa Plaza is a chain of fast food restaurants specializing in South Indian cuisine dosa. It operates 45 outlets in India, New Zealand, Oman and UAE.
Ramesh Babu – Billionaire Barber
Born and raised in Bengaluru, Ramesh lost his father at an early age, in the year 1979, and found his family mired in conflict and poverty. His father left a saloon in Brigade Road. His uncle took care of it and paid Ramesh and his family Rs 5 each day. There were times when Ramesh, his mother, grandmother and siblings struggled for even basic essentials like food and clothing. His mother then took a job as a maid but they were still struggling to make ends meet. It all got a little better when Ramesh took up a job delivering newspapers at the age of 13. He continued his studies while supporting his family, till his pre-university years when he took over the saloon, named Inner Space, from his uncle.
He used family savings to renovate the saloon and roped in two workers to run the place. He was having issues with workers turning up on time so one time when a customer insisted Ramesh cut his hair, he cut it reluctantly and was surprised when the customer gave him double the standard price. Ramesh then took up hairstyling himself, and the business began to flourish. He signed up for hairstyling courses and even went to Singapore to do a course with Toni & Guy.
He then used his earning to buy his first car – a Maruti van. He took out a loan for the same but the EMIs were steep and so Ramesh began to rent out his car to raise the amount. He received his first business contract from Intel, through a family for whom his mother worked since he was a child. As he slowly but steadily gathered a sizeable customer base, Ramesh realised the potential of operating a high-end automobile rental service and began to build a fleet of cars.
In the mid 2000s, Ramesh received a proposal from Mercedes India to buy a model. He had been eyeing the models for a few years and saw an opportunity. He put together his small savings and raised the rest of the amount through a bank loan. He was scared at first because the EMI’s were so high but the business did so well that by the next year, he bought a second Mercedes model.
Presently Ramesh Tours & Travels boasts a fleet of over 400 cars next to models of BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar and the highly prized Rolls-Royce Ghost.
Source: The Better India
D Anila Jyothi Reddy – From Labourer to CEO
Reddy was the second of five siblings of a poor family. Having lost her mother early in life, Jyothi was put in an orphanage so that she could get some education. She passed Class X in first division but extreme poverty forced her to discontinue studies and work in the fields.
She was married at the age of 16 to her cousin from whom she has two daughters. After the marriage, her condition deteriorated. To feed her children, she was forced to work on paddy fields for less than Rs 5 a day. Later she became a volunteer with NYK (Nehru Yuva Kendra) and started teaching. However, the money that came from teaching was not enough to feed and educate her daughters. So, she took forward her dream of completing her education, battling opposition from family. Reddy completed her BA from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University in 1994 and studied for a postgraduate degree from the Kakatiya University in 1997.
After the visit of a relative from the US, Jyothi finally decided that to brighten her prospects in life, she has to move to the United States. However, life in the US was not easy from the beginning. She had to work as a baby-sitter, gas station worker, as a worker in a video game shop and others. Gradually, she saved some money from all these jobs and in 2011 started her company KEYSS in Phoenix, which she has been wonderfully running ever since. She is actively involved in activities promoting the welfare of children in orphanages. She works with NGOs like Prajadharana Welfare Society, MV Foundation and Child Rights Advocacy Forum (CRAF), and has formed a Pressure Group Force for Orphan Rights and Community Empowerment (FORCE).
Source: Youth Ki Awaaz
Here are some entrepreneurs from the Northeast with new start-ups who are also doing their part for the society
Hironmoy Gogoi, Gaon Ka Khana
Gaon Ka Khana, started by Hironmoy, is a food start-up based in Sivasagar that is not only providing locals with authentic Assamese cuisine but is also generating jobs for unemployed youth and women.
Start up Year
The idea was founded on 15th January 2016. It went operational after R&D on 10th June 2016.
