Ravi Venkatesan’s GAME aims to create 50 million new jobs by 2030 through mass entrepreneurship
In a rapidly changing job market, where stability is becoming an illusion, Ravi Venkatesan, the former chairman of Microsoft India and Bank of Baroda, believes that the riskiest thing one can do is to hold onto a job. Venkatesan, the founder of GAME (Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship), asserts that the future lies in mass entrepreneurship. Launched in 2018, GAME aims to create 50 million new jobs in India by 2030, with a focus on enabling 10 million mass entrepreneurs, at least 50 percent of whom will be women. In an exclusive interview with Forbes India, Venkatesan sheds light on the state of entrepreneurship in India, the importance of a mass movement, the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and more.
The Rise of Entrepreneurship in India
Access to credit is a major challenge for first-time entrepreneurs and small businesses in India. With over 80 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, the demand for credit is immense. However, the flow of credit falls short of meeting this demand, resulting in a general lack of support for small businesses. This lack of access to credit hinders the growth and development of these enterprises, limiting their potential impact on job creation and economic growth.
In addition to the credit challenge, entrepreneurs in smaller cities face infrastructure limitations and a lack of awareness about entrepreneurial opportunities. While major cities like Bangalore and Mumbai have established ecosystems that support startups and entrepreneurship, smaller cities often lack the necessary infrastructure, networks, and resources to foster a thriving entrepreneurial environment. This disparity creates a gap between urban and rural areas, limiting the opportunities available to aspiring entrepreneurs outside of major metropolitan areas.
Furthermore, the potential for growth and scalability is often hindered by cultural values that discourage risk-taking associated with starting a business. In a society that values stability and traditional career paths, the idea of entrepreneurship can be seen as risky and uncertain. This mindset acts as a barrier for many individuals who may have the potential to become successful entrepreneurs but are discouraged by societal norms and expectations.
To overcome these challenges, Venkatesan emphasizes the importance of safety in numbers. When entrepreneurship becomes a common choice, the fear associated with embarking on the entrepreneurial journey diminishes. Cultural shifts are necessary to make entrepreneurship a viable option for all, regardless of location or background. This requires creating awareness about the benefits and opportunities of entrepreneurship, providing access to mentorship and training programs, and establishing support networks that can help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges they may face.
By promoting mass entrepreneurship, India can tap into the immense potential of its young population and create a vibrant ecosystem that fosters innovation, job creation, and economic growth. It is not just about creating businesses, but also about empowering individuals to take control of their own destinies and contribute to the development of their communities and the nation as a whole. With the right support and enabling environment, mass entrepreneurship can become a powerful force for change in India, driving inclusive and sustainable growth.
Challenges and Solutions for Mass Entrepreneurship
Access to credit is a significant barrier for aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses in India. With a staggering number of over 80 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, the demand for credit is immense. Unfortunately, the supply of credit falls short, leaving many entrepreneurs without the necessary financial support to start or grow their businesses. This lack of access to credit creates a challenging environment for small businesses to thrive and limits their potential for success.
Furthermore, entrepreneurs in smaller cities face additional challenges due to infrastructure limitations and a lack of awareness about entrepreneurial opportunities. Unlike major cities where resources and networks are more readily available, entrepreneurs in smaller cities often struggle to find the necessary infrastructure and support systems to establish and grow their businesses. This limited access to essential resources further hampers their ability to compete in the market and reach their full potential.
In addition to these practical challenges, there are also cultural barriers that discourage risk-taking associated with starting a business. In Indian society, there is often a preference for stable employment rather than venturing into entrepreneurship. This cultural bias towards job security can deter individuals from pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors, as they fear the uncertainties and risks that come with starting a business. Overcoming this cultural mindset requires a significant cultural shift that values and promotes entrepreneurship as a viable and respectable career choice.
To address these challenges, Venkatesan emphasizes the importance of safety in numbers. When entrepreneurship becomes a common choice, the fear associated with embarking on the entrepreneurial journey diminishes. By creating a mass movement of entrepreneurship, where starting a business is seen as a viable and accessible option for all, regardless of their location or background, the barriers to entry can be significantly reduced.
This cultural shift towards mass entrepreneurship requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including the government, educational institutions, and the private sector. It involves creating awareness about entrepreneurial opportunities, providing training and mentorship programs, and improving access to credit and infrastructure in smaller cities. By fostering an ecosystem that supports and encourages entrepreneurship, aspiring entrepreneurs will have the necessary resources and support to succeed.
, access to credit, infrastructure limitations, and cultural barriers present significant challenges for entrepreneurs in India. However, by creating a mass movement of entrepreneurship and promoting a cultural shift towards valuing and supporting entrepreneurial endeavors, these barriers can be overcome. With the right support and resources, aspiring entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and locations can unlock their full potential and contribute to India’s economic growth and prosperity.
Empowering Women Entrepreneurs
Expanding Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs in India
Access to credit is a major challenge for first-time entrepreneurs and small businesses, and this challenge is even more pronounced for women entrepreneurs in India. While the global landscape for women entrepreneurs has shown growth, India lags behind. Only 16 percent of all businesses in India are led by women, and that number drops to a mere 5 percent for businesses with more than five employees. Furthermore, only 27 percent of women-owned businesses report an annual revenue of more than Rs 10 lakh.
To address this gender disparity and provide more opportunities for women entrepreneurs, Ravi Venkatesan advocates for creating cohorts of women entrepreneurs. These cohorts would bring women together in groups of 10 or 20, providing a supportive environment where they can learn from each other and gain confidence in building businesses. Peer-to-peer learning within these cohorts proves to be powerful in empowering women entrepreneurs, as they can share experiences, knowledge, and strategies for success.
In addition to creating supportive cohorts, it is crucial to increase the number of women funders in order to provide access to credit and support women in identifying viable business opportunities. By having more women involved in the funding process, there is a greater understanding of the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and more opportunities for funding can be made available.
Creating a cultural shift is also necessary to make entrepreneurship a viable option for all women, regardless of location or background. This cultural shift involves changing societal perceptions and norms that discourage women from taking risks and starting their own businesses. By highlighting successful women entrepreneurs and showcasing their achievements, the narrative around entrepreneurship can be reframed, inspiring more women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams.
, addressing the gender gap in entrepreneurship requires a multi-faceted approach. Ravi Venkatesan’s GAME aims to create a mass movement by making entrepreneurship accessible in every corner of the country, with a specific focus on empowering women entrepreneurs. By creating cohorts of women entrepreneurs, increasing the number of women funders, and fostering a cultural shift that supports women in taking risks, India can unlock the full potential of its women entrepreneurs and pave the way for widespread prosperity.