“Sangati”- Students Conclave
“Sangati”, the First Student’s Rural Entrepreneurship Conclave was organized by students of KSRM on 22 November, 2014 on the occasion of 3rd National Rural Management Symposium being held at KIIT University, Bhubaneswar with a theme “Rural Entrepreneurship and Enterprise for Inclusive Growth”.
Sangati aims at the promotion and influx of germinal and innovative ideas into the domain of rural entrepreneurship development. It is an exploratorium for budding rural entrepreneurs. It’s a rostrum for showcasing the innovative conceptualizations and to gain approbation.
Special Lecture: “Rural Entrepreneurship and Enterprise for Inclusive Growth”
Moderated by – Prof. L. K. Vaswani, Director, KSRM
Mr. Sanjay Panigrahi spoke on the theme of the Special Lecture with the help of few case studies on Rural Entrepreneurship. He made his presentation quite lucid with some practical and pragmatic aspects of rural entrepreneurship from his learning at SAHAJ. Defining a rural entrepreneur as someone who serves the needs of rural citizens directly or indirectly and could turn a difficult situation around. He categorized rural entrepreneurship into one where rural entrepreneur could work as a facilitator to government programs and the other as creating business through private efforts. While stating that he learned his best lessons in rural marketing in his current assignment with Sahaj, and he listed some of the challenges faced by rural entrepreneurs which include convincing the family to opt for business; social pressures in terms of lifestyle compared to having a job; availability of credit; technology lag and obsolescence coupled with infrastructure inadequacy and finally frequent changes in regulation with regard to delivery of government services. Correspondingly opportunities available to rural entrepreneurs include major focus of government to develop rural areas; un-served but highly scattered rural markets; proximity to rural population and therefore ability to influence them constantly improving rural infrastructure; improving rural economy through social (Rs. 3953 billion) through social and livelihood and remittances (Rs. 2.00 billion) funding and creation of rural innovation fund in the recent budget. In his opinion some of the trades in successful rural entrepreneurs include need assessment of the locality; create awareness about the services; skills to do business and take risk; ability to sustain business opportunity and finally create impact on society.
He felt that the rural markets are not hit by recession; rural enterprises have the potential to tab the rural markets. He said however that the focus should shift to sustainable development rather than mere development, with entrepreneur gaining business viability and reduce dependence on funds from the government. While elaborating the importance of economic viability he added that even the AMUL model was initiated only in those districts that had potential to provide economically viable business. He had a word of encouragement for the students and urged them to realize the potential of rural entrepreneurship and undertake this career as a challenge for revival of rural economy in India.
Ice Breaking Session: “Igniting Thoughts”
The Students Conclave started with a presentation on “Macro and Micro Level perspective of Entrepreneurship” by KSRM students. Ms Priya Nair in her focus on macro picture highlighted that India is slated to become a $5 trillion economy somewhere between 2023 and 2028 but this growth has not created enough jobs nor translated into a better quality of life? She went on to suggest that the issue of economic development in developing countries turns out to be the problem of fostering entrepreneurship particularly in the rural regions. Therefore the question facing us today is – how to create value for rural and disadvantaged communities through entrepreneurship. She went on to suggest that Rural Entrepreneurs need help in a situation where policies geared to support rural businesses doing development don’t exist. We need to createa conducive eco-system forcountry’s rural entrepreneurial community. This macro picture followed three small micro case studies presentations on grass root entrepreneurs with whom KSRM students interacted during their Action Research Segment (ARS).
1st Case: “Agrimall” – An initiative by Deepak Foundation presented by Priti Tiwari and Hrishikesh Uday Shinde. It has stepped in to check the extensive use of pesticides in farming through organic farming techniques. The initiative facilitates provision of relevant information to farmers and in turn get continuous feedback from them. This has helped in reduction in pesticides used and at the same time have led to increase in farm productivity.
2nd Case: “Mobile repairing shop” – A boy from the village Jhalap, in Bolangir district of Odisha has become a good entrepreneur now. Though he had completed only his intermediate, he was exposed to the mobile repairing training by Udyama, a NGO for 3 months. He has been successful in turning out his training into an income based livelihood. His monthly income now is Rs. 5,000/- to 6,000/- per month. This case study was prepared by Supreeti and Dinesh while working with Agragamee.
3rd Case: “Rabbit rearing farm” by Ms. Ritu, Ms. Riti Pallavi Verma and Mr. Advait Chorey, while working with Development Alternatives in Jhansi. The rabbit farm was started in 2013, in Majara Village of Tikamgarh district in Madhya Pradesh by Mr. Sanjay Singh Rajput covering an area of 40X20 sq. feet. He has been successful in this field and is able to earn well.
These three case studies were able to provide insights into potential of micro – level entrepreneurial activities in rural areas. If supported through appropriate interventions, may impact macro-economy through its multiplier impact on many more potential but reluctant rural entrepreneurs.
