Development Alternatives (DA), a social enterprise working in the field of sustainable development along with “la Caixa” Foundation, the leading foundation in Spain, and the third foundation worldwide in number of assets, recently launched the “Work 4 Progress” initiative in the national capital. The initiative addresses the need for a multi-faceted and innovative approach to creating systemic solutions that unleash entrepreneurship—not only creating enterprises by the millions but also enabling them to create decent and attractive jobs—jobs that we want.
H.R.H. the Infanta Cristina of Spain, Jayant Sinha, Minister of State and Dr. Arun K Panda, Secretary, Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, were present at the occasion.
In less than ten years from now, by 2027, India will expand to become a $6 trillion economy. The country’s impressive growth trajectory has however, not translated into a corresponding increase in jobs. For every 12 million Indians who join the workforce each year, less than 1 million are able to find what the International Labour Organization would classify as “decent work” in the formal economy; the rest struggle in situations of obvious unemployment or disguised under-employment.
“Micro enterprises could play an instrumental role in sorting this crisis as they create local jobs in large numbers. Employing 80 million of India’s workforce, any impetus to this sector will have significant multiplier effects on economic resilience and social well-being. India needs to harness the power of micro-enterprise”, said Shrashtant Patara, senior vice president, Development Alternatives.
Entrepreneurial attitudes and resourcefulness run deep in India—from the busiest streets of Mumbai to the remotest villages of poverty stricken regions in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. People’s strengths and their initiatives are however, stifled by a complex set of social and economic factors. Very few are able to set up entrepreneurial ventures. Age-old constraints imposed by social norms and lack of access to support services prevent potential entrepreneurs from taking even simple risks that would transform their lives, their inability to do so, in turn, means that no new jobs are created. Obstacles such as the lack of information, poor access to technology, credit and markets along with severely limited risk taking ability become insurmountable.
Micro-entrepreneurship is critical to shaping the future of work; especially for those being left behind in the race for jobs. There is a need to develop new approaches to entrepreneurship in the face of jobless growth driven by social innovation, connectivity and empowerment. Overcoming these challenges could potentially resolve the issues of unemployment and migration in the rural regions of India today. Work 4 Progress aims to find solutions through inter-active processes of co-creation; proceeding then to prototype solutions and share learning among a network of change-makers to eventually create impact at scale. Through interactive processes, it will explore critical touch points, the significance of which has been re-iterated throughout individual and community level narratives. Prominent among these are—specific needs of women and youth on the threshold of entrepreneurship, the role of technology in enabling micro enterprise development, policy interventions that can simplify the complexity of the enterprise ecosystem that open generational and gender related divides in an increasingly inter-connected society and emergence of meso-level actors who can build better access to credit and new markets.