July 2017 News

Entrepreneurship Is Faltering

26 July 2017
Rising Kashmir
Bilal Ahmad Dar

Srinagar: Entrepreneurship skills and knowledge are a prerequisite to the social and economic growth of any country, and people with higher skill standards adjust more effectively to changes influenced by overwhelming waves of globalization. Kashmir is currently grappling with the critical challenge of how best to skill their population, troubled economy, a dismal state of socio-political affairs, and it is a state simmering with colossal dissatisfaction a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living. Kashmir is a state where roughly 70 percent of the youth population is marginalized in every sphere of society - from the home front, education, career and to business. Although, the last few years has seen a handful of Kashmiri youth enter the realm of business, technology and entrepreneurship in the state, there is still a deep void to be filled as far as diversity for general economic progress is concerned. An entrepreneurial culture is an environment where someone is motivated to innovate, create and take risks. When considering the entrepreneurial culture of the state as a whole, there are plenty of individuals with plenty of ideas, but these parties are still held back by a lack of finance, advice, guidance, information and education on entrepreneurship in general. In state the role of traditional professions such as being a doctor, lawyer, engineer or accountant are still widely considered to be more secure and stable as and when compared to feeding the dreams of a budding entrepreneur with lots of potential. The perception among the masses of the role of an entrepreneur in society must be given more publicity. As technology, literacy, success stories, case studies and overall awareness about the benefits of being an entrepreneur are shared far and wide, only then we can consider the entrepreneurial culture of the state will begin to expand and develop in the future. State entrepreneurs have very innovative ideas and valuable business plans which could be easily converted into successful businesses, but unfortunately there is no good mechanism to encourage them. Starting a business in Kashmir is harder than in other states, as it is difficult to get financial assistance from state or private banks for new businesses due to high interest rates as well as the long and numerous procedures required to start up a new business. Further finding sureties and guarantees are also problems for many SMEs. There are many challenges awaiting such entrepreneurs such as enforcing contracts, registering property and taxes are some of the major reasons to start up business as well as grow business from small to medium scale. In addition, entrepreneurs in state are facing greater challenges within the modern business environment due to huge competition, rapid technological advances, globalization and lack of support from relevant authorities. On the other hand, most parents have a strong resistance to promote or encourage their children to be entrepreneurs due to the perceived social recognition and interpretation that entrepreneurs are less educated and acknowledged than professionals or government servants. Considering the state's entrepreneurship education, there are only a few steps being taken to promote and encourage an entrepreneurial mindset and innovative thinking. But prevailing state's education system does not promote or support entrepreneurship to such an extent instead it aims at producing best employees. Even it is expected to produce employable graduates within the higher education sector. Several public, non-profit and private entrepreneurship education or training programmes are today available in the state. They are primarily targeted at low and middle income rural people who can start traditional micro or small enterprises. These education or training programmes are sadly not directed towards opportunity driven and innovative entrepreneurs who are in desperate need of technology, finance and general assistance. This is mainly due to how entrepreneurship in state is generally associated with self-employment or owning a small business, which does not match the dynamic concept of entrepreneurship as a driver of innovation, creativity and value creation. In addition, universities are to get involved in offering knowledge and cultivate the necessary skills and techniques to connect students from various fields to create ventures. Introducing such concepts into our education system will serve to reduce barriers and issues related to commencing entrepreneurial ventures. Suggestions for promoting entrepreneurship culture further: Use of social media, mass media, special documentary programs and award ceremonies on entrepreneurship will further create an enabling environment in promoting entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial culture should be cultivated in the state as well as in the human mind which should subsequently stimulate individuals to think and behave as entrepreneurs. Formal entrepreneurship education with recognition for such dynamic personalities will be a great boon to strengthen entrepreneurial culture in the state. More entrepreneurial technology centre's, incubations and science parks should be set up in state to acquire the proper skills and knowledge required to create successful ventures. Introducing concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation into the wider education system is also an important requirement to fulfill the objective of promoting and increasing access to entrepreneurs. Widening entrepreneurship education will also help to boost entrepreneurial skills and attitudes, which will in turn help to develop the fundamental qualities of entrepreneurs that are driven by innovation. These few steps will create a more positive environment for budding entrepreneurs to make themselves into great entrepreneurs and help the rapid development of the state. Moreover, proper training is needed on how to create and exploit new and potential business opportunities and ventures. In addition, more focus must be placed on developing and promoting online entrepreneurial activities. The government must recognize the importance of online payment gateways such as secured online banking, low cost secured delivery systems and wider access of the internet to mention but a few. Such a focus will definitely create a more enabling environment to boost new global entrepreneurs in State. Considering the above, there is a connection between entrepreneurship, culture and ethnicity. Culture and ethnicity link together in encouraging or discouraging entrepreneurship, the government and all the other relevant parties need to support education, promotion, training, guidance and facilities available to all small and medium scale innovators and entrepreneurs. The administrative machinery needs to buckle up. Reaping this demographic dividend in a manner that truly empowers people and equips them with the skills necessary for equitable market access is a significant challenge that needs scrutiny, reform and effective political will. Without skills, the youth won't have the jobs, and without jobs, Kashmir risks turning its demographic dividend into a demographic disaster.