1) Competitive Section: Big Bang Idea
The Big Bang Idea was a team competition and the participating teams were invited to develop a concept and / or business plan / model. This event received 13 entries from different B Schools across India from which 5 teams were selected for the final presentation at the conclave. The event was judged by an eminent jury consisting of Prof. Rajesh K Aithal, IIM, Lucknow; Prof. Debashis Pradhan, XLRI, Jamshedpur and Prof. Damodar Jena, KSRM, KIIT Universiy. The shortlisted teams and their big ideas were as under:
IRMA, Anand – Soya Milk Production (An Agri-preneurial Venture) by Bharat Parmar, Vaibhav Lohakare and Abhinav Soni
NISER, Bhubaneswar – “Onlinehata”- A unique approach to commercialise rural products and bring them to the customers’ doorstep by Preeta Pratakshya, Rajat Kumar Panda and Brajabandhu Pradhan
KSRM – “Gram Swaraj” – A Dream of Mahatma Gandhi byNachiketa Mahanty and Parag Jain
School of Management and Labour Studies, TISS, Mumbai – Hopewala Organics by Asutosh Bhakuni, Manik Dhingra and Yogesh Kumar
KSRM – “Krishi Jagat”by Yashwant Raj Sethia, Paulami Adgiri and Gaurab Raj
After a rigorous and elaborate process of evaluation, KSRM team was declared as winner and received a cash award of Rs. 20,000/-, with runners up team NISER Bhubaneswar received Rs. 10,000/- for the 2nd spot and team TISS Mumbai received Rs. 5,000/- for the third spot. The winning idea “Krishi Jagat” spoke of women SHG federation providing all farming services from inputs to market under one umbrella and integrating the model with the government program Mahila Kishan Sashaktikaran Pariyojna (MKSP), a sub component of National Livelihood Rural Mission.
The runners up big idea “Online Hata” by NISER presented a unique approach to commercialize rural products and bring them to customers’ doorsteps.
The “Hopewala Organics” from TISS was about delivery of certified organic foods from organic farmer groups to customers with assurance on safety and transparency in value chain.
The attractive feature was creation of youth expression fund for benefit of rural youth.
2) Competitive Section: Last Mile Delivery Challenge
Mr. Parmesh Shah, Lead Rural Development Specialist, World Bank, Washington while delivering the 7th KSRM Foundation Day Lecture on ‘Livelihoods in the Next Decade’ at KIIT School of Rural Management (KSRM), KIIT University on November 20, 2013 stated that last Mile Service delivery is 19 billion $ opportunity in India. While pointing out that neither government organizations nor private sector has given enough attention to this rural crucial need, he went on to suggest that it requires entrepreneurship in rural areas to translate this opportunity for benefit of rural population. We saw a great advantage in converting this idea into a competitive event. Each participating team was asked to narrate a service delivery problem in rural area and its context. In turn each team was asked to come out with an innovative service delivery plan through Government and/or any other non-State actor.
The event received 10 entries from different B Schools who also attended the conclave. However the last minute entries were not entertained. In this event all the teams made their presentations before the jury consisting of Prof. Niraj Kumar, XIMB; Prof. Rajesh K Aithal, IIM, Lucknow; Prof. H. S. Ganesha, KSRM; Mr. Rajesh Singh, Indo Empower (Ex-HUL); Prof. Ajith P, KSRM and Prof. Damodar Jena, KSRM.
The prize winners in the Last Mile Delivery Challenge competition as declared by the jury were as under:
XIMB Bhubaneswar– “Sustainable Social Benefit Incubator” by Nishant Raj, Preeti Priyadarshini and Aditya Marathe
IBCS SOA University– “Development of Education in Rural”by Priyaja Nayak, Debasish Patel and Sangram Keshari Rout
The TISS Mumbai, winners of this received cash award of Rs. 20,000/-, with runners up XIMB, Bhubaneswar receiving Rs. 10,000/- , and Rs. 5,000/- was awarded to IBCS, SOA University for the third spot.
The winning entry titled “Gigyasa Education”, revolved around the concept of bring back joy and creativity among village school children from class I to VIII. The concept promotes open-ended, diversed and hands on activities with community participation and destigmatisation of rural life. The proposed system will be donor dependent with monthly fee from parents and will be possibly owned by Gram Panchayat in the long run.
Event – IV
Special Lecture: “Environment Protection Awareness”
Dr Anil P Joshi in his engaging and insightful session emphasized on creating environment protection awareness amongst younger generation. In his heart touching speech he was critical of the fact how development has corroded mother nature be it land, soil, water, air, villages, forests or the mountains. He emphasized on the need of bringing ecology as an integral part of sustainable development. Illustrating his point through the example of how people living near the TEHRI Dam were facing water scarcity in midst of plenty. And therefore he suggested that the consumer must be the contributor to nature, directly or indirectly, for any project to be truly sustainable. He rightly emphasized that major part of our GDP is dependent on natural resources. Therefore, ecology should be a priority and development should include GEP (Gross Environmental Product) as important indicator of growth. He concluded by saying that everyone of us must plant 60 trees in his lifetime in order to give back to the nature what he has taken in the name of development. The audience appreciated his thoughts on the subject and many young students indicate that they will spread this message further for the benefit of the society.
