The Indian economy has shown remarkable rates of growth, and yet, unemployment is rising and a major share of the country’s population remains underemployed. This contradiction points towards the complexity and changing dynamics of the job market. Sustainable development requires narrowing the current employment gap and meeting the aspirations and job expectations of an increasing workforce. It is estimated that, in order to stabilise the current job situation, with unemployment reaching alarming rates, India will need to add 15 million new jobs annually for the next decade. Micro-enterprises will play an instrumental role in addressing this challenge as they create local jobs in large numbers. Already employing over 83% of India’s workforce, any impetus to this sector will have a significant consequential effect on economic resilience and social well-being.
Entrepreneurial attitudes and resourcefulness run deep in India – from the busiest streets of Mumbai to the remotest villages of poverty stricken regions in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. People’s strengths and their initiatives are however, stifled by a complex set of social and economic factors. To harness the power of micro-enterprise, India needs to enable a system that appropriately localises and decentralises production while also integrating economic efficiency, environmental soundness, and social equity into business decisions. This will require a systemic response that realigns the current ecosystem of economic development and job creation, resetting the growth trajectory to make it more inclusive, interconnected and innovative.
Development Alternatives (DA) and our partners consider access to fair finance, encouraging women entrepreneurship and adoption of new economy principles as the key enablers for sustainable enterprise development. The ability of small businesses to adopt new principles can bolster the growing aspirations of individuals and access to resources such as micro credit can instil a sense of dignity, confidence, and ownership in communities. Apart from aligning with the priority area of livelihood creation, enterprise development includes elements of social development and inclusive service delivery; while working across the themes of gender equality and youth employment.
We aim to drive transformation that is planned and managed collaboratively with diverse stakeholders. To do this, we create solutions in shared spaces through regional, national and international platforms. This enables us to synergise resources for joint action and accelerated growth. At the regional level, DA has facilitated the emergence of enterprise development coalitions to leverage resources from support providers such as financial institutions and training institutions. At the national level, we organise events such as ‘Jobs We Want’ that aim to discuss policy issues around livelihood creation with decision makers from among the government, business, academia and civil society. At the global level, we exchange knowledge through multilateral platforms such as Accelerator Labs set up by UNDP.
This issue provides insights on enterprise development solutions being tested for unlocking finance, building collaborations, women entrepreneurship and evaluating systemic interventions. In the coming months, we will watch with eagerness as these solutions go to scale.
The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.