In college days we read an entrepreneur is one, who takes risk in carrying out business activities for earning profit i.e. for livelihoods. On many occasions, a successful entrepreneur provides jobs to few/many youths. In modern day, innovation is sine qua non for developing the business. Here, a few points based on the North-east states of India are highlighted. 

Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Meaning 

Innovation and entrepreneurship are two closely related words used in the business world. Innovation is creativity to come up with a unique idea or solution. It helps a businessperson to sell its product with value addition. On the other hand, Entrepreneurship is using innovation to bring the ideas to life. Entrepreneurs take the opportunity to cash in on the innovation.  Entrepreneurship and Innovation can be based on Backward and Forward Linkages:   

As examples of innovation and entrepreneurship, a few I wish to mention here: 1) KFC: Harland David Sanders was an American businessman, best known for founding fast food chicken restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (also known as KFC). 2) Raymond Albert Kroc was an American businessman. He purchased the fast-food company McDonald’s in 1961 and he is credited with the global expansion of McDonald’s, turning it into the most successful fast-food corporation in the world. 3) The white rasgulla (a sweet product made of milk after splitting it by putting lemon juice) is believed to have been introduced in present-day West Bengal in 1868 by a Kolkata-based Nobin Chandra Das. Now this sweet is exported to other countries also. All these food products have been developed from primary stage to secondary stage and then business stage. 

Like these there are many examples and in school days we read about the invention of many electronic and other goods. 

In the case of Northeast India, the biggest drawback is lack of infrastructure; of course, slowly this issue is being resolved. Various reports and studies reveal financial literacy and inadequate access to funding remain the biggest challenge for men and women entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses. 

For the benefit of readers, it is pertinent to mention that the North-east comprises eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim. 

Regarding bank loan issues of Northeast states, one example I wish to highlight is from a lady entrepreneur, Rozelle Mero, Interior Designer and entrepreneur, of Nagaland. According to her, “Banks are terrible to the North-East. They take our money and circulate it across the country. People don’t get loans and have to put up collateral which they cannot do.” 

“Financial literacy is not given to people at a young age. Tax education is zero and the whole system is neglected.”  

Assamese gamocha (towel) and mekhela chadar (dress materials for ladies) are now in demand in the world market because of their beautiful designs. Simple design to new innovative designs like temples, nature, etc., attracts people.  Tribal dresses and bamboo and crafts of Tripura with new designs are an innovation to fetch market. Here I wish to mention about the fair organised by the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRD&PR), an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Rural Development, is a premier national centre of excellence in rural development and Panchayati Raj. 

NIRD&PR every year organises a fair where rural entrepreneurs across the country participate to sell their products. The products like Assamese Gamocha (towel) and mekhela chadar (ladies dress materials), cane bamboo products, tribal dresses, black rice of Manipur etc., are sold like hot cakes. 

In Peru, I have observed the colourful potatoes grown there had low market values while selling in the market as primary products. When it was sold as chips and similar products farmers got good prices. In Egypt while going from Aswan to Luxor city by cruise (3 nights’ journey) through the Nile River, a place known as Esna comes. In Esna around 20 boats each consisted of two persons – one was a sailor and another one showing bed sheets etc., for selling the products to the passengers of the ship who all were on top of the ship, that is, in the deck. I decided to purchase bed sheets etc., one boatman who was around 12 meters down as the deck of the ship to boat would be around 12 meters and after bargaining from ship, the seller in a plastic cover threw the few bed sheets and some handkerchiefs. He had meticulously thrown the materials from the low level of the boat to the top of my ship, which I could easily collect. After getting the materials, I was fully satisfied and the seller asked to pay 10 US dollars and for this again he threw one bed sheet in a plastic cover and requested me to put the dollar in the cover. I followed his instruction, which I did for the first time in life, a new and innovative marketing experience for me. This is forward linkage with innovative marketing. 

Thus, it is evident that innovation helps a businessperson to sell product fetching good income.  

(Dr Shankar Chatterjee is a retired Prof & head (CPME), NIRD&PR, Hyderabad.) 

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