Interactive Session: “Face to Face” with Entrepreneurs
This session aimed at activating the entrepreneurial spirit amongst young participants of the conclave by face to face interactions with successful entrepreneurs. KSRM believes that great problem- solving happens in an environment that values in-person debate and dialogue. In today’s fast-paced digital world, face-to-face interactions are more important than ever.
The event started with presentations by two entrepreneurs promoted by Sahaj – a SREI venture initiative. Both rural enterprises were promoted to promote education at village level. A video clip highlighting the activities of both the entrepreneurs was shown to the audience.
Mr. Gangadhar Dehery, joined Sahaj as “Rural IT Entrepreneur” in 2008 to start his venture in Kusang village of Bolangir in Odisha. He started his venture after his failure with a microfinance institution. Determined to stay in village he decided to start online education business to earn his livelihood. The connectivity and new way of delivering education was the stumbling block. With door to door campaign he created the need for computer education followed by cross selling various services customized to the background and need of each customer. Having succeeded, he is aspiring to be the best e – Sikhsha entrepreneur of Sahaj in India.
Jyoti Chaurasia, from Samshe Village in UP joined Sahaj in 2010, with a resolved to serve the community and to drive social change. While starting her e-learning courses she faced challenges like acceptance as an entrepreneur being a woman; internet connectivity and frequent power failures. With her unrelenting efforts today she admits 8-10 students a month in e-learning courses and has sold 54 courses in the last financial year. As a part of our cross selling effort to drive income she offers railway and flight booking services, sells solar lights and extends insurance premium collection services. She feels good when young girls around her tell that she is their source of inspiration. She wants to help villagers to become computer literate.
Mr. Rajesh Singh, Director and Co Founder, Indo Empower, and ex-HUL, made a presentation on his livelihood project “SWAVALAMBAN” being driven by him in Bihar. The intervention aims to empower and engage women in to an activity that suites them and helps them in income generation. The intervention has also enabled selected poor households to diversify and enhance sources of income and secure increased access to human development services and social entitlements. The process is to identify the produce that makes difference to farmers’ life, and identify the right consumers for this produce, build a channel of rural enterprise facilitated by unemployed youth in the village to link enterprise with the market. He indicated that through an average investment of Rs.11898/-, models help to generate net income of Rs. 11840/- meaning 100% ROI.
Mr. G. Srinivas presented his rural agro entrepreneurship model to drive rural development and inclusive growth through farm sector. He highlighted the situation of small farmers and raised a question that how the issues can be addressed methodically and cost effectively. He began with highlighting the entrepreneurship trades which includes business orientation, opportunities to monetize, organised and perseverant approach, calculating risk taking and path to sustainability. He shared a live case study from Cambodia to make his point as to how small farmers can be helped through agro entrepreneurship using ICT solutions and improve the return of small farmers from farming.
Mr. Arun Nagpal, from the Mrida group highlighted the business philosophy of his group and named number of development activities in which Mrida is involved with namely viz. sustainable, scalable business models aimed at integrated and holistic rural development; solar micro grids and agriculture led interventions as development triggers. He stated that their revenue / business models will be built around Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) and Self Help Groups (SHGs); CSR initiatives; crowd funding opportunities through social media. The Mrida’s holistic development framework of sustainable, scalable rural development consists of skill development and livelihood generation; leadership development; energy access and agricultural interventions with environmental concerns. He went on to highlight some of the interventions, their undertaking in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Ladakh in Jammu Kashmir. His advice to young entrepreneurs in terms of core attributes included an open mindset, perseverance and commitment, self belief and passion. In the end he said that only limits, as always are in the mind – you cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.
The last presentation was from Mr. Narendra Thakre of Energy Green, alumni of KSRM. He narrated his journey of starting his new company in 2011 in Bhopal and made rapid strides in short period of time. Currently his company vertical includes solar energy projects, LED manufacturing unit, centre for solar energy training (C-SET) and project consulting cell. His model of product / projects is strongly back by service at local level through village level entrepreneurs. He has future plans to enter into solar irrigation system, solar water purifier, and solar MW project and wind power. Before giving descriptions of his project he made mention of two important issues for the young potential entrepreneurs, firstly trade off between family and work, society networking, luxury vs. simplicity and hobbies vs. passion. He also cautioned that main challenges and risk for new entrepreneurs are related to finance, market access and negotiating the social environment.
These presentations were followed by breakout sessions in which the participating teams and KSRM students had the opportunity for a face-to-face interaction with the successful entrepreneurs. This unique session helped the young students to seek clarifications and get their concerns addressed with regard to success of rural entrepreneurship in the current business environment. At the same time, the entrepreneurs were able to create opportunities for themselves through new contacts and business engagements from interested participants in the conclave.
The cultural evening hosted by KSRM students received overwhelming appreciation and left the audience spellbound. It was a wonderful combination of dance, drama and music at its best.