Wadhwani Foundation’s flagship Initiative, National Entrepreneurship Network (NEN) has initiated a concerted effort to transform Indore and Bhopal regions into a model entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The initiative is aimed at creating impact opportunities in emerging cities with entrepreneurship development as a key tool for sustainable job creation.
The pilot effort is being undertaken in Indore and Bhopal. While Indore is the mini-Mumbai or the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh with steady growth in entrepreneurial potential over the last few years, Bhopal too is experiencing a growing list of entrepreneurs. Majority of the 500+ startups in Madhya Pradesh operate out of Indore and Bhopal, tapping into the technology wave. Many of them are focused on IT and e-commerce.
This initiative is targeting on boarding of 100+ mentors, 50+ growth stage startups and 100+ early stage startups in the next 6 months’ time-frame and providing help and assistance to them. NEN is looking at on-boarding another 25-50 angel investors through the angel investor workshop.
The Foundation and NEN seek to enhance the entrepreneurial capacity in Indore and Bhopal, with intent to have a multiplier effect on job creation and the growth of the city’s economy.
A key entrepreneurial support element will be India’s first-ever Startup Help-desk consisting of free access and service to resources that are just an email away. Any startup can drop an email to NEN at firstname.lastname@example.org. NEN’s in-house help-desk consultants will answer queries, provide links to tools, templates or connect the startup with service providers based on their requirements. The help-desk welcomes feedback on the services provided and their usefulness.
“Optimum utilization of the local demographic dividend is critical for entrepreneurship development. Indore is an educational hub with skilled professionals and along with Bhopal is in the middle of the country providing a direct and seamless connectivity by all means of transport. Such available support infrastructure with immense growth potential will now be leveraged by a network of entrepreneurs, mentors and investors towards providing a fillip to the entrepreneurship fervor in the two cities,” said MD India and Asia Wadhwani Foundation, Suman Sasmal.
NEN’s activities primarily comprise of providing mentoring, learning and investor connects. The NEN experts are spending significant time in Indore meeting entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, various associations, educational institutions, media houses and other stakeholders to understand the nuances and requirements of the city’s ecosystem.
NEN envisions playing a ‘catalyst’ role in spurring the entrepreneurial activities through networks and partnerships and bringing the required resources and knowledge to the entrepreneurs.
Ramakrishna Kalluri, Vice President – NEN Ecosystem, Wadhwani Foundation is excited at the prospect of Indore and Bhopal as thriving entrepreneurial hubs. “It gives me great pleasure that the Wadhwani Foundation’s flagship initiative, National Entrepreneurship Network, is now expanding its network and capacity building model to Indore and Bhopal. We see tremendous energy, enthusiasm and innovation in the younger population in this region. We are confident that by enhancing the networking and learning opportunities between startups, mentors, investors, angels, ecosystem partners and academia, we will greatly enhance the entrepreneurial growth opportunities in this region,” he added.
Awareness on entrepreneurship among students and youngsters in Tier II cities like Indore and Bhopal has gone up significantly in the last few years. Lot of youngsters are taking entrepreneurship as their preferred career choice and starting new ventures. However, important stakeholders who act as support systems to these aspiring entrepreneurs are still evolving and far from maturity.
There is a need to develop and nurture mentors, angel investors, faculty, corporate, media so that they play much more active and constructive role in contributing to the ecosystem.
A key element of the startup ecosystem in any geography are high-quality mentors who are a scarce resource. NEN is making special efforts to bring on-board city-based mentors to add to its existing global mentor base of 400+. The entrepreneur and mentor engagement efforts are geared towards assisting entrepreneurs to get the best of help possible within the ecosystem by building sustainable and scalable online and offline networks.
Short to medium impact of this NEN initiative will be in the form of increased startup successes, accepting entrepreneurship as a viable career option and better networking and coordination among various stakeholders for efficient value delivery to entrepreneurs in terms of capital, know-how and innovation.