Pedagogy for Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is not fully understood by people in the academic world. In higher education, we have management, commerce, science, arts, and technology streams but we don't have training in entrepreneurship. We want to create more jobs but not study the job creators. We don't want people to be entrepreneurial, the people who will create jobs for tomorrow. The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII) based in Ahmedabad is the only institution that talks about entrepreneurship and only entrepreneurship.
The institution was started in 1983 when the word entrepreneurship was not known to the majority of the people in India. The objective of this institution is to create entrepreneurs who are capable of creating jobs. They have to be capable enough to work on opportunities so that they can contribute to society.
In the past 37 years, we have trained thousands of entrepreneurs and our success rate in our post-graduate programs is 78%, meaning 78 out of 100 students become entrepreneurs. How to prepare a person to be entrepreneurial? You need to prepare them to face the worst situations. Entrepreneurship is not a rosy path but a very difficult ride. Every day and night they need to face challenges, encounter problems, and find the road to profitability. Sometimes, they may run into losses. Entrepreneurs are there for a purpose to solve the problems of society, solve the problems of business, and enjoy their accomplishments. How can we have a better entrepreneurial campus where a kid who joins for the course not only learns entrepreneurship and thinks about entrepreneurship as a career option?
We should appreciate students to try new things in terms of business opportunities. We can give assignments where they can develop a small venture, a business venture where they learn marketing, collaboration, production, and branding. This is hands-on learning. Secondly, they can be provided small seed funding, need not be huge and not more than Rs 10,000. When students feel supported by the institution or government their motivation levels will be very high.
Once they get into the enterprise and their mindset is in the enterprise, nobody can stop them. They must also be supported through business mentoring. They should know how to design a product, how to develop a business model? Sometimes the customer is not going to pay the money to sustain the enterprise, it may be given by somebody else. For eg. we buy a lot of goods from e-commerce companies, all those products are discounted. Sometimes these companies sell at a loss. But they are buying a lot of data from us which is behavioural data. It is sold at a very high price. The customer transactions are not profitable but the behavioural data that the customer has left while browsing the website is being sold at a very high price. The business model is different in this case. The business model is not customer-centric but data-centric. This is one way of teaching business models for students. They have to be made aware of the ecosystem, how many incubators are operating and offering government schemes available, what kind of government support is provided, and schemes relevant to the industry. The StandUp India, Startup India, Mudra schemes, and several others are there to be utilized.
Without such knowledge, the startups will be in a dilemma as to who will finance their idea or venture. We give a lot of assignments to be completed in a semester. Students have to pass unit tests, quarterly tests, half-yearly and annual tests.
An important feature of our curriculum is milestone-based learning. In unit one, the task is to create a name for the company, Unit 2 is team building, Unit 3 creation of logo, registration of the company as a legal entity, Unit 4- creating a website and finding a registered place. When these milestones are set, the student will become entrepreneurial. This is how EDII has been doing it for the past 37 years. Existing family businesses have to be revived as they die after the third or fourth generation. We need to handhold and mentor them as they are one of the biggest employment providers in the nation. (Introductory Address made at the 66th Rajagiri Round Table Conference on India Seeks Innovation Leaders, held on 19th December 2020)