Entrepreneurship is rapidly becoming one of the most dynamic forces in the Nagaland economy. A flurry of local entrepreneurs have emerged to tackle the market demands and create a self-sustaining economy that also generates more employment opportunities. Call them ambitious, risk takers, go getters, or opportunists, we have a wave of determined young individuals who would like to make Nagaland a commercial economic power hub. Yet, the road to success is not always sunshine and rainbows. To actually reap the benefits is a long winding road with challenges, set-backs and the know-how of dealing with the ground realities that exist in our State.
Entrepreneurship in Nagaland: Challenges and Solutions
Today, with the rapid development of our society, entrepreneurship has become one of the most dynamic forces in the economy. Majority of jobs are created by small businesses which are started by entrepreneurially minded individuals. Entrepreneurs believe that they have more opportunities to exercise creative freedom, have a higher self-esteem, and an overall sense of control over their own lives. Nagaland has witnessed a surging growth in entrepreneurship over the years, especially in locally made brands of food products, fashion, restaurants and hotels, etc. One of the prime reasons for this development is the change in the mindset of the young local populace who prefer getting involved in small time businesses instead of opting for employment in the government sector or migrating to Mainland India.
The increase in the number of graduates has only increased the burden on the government to create more jobs. Wide scale corruption adds fuel to the spirit of discouragement among the youth. This has created a state of hopelessness in many youngsters who have resorted to even criminal activities to succeed in life. Today’s youth are unemployed not because they lack qualification, but because the system has been crippled politically, economically and socio-culturally. The government has done little to reduce the misery and frustration of the citizens. Owing to this, many seek employment outside the state where they have a chance for a better life. During the last few decades the phenomenon of entrepreneurship has gained unprecedented importance on a world wide scale in being regarded as a substantial source of new employment, innovation, and economic growth. In spite of the gloom surrounding the employment scenario in Nagaland, a positive change has been brought about by the growth of entrepreneurship. It has employed a large number of young people, especially high school and college dropouts, or those less qualified.
Entrepreneurship in Nagaland is coming of age, but the reason why it is not coming all together is the lack of resources, especially in the area of skilled mentorship, infrastructure, technical know-how, and capital. The major setback has been the lack of innovation. Common businesses like food and clothing are what the majority of the local entrepreneurs invest in. This has its own drawbacks. Even though it increases competition, it reduces individual profit. The one winning at the end are those who invest not only in the product, but also in a proper marketing plan. Each business needs to have a marketing plan that suits the uniqueness of that business and speaks to the target customer.
Nagas entrepreneurs find it difficult to make their products popular because the market of local products has not been well developed when it comes to promotion, distribution, and collection of customer feedback. In order to solve the problem of marketing, common production cum marketing, centres need to be set up and equipped with modern infrastructural facilities. That will help in promoting export business and enable close interaction of the buyers and sellers, thus avoiding the middlemen.
Another major drawback is the failure to maintain consistency in quality of the products. This is due to lack of availability of standard tool and equipments, and poor quality of raw materials, which affects the business in the long run. The unstable political scenario of the state has only made it more difficult for businesses to flourish. The need of the hour is innovative ideas combined with support from the government agencies and other organizations. Today, employment creation is no longer the responsibility of the government alone, but a collaboration between the public and private sector. By encouraging entrepreneurs and supporting them the government can easily help develop businesses thereby increasing the standard of living in the community.
In this line “Impact 5000 By 18”, a five year campaign on entrepreneurship and employment by Youth Net is functioning to enhance business, entrepreneurship, and employability skills of 5000 youths of Nagaland by 2018, through various programs. The focus should be on encouraging sustainable growth oriented and innovative firms, and not simply fostering more startup businesses. The government’s policy and programmes should create a better climate for starting a business.
The government and NGOs should help in creating a balanced ‘ecosystem’ that includes mentors and a strong support network. Networking and learning among entrepreneurs only makes their functioning more efficient. The local government can help in fostering connection and learning among entrepreneurs by organizing fairs and fetes. The power of entrepreneurship lies within the connections among businesses, the inspiration and mentorship they get. To harness these conditions, successful support strategies should concentrate on bringing businesses together.
The government should come forward to introduce entrepreneurial education in educational institutions in order to instill a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship in the minds of the rural people. That would enable the graduates to become job creators rather than job seekers. Nagaland has many resources lying unutilized. Entrepreneurship will help in locating these resources and mobilizing them to meet the challenges. The great need for entrepreneurship development in Nagaland today is more than ever necessitated by the rate of unemployment and its effect on both the people and the nation.