By: Mrs. Purnima Jha
I would like to give our industry some friendly advice. Don't wait. Don't Relax. There are immense opportunities in India." - Narendra Modi
Yes! There are monumental opportunities waiting in India! With campaigns like Make in India and other initiatives, entrepreneurship is at all-time high. It's good that we are taking care of our adult entrepreneurs, but what about the budding ones who are still in school? Are we doing anything to encourage them and build their entrepreneurial skill?
Being a teacher, I have seen many children who have demonstrated a strong entrepreneurial streak.
Once we asked kids to design and draw something that would be useful to us in summer. A five-year-old girl came up with a picture of an umbrella that had a water bottle with sipper attached. Whenever you are thirsty, you can directly drink water from this while using the umbrella. Another student attached a paper fan to the school uniform (like we have a whistle attached to NCC uniform). Whenever the weather is very hot, just blow the paper fan!
How many Indian parents think of making their kids entrepreneurs? How many schools have entrepreneurship as a part of their curriculum?
These examples just skim the surface--we have so many budding entrepreneurs in our schools! But the question remains: what are we doing to support them? Are we nurturing their entrepreneurship skills?
Anupam Mittal (founder & CEO People Group) who is an entrepreneur once said in a seminar, "Most of the entrepreneurs in India are accidental entrepreneurs and mine is a very similar case."
Isn't it true? Entrepreneurship just happens accidentally in India! How many Indian parents think of making their kids entrepreneurs? How many schools have entrepreneurship as a part of their curriculum?
I sometimes wonder what propels these "accidental entrepreneurs" since they have very little encouragement from school and society.
Who is an entrepreneur?
Let us try to understand an entrepreneur first. What mindset do they have that makes them diverge from conventional career paths?
Below is a quote that sums up the answer to that question:
I believe anything is possible
I see opportunity when others see impossibility
I take risks. I am focused. I hustle
I know that nothing is unrealistic
I feel overwhelming love
I embrace my childlike wonder and curiosity
I take flying leaps into the unknown
I contribute to something bigger than myself.
I create, I learn, I grow, I do
I believe it's never too late to start living a dream.
I am an Entrepreneur. -Unknown
Wow, India needs millions of these entrepreneurs. Don't we need people who can make impossible possible? Who can think out of the box and bring solutions to our existing problems? Who can see an opportunity when others see an obstacle?
Don't we need people who can make impossible possible? Who can think out of the box and bring solutions to our existing problems?
If you think the answer is yes, then we all should put our efforts to achieve this.
The role of the school curriculum
Entrepreneurship education can be a part of the school curriculum. In my opinion, we can start building an entrepreneurial mindset right from preschool. Sooner the better!
How about giving some real-life challenges to kids and letting them find the solution themselves? This will not only help in improving their high order thinking skills, but will also increase their self-esteem when they complete a task on their own.
One could even introduce project-based learning for entrepreneurship where kids can take a problem in hand, ideate the product they will make, create a small business plan and come up with the sample product. There is so much that can be covered in the curriculum, including marketing, advertising and networking.
The role of entrepreneurs
I love reading books about entrepreneurs and have probably devoured 100 such tales of their journeys (one thing that seems to drive all of them is love and passion for their work). Whenever I read about such a trajectory to success, the entrepreneur inside me wakes up!
In Singapore, entrepreneurs are encouraged to adopt a school. Why can't we do it in India?
If just reading a book can have this effect, imagine how much kids can be motivated if they get a chance to meet these entrepreneurs. How useful will it be for them to be mentored by a real entrepreneur.
In Singapore, entrepreneurs are encouraged to adopt a school. Why can't we do it in India? As a teacher, I will be able to only give theoretical knowledge, but the firsthand experience can only come from an entrepreneur. Hope Indian entrepreneurs are reading this!
The role of society
Society can play an instrumental role in nurturing our young entrepreneurs. How about kids doing a survey in the neighbourhood to find out about people's lifestyle and the problems they face? For example, they find that houses are very small and families are big. Can our youngsters suggest designs of multipurpose furniture that can fit in small areas?
Once samples are ready, other people can help by giving feedback for the sample product. We all have some insights and learning from our life. How nice will it be if we can pass it to our younger generation? Why put all the responsibility on the schools?
We have to trigger a burning desire in our kids to solve problems around them instead of complaining about the wrongs in society.
How about a community haat where kids get a chance to showcase their products and adults can actually buy them. Can you imagine how much it will bolster the self-esteem of children if this happened?
We have to trigger a burning desire in our kids to solve problems around them instead of complaining about the wrongs in society. Believe me, it will bring a big change. Let us all be change-makers for good. Let us inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs!
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