On 6th Nov 2009, my elder brother died in an accident. On 18th June 2012, my mother passed away when I was just 18 years old. Although my father has a job at ONGC but due to a long struggle, we went under financial crisis and didn’t have enough money to eat at times. We took mom to reputed hospitals outside Assam many times to ensure the best treatment but medical science couldn’t find a proper disease except diabetes and the symptoms of her illness was terrifying. I had very few friends to assist in my journey. There has been no government support not even from the district administration. Scaling business with a team of rural youths who aren’t highly skilled is a big challenge. Training women about entrepreneurship is a challenge. Overall, building a new system here is a challenge.
One thing is very transparent that most of my businesses will always create value in rural lives economically. I want to set up a rural BPO which will generate many jobs to boost the rural economy.
Advice to the Youngsters
Either you live a comfortable life now and struggle later or struggle now and live a comfortable life later. The choice is yours. If you have devoted yourself completely to the main purpose of living your life then nothing can stop you from accomplishing your goal one day. Take life as a challenge and improve yourself every passing day.
Devika Gurung, Fidgety Fingers
Fidgety Fingers, by Devika Gurung, is a social entrepreneurship project. It aims to help women become financially and socially empowered. Women, mainly belonging to various necessitous backgrounds are trained in making handcraft (precisely, knit and crochet). Certain percent of the sale amount on every product goes to the women who made them. The aim is also to preserve and promote the vanishing art form of knit and crochet. Fidgety Fingers is the winner of Upstart Special Mention Award 2016-2017, at Guwahati, Assam.
Start up Year
It was started in September 2015
Training of the women proved to be a major issue as it takes time for them to get well trained. Also, unavailability of raw materials within the State became a hindrance. Another major challenge was to convince the women to get associated with the project. We had to make them understand that fiber craft can be an alternative but a sustainable source of income.
We plan to set up production units in all four districts of the State.
Advice to the Youngsters
No dream is too big. No job is too low. Success is overrated. You deserve to be more than just being successful.
Muheet Mehraj, Kashmir Box
Started by Muheet and Kashif Khan, Kashmirbox is an e-commerce startup where people can browse and buy all authentic Kashmir related products.
Start up Year
It was started in November 2011.
Challenges and struggles have been a part of our start-up from day one. From starting an e-commerce company in a place where there is not even 24 hour electricity supply or internet, to seeing the political instability in the State. We also witnessed 2014 floods and worked for the relief and rehabilitation for nearly 2 months. Building such kind of a platform where your backend supply chain is all unorganised, there is no concept of angel or vc investing, it is always difficult to work. However, I strongly believe that in the worst of places, comes the best of solutions. Simply because, they are a necessity for survival.
I intend to start a venture in the food space, although it will take time. Not hurrying it up. At Kashmir Box, we intend to replicate the model to other geographies like Northeast, Rajasthan, Bangladesh etc.
Advice to the Youngsters
My simple advice to youngsters would be this: Be curious, look at the problems around you, if you are curious enough, you will notice that there are big opportunities waiting in the form of these problems. Curiosity builds intelligence.
Deep Dhar, Kokkivo
Kokkivo is a fashion brand based out of Sikkim. It is much more than the clothes, they aim to define a lifestyle and culture that hopes to unite a generation through the spirit of positive change and establish Kokkivo Clothing as the ‘go-to’ name in urban fashion in India.
Start up Year
It started in the year 2013.
The biggest challenge I had faced was during my research and development before starting Kokkivo Clothing. It took me almost 1 year to understand how to make a better quality product. Another big challenge was to connect Kokkivo in e-commerce sites like Amazon/Flipkart /Paytm while staying in Gangtok.
We are also introducing Kokkivo Elements which will have better designs and quality with an average price range. We are also taking Kokkivo Customs to next level by connecting with almost all premium schools/colleges and organizations in Sikkim and neighboring states.
Advice to the Youngsters
STAY ORIGINAL! Do not emulate, you can fail at what you don’t want to do so you might as well take a chance in doing what you love.