iCreate - Creating entrepreneurs - Mr B R Venkatesh

CSR Times - We have read a lot about “I Create India” on the website and on different online forums too. We would appreciate if you can highlight and brief us on some of the challenges that you face while working on the field and its methodology for our readers to stay updated.

B R Venkatesh - We are purely into entrepreneurship. The mission is of creating job creators. As you know that unemployment is one the major factors that’s affecting today’s youth and the only way we can contribute something in nation building is by creating more job opportunities so that more and more people can be employed. Therefore we adopted entrepreneurship at grass root level. Thus our mission is to create as many entrepreneurs as we can in the country.. Challenges are many. The very first being non acceptance of Entrepreneurship being a skill. I think they all think in terms of employability skills thus they don’t recognize Entrepreneurship as skill. People expect this knowledge to be imparted in two hours . Sparing 5 full days for workshop is another big challenge not only for the partners but also the participants.

CSR Times - Do you have any parameters of selecting people or you simply encourage people to be an entrepreneur?

B R Venkatesh - There are no parameters as such. Whosoever wants to be part of our workshop is welcome to do so. We are not scanning them on any specific criteria but yes they must know a bit of arithmetics , which usually they are good at anyways, since they manage their daily chores, like buying groceries or vegetables and bargaining or asking for money back if they have over paid. Hence, that much arithmetic is needed because after all business is all about arithmetic.

But again we also have trained absolutely illiterate women in entrepreneurship, and they are doing a good job. Hence we have not restricted them from grabbing this great opportunities of life by setting up parameters. Whosoever wants to be a part of this movement they can join and take full advantage of it. Having said that, not everyone who joins and undergo training becomes entrepreneur. Our strike rate is around 20% plus and we are working hard to achieve higher numbers.

CSR Times - 20% is a good number Sir, very praiseworthy.

B R Venkatesh - Yes, sure but can be better.

CSR Times - Can you shed some light on one of the “I Create India” program called “Entrepreneurship Awareness”?Our readers will be very intrigued to know more on the same.

B R Venkatesh - Ok. There are two main programs. One of which is EAP that is called Entrepreneurship Awareness Program. A 30 minutes orientation that simply explains the participants what exactly we will be offering and what they would get and achieve. This is with a view to motivate them to register for the main program. We try make it as interactive as possible so that they share their aspirations, dreams, interest and their wishes.

Our other and the main program is called AEW (Aspiring Entrepreneurship Workshop) which can also be termed as a mini MBA. It is of 40 hours or say five full days. In this program we encourage them to think and come up with their own ideas and once that is done we then help them think, understand, share all the ground work that they would need to do and the homework they will have to do before going forward with it. They really need to analyze whether their business idea have the opportunity to make money (profit) in the long run or not. Once all these questions, doubts and concerns are answered they can then go ahead and draft out a plan to execute and implement their idea. So there are 5 words that we emphasized on, Idea, Homework, Opportunity’, Planning and Execution and from that derive the word “I HOPE”. We call that as I HOPE mantra to start one’s own business.

CSR Times - Do you charge the participants anything?

B R Venkatesh - No, we don’t. but there are costs involved in holding a 5 full day workshop (AEW). The engaging NGO needs to take care of these costs. Costs are on study material, tea/coffee at breaks, props during the workshop and honorarium for faculty/facilitator. The engaging NGO has the option of charging participants with a view to recover cost of holding the workshop.

CSR Times - Our next question is about the trainers. Master trainer is something that you had mentioned on your website. So what exactly is that?

B R Venkatesh – They are the one who train these participants in Entrepreneurship. They are all our trained resource persons. We train them in our methodology by conducting Training of Trainers.

CSR Times - How many trainers do you have in your team at the moment?

B R Venkatesh - All across India, we have around 200 people. In Mumbai we have just four unlike Goa, where we have highest number, about 90 master trainers.

CSR Times - That’s fascinating to know that, in Goa alone you have 90 master trainers?

B R Venkatesh - Yes, it is. Reason being, almost all the colleges in Goa have adopted our course and they have named it as CMS (Changing the Mind Set) for the students. This has become an integral part of their study curriculum – thanks to Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Our partners in Goa, this has helped scaling up..

CSR Times - The implementation of this program is mostly in the cities. So what are your plans to reach the rural areas? For example Goa itself has 192 panchayats and the youth here is very educated with good command of English language. Other than Goa even tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa or Jharkhand, what are the challenges that you face and the problems that you’ve encountered in your daily life while promoting this movement in those areas?

B R Venkatesh - The truth is we mainly concentrate on rural areas. Since we have beneficiaries in Mumbai hence we felt the need to cover Mumbai as well. Areas covered in Maharashtra are Amravati, Yavatmal, Akola, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Jalgaon and Pune. Other States like Rajasthan – almost every part of it, Karnataka – similarly every part. So it is not that we are urban centric – it is more for rural India but not restricted to. In fact I travelled to Chhattisgarh to a place called Kunkuri Jumaikela, and we conducted program under DB Tech in that area. The whole idea of this program is to stop migration to cities like Mumbai , Delhi, Chennai and other cities by creating livelihood options within their area. In Goa we did one program in Canacona , one in Sada Jail, Vasco, Jhansi Jail in Uttar Pradesh.

CSR Times - When creating entrepreneurs in rural areas what are the challenges that you face while working in the field, like coordinating with people?

B R Venkatesh - We have realized that today no one really sees entrepreneurship as a skill. Even if you look at the CSR part by Corporates, they are into number game, what they see is “We are spending something, we must have a number saying that We trained 25 people in an institute” and so on. Hence there is lack of interest and knowledge about importance of entrepreneurship skills also we don’t get the kind of support that VTI’s(Vocational Training Institute) get. Financial support is also lacking. The only big financial support we have at the moment is from “Sir Dorabji Tata Trust”, otherwise we are a big failure in generating funds., it eventually affects the entire program. Hence finances is the biggest challenge we face.

CSR Times - When promoting entrepreneurship and how to do business, don’t you think that something concrete in term of numbers should be presented to these Corporates?

B R Venkatesh - Of course, you are right and we are doing exactly that. We show them the figures related to how many are trained and how many have successfully become entrepreneurs but for some reason it is still not generating the level of interest it should generate. Once the CSR teams of corporates agree that the numbers we have generated are good numbers only then I am sure people will start giving us money and we can definitely take off to another level by creating more master trainers and awareness.

For More information please visit http://icreateincorporated.org/

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