Entrepreneurship: Countrywide entrepreneurial boom

The practice of chasing plum jobs immediately after graduating from a B-school or university is changing even as academics encourage innovation and creative thinking within the nation’s lecture halls

Next time a bright idea lights up your head, keep it glowing as today the scope and variety of self-generated work is unlimited for professionally-qualified youngsters with ideas, an appetite for risk, and intuition. In a sharp departure from past practice, many young people are quitting high-paying jobs to establish entrepreneurial ventures. Big money in the long run and the freedom to chase dreams according to personal inclination are the prime motivaters behind the unprecedented private start-ups boom sweeping the country.

The traditional Indian practice of chasing plum jobs immediately after graduating from a B-school or tertiary institution is changing even as academics encourage innovation and creative thinking within the nation’s lecture halls. With well-funded project incubation facilities in academia prompting students to go it alone, attitudes to work are changing rapidly with an increasing number of IIM graduates declining attractive job offers to pursue entrepreneurial dreams. And the good news for budding entrepreneurs is that former IIT and IIM students who’ve made it big are increasingly transforming into angel investors, providing financial assistance, and mentorship to freshers with million-dollar ideas and concepts but not the resources or knowledge to start a business.

Until recently it was received wisdom that entrepreneurship cannot be taught but could be developed and nurtured. But with greater awareness today, a growing number of B-schools and other institutions of higher education — including several IITs — offer entrepreneurship study programmes and increasingly, project incubation facilities.

Among the institutions which offer entrepreneurship programmes are:

Indian Institute of Modern Management, Pune

Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resources Development, Pune

S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai

All India Management Association Centre for Management Education, New Delhi

Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi

National Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development, New Delhi

National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, New Delhi

Indian Institute of Planning and Management, New Delhi

ASEED and Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, New Delhi and Ahmedabad

Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Park, Roorkee

Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies, Harihar

Xavier Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship, Bangalore

Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management, New Delhi

Small Industries Service Institute, New Delhi

“Entrepreneurship is about committing oneself 110 percent to the business proposition that one is offering to the marketplace. In socialist India, where licence-permit-quota raj is still ubiquitous notwithstanding liberalisation and deregularisation of the economy in 1991, the odds are heavily stacked against entrepreneurs, particularly if she is a novice, unconnected, without personal brand value, or strapped for finance. Therefore an entrepreneur requires lots of self-belief, commitment, and a burning desire to succeed that will carry him/ her through the initial years,” says Chandir Gidwani, co-founder of the Mumbai-based Centrum Group of Finance Companies (net assets: Rs.500 crore) which boasts a pan-India network of 50 branches and a representative office in Dubai. Currently, Gidwani is vice-chairman of Centrum Capital Ltd and Centrum Direct Ltd.

Equipped with a Master of Commerce degree from Mumbai University, and a qualified chartered accountant (FCA), Gidwani began his career with Birla International as internal auditor in 1987, worked with American Express Bank (1988–89), and then with the ill-fated BCCI Bank (now known as SBICCI) as treasury manager (1989–91) before signing up with Apple Industries Ltd where he rose to the position of executive director.

Seasoned in the financial services industry for over a decade, in 1996, together with shipping tycoon Khushrooh Byramjee, Gidwani promoted Centrum Finance (now Centrum Capital Ltd) with each promoter contributing Rs.25 lakh as start-up capital. The corporate objective was to establish Centrum Finance as a one-stop shop for all financial services.

Since then Centrum Capital has established itself as a leading primary market operator and debt syndication intermediary and has built itself an enviable reputation as a merchant bank. Centrum Capital is listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange and the company’s equity share (Rs.10 paid up) is currently quoted at Rs.1550.

“Common sense and a professional and ethical approach to business is the secret of Centrum’s success, and consistent brand promotion has yielded good results. Not only did we establish our credentials and competence in a specific domain, but did it at a time when the capital market was in a state of flux. Today, with the economy booming and venture capital available, aspiring young entrepreneurs have never had it so good. In this new climate, they can look forward to rewarding careers as self-employed entrepreneurs,” says Gidwani.
Carpe diem!