Entrepreneurship Redefined

Sonam Wangchuk’s ‘problem solver’ comment removes the confusion around the meaning of entrepreneur
Representational Image
Representational ImageFile/ GK

A couple of days back, a renowned innovator from Ladakh, Sonam Wangchuk, created a buzz when he stated: “Entrepreneurs to me are not those who just make money and more money. Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. If you are not problem solvers, you are not entrepreneurs”.

He went on to add, “If you’re making money, and even problem-solving, you’re not a good entrepreneur. You have to be helping others come up with you. Then you are true entrepreneurs”.

Here, Wangchuk’s unique creativity merits a mention in the line of his contribution to the nation’s security. He invented an eco-friendly solar-heated military tent that Army personnel can use in extremely cold places like Siachen and Galwan valley in the Ladakh region. This invention saves on the use of fossil fuel and at the same time increases the safety of military personnel deployed in these extremely cold places.

Continuing his innovative thoughts, he, while speaking at an event in Coimbatore redefined the meaning of entrepreneur as ‘problem solver’. In the context of prevailing socio-economic issues confronting the world, especially in the aftermath of Cocid-19 pandemic, the communities seriously need ‘problem solvers’ who not only can build fortunes for themselves, but also help the societies and communities to get scaled up on the economic front.

Today’s entrepreneurship has necessarily to be on these lines as the  the COVID-19 pandemic shattered the established world-order in a single stroke, affecting all walks of human life be it economic, health, social or mental well-being. Despite being an unprecedented health emergency never seen in a century, the pandemic put significant stress on almost all the economic sectors.

The pandemic overhauled the world order and redefined the culture of businesses. In fact, the crisis put a host of challenges to the entrepreneurs as they have been left with no option but to realign their entrepreneurship in line with the changed (and continues to change) business scenario to remain afloat. Pertinently, entrepreneurship is important to the Indian economy as they contribute significantly to the country’s GDP.

Let’s have a look at the culture of entrepreneurship being promoted in Kashmir. Here every second person you meet claims to be an entrepreneur. Here entrepreneurship has been given a different meaning. Ironically, simple selling of bread, butter, potatoes, tomatoes etc is called entrepreneurship in Kashmir.

For the past few years, we observed a shift in the attitude of our youth, especially educated youth as they were looking beyond government jobs. I could feel a spark in our youth force not only to get self employed but also to generate employment for others. I knew scores of youth who were holding degrees from foreign universities and established socially responsible enterprises here. But after some time most of them vanished in thin air!

Some time back an MBA from an Australian university established a jute-based product manufacturing unit in a remote south Kashmir to provide employment opportunities to the village youth and at the same time promote environment-friendly products. He generated a bit of heat in his venture in early days, but lost steam just after the first year of his venture. He found his earnings neither matching even his personal needs nor his social objectives of bringing change on the environment front.

However, over a period of time we have observed a breed of youth establishing business units here and there in the region and projecting their activities as entrepreneurship. For example, running a franchise of an established brand or selling fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) or consumer packaged goods (CPG) is called entrepreneurship here. Basically, doing a business just for profits alone and entrepreneurship are two different concepts.

Entrepreneurship is not only limited to starting business to earn profits but it also encompasses a combination of notions of innovation, changes, opportunities and resources along with social responsibilities. Precisely, an entrepreneur means a business leader and most importantly an innovator of new ideas and business processes.

Good business model embedded with social responsibility, ability to swallow financial risk, creativity, time management, be ready for anything attitude, ability to be flexible, think out of box, resilience after failure, stress management and the ability to think strategically are some of the qualities which makes an entrepreneur. Acting like a commissioning and forwarding agent is not entrepreneurship.

General rules apart, socially responsible entrepreneurship carries a huge value at our place. Besides making profits, entrepreneurship should equally pursue solutions to our plenty of social problems. It should be considered as a new entrepreneurial culture among our youth and it has to be seen in a different and new dimension. It should ensure better living and improve communities through their social activities.

In other words, entrepreneurship should change the way we live and work. If successful, the innovations may improve our standard of living. In addition to creating wealth from entrepreneurial ventures, there should also be creation of jobs and the conditions for a prosperous society. This way our entrepreneurs in true sense can turn out to be our national assets which then need to be cultivated, motivated and remunerated to the greatest possible extent.

Notably, the major contribution of entrepreneurship among other things will lead to capital formation, creation of employment opportunities and promotion of balanced regional development. At the same time it will reduce concentration of economic power and remove the element of growth of monopolies.

Meanwhile, as the world is busy in aligning its economic order to the Covid-induced changes, this is an opportune time to mold our culture of entrepreneurship in line with the concept of green economy. Since entrepreneurship development has always been a thrust area at our place, it would be in the fitness of things to see ‘green concept’ embedded in the business models. For example, let it be mandatory for entrepreneurs here to base their projects on the use of alternative renewable energy resources like solar energy.

Since availability of power is crucial to the sustainable growth of entrepreneurship culture, harnessing solar energy would not only help to fight the power crisis, but will also give impetus to the concept of ‘green entrepreneurship’. 

It’s pertinent to mention here that the importance of providing sustainable and affordable energy to the people here in Jammu & Kashmir has always missed the focus of our ‘men of vision’. Our need for power has always remained acute and urgent in nature. As far as providing energy to even the poorest of the poor goes, it is only through harnessing hydel-power.

In short, our young brigade of ‘entrepreneurs’ need to stick to the basic concept of entrepreneurship to act as change agents to create social value. And in all circumstances, the job role identified by Sonam Wangchuk for entrepreneurs as ‘problem solvers’ holds ground. Kudos to the great innovator for being a problem solver in the context of removing the mess around the definition of an entrepreneur once for all.

(The views are of the author & not the institution he works for)

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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