A Paradigm Shift in Our Approach towards Entrepreneurship

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Globally, joblessness is one of the biggest challenges of an uncertain, post-Covid future. The onus that lay on entrepreneur-ship for job-creation, has only increased in impetus. However, while, income gaps between high tech start-ups and grassroots enterprises are widening, unemployment levels are rapidly rising. Even when these ventures are within the social entrepreneurship space, their benefits are found to be ‘limited’. Forecasts for job-creation therefore look bleak.

…As the “future of work” is changing, we need to find new ways to create “work” in the future.

In India, many of us have taken over several platforms to voice our opinions on the growing inequality and the need to reimagine the future. Harnessing the potential of local entrepreneurship is increasingly being recognised as a beacon of hope for the livelihood crises. While there seems to be growing consensus on what needs to change, there is, yet, very little agreement on how things will change. We debate, incessantly, on reviving sectors (experiencing major downturn); demanding environmentally sound solutions (while economic reforms promote extractive industry); and designing inclusive models for empowering people (in the shadow of short-term state measures such as suspended labor laws).

…While we reimagine the future, one wonders, where twain (our imagination and reality) shall meet in action?

Subsistence based models, combined with internalised constraints such as aversion to risk and restrained mobility at the grassroots; continue to inhibit entrepreneurship. Moreover, very little is known and done for alchemic interplay of factors and processes that form an enabling environment for micro businesses to overcome persistent barriers specific to their structure and mode of operation.

Perhaps, rethinking and leapfrogging is required. We need to move away from airdropping solutions through schemes that have limited success and provide temporary benefits in a local ecosystem. And move towards, shifting  ‘leverage points’ – points of power – in the existing ecosystem to counter the intractable1.

…The welfare-based approaches, handed down to ‘entrepreneurs’, simply go against the nature of true entrepreneurship.

We need to adopt a social innovation approach if deep, systemic change is to be effected.  In the last few years, our work at Development Alternatives in field of entrepreneurship, has taken this new path ‘unknown’.  Our growing body of work has reiterated the strong relevance of social innovation for entrepreneurship in our minds and our work on ground. Based on a four step methodology – listening to diverse perspectives and hidden voices has led to co-creation of innovative prototypes, and its knowledge, built through near real time feedback loops – it is now being accelerated through meso level collaborations.

… In the words of Ronald Burt, “the creative spark on which serendipity depends, in short, is to see bridges where others see holes.”

This edition, we bring to you vignettes and thought pieces that provide insights on shifting leverage points, alternative narratives, and ‘causal collisions’ in this road less traveled.  The thought pieces share our belief that inclusive and innovative entrepreneurship, built on principles of social innovation, is not only a befitting parallel to capitalist economics but also a much-needed pathway to a new world order where economic progress is based on value and equity. And we are dreaming, on the way, many hands will join us to carry the spirit of co creation forward.

… lets unmask the power of millions of potential entrepreneurs that can collectively enable shifts – at the local and global level.

Endnote

1                   Donella Meadows http://donellameadows.org/archives/ leverage-points-places-to-intervene-in-a-system/#:~:text= By%20Donella%20Meadows~,produce%20big%20changes%20in%20everything.

Kanika Verma
kverma@devalt.org

The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.

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