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Hitesh Porwal

Certified Executive Coach

5 June2020

Poverty is not an accident. It is man-made and can be removed by right human actions.


Q.    How many businesses are out there that can start with zero investment? 

The applicable number is 50 different businesses for each one of us, depending on what skills you have and where you reside. 

Q.    How many businesses can start with a low investment of INR 5,00,000 or less? 

The answer is at least 200 different types of businesses.

Starting a business can seem like a mountain of a task, particularly when you intend to solve a ‘problem.’ Besides minimum formal education, intelligence, and analytical capabilities, you’d require a synchronized function of business planning, business model fitment, view of all demand drivers, and assessment of the competition.

However, these aforementioned inherent complexities are relatively lot less if you want to operate a business that fulfills a ‘basic need.’ Low-investment ideas can be excellent entry-points for beginners still testing the business waters and fence-sitters. I am talking about a local grocery store or a food-on-wheels set-up that can help one eke out a dignified living.

Don't be mistaken; one needs to have a viable idea and an actionable marketing plan to improve brand visibility and provide exemplary customer support to drive repeat business. But one can bypass a battery of conventional costs (overheads, inventory, warehousing, retail space) and the need for core business knowledge if the venture were to operate out of a ‘need-fulfillment space’ rather than a ‘problem-solving’ space. 


Fodder for thought

If you were to attend a university in any of the lower-income states of the country, chances are you’d not be able to secure a sustainable job with that degree. While estimates vary, few can argue that unemployment is rife among university graduates. Reports have suggested that as many as 60% of engineering graduates remain unemployed.

In India, where almost 23% of the population lacks the resources to fulfill the fundamental needs of life, people will not come out of poverty unless tailored strategies are applied.


Business Education as a Tool for Social Consciousness and Innovation

I think that if we can help this underprivileged section of the population to identify viable business ideas and get started (with some assistance during the initial months), it could go a long way in lifting them out of abject poverty.

Sure, things may not pan out at high speed; but when was Rome ever built in a day! We cannot take poverty out of the country's social fabric so soon, but we have to start somewhere.

Don’t you think the following are standard responses of people when asked why they don't start a business?

1.    I don’t know if I can start any business with a small investment

2.    I am not sure because all I've ever done is farming

3.    I don’t have the know-how

4.    I don’t have the money to start

5.    Who will buy from me? Where can I find potential customers?

6.    I am not confident

Don't you think each question above has a solution? Think about business education -- don't you think it can help with training, imparting the basic knowledge of supply chain, managing capital, or servicing customers for that matter? 


"Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings."    -Nelson Mandela


We can argue, but I think the problem we should address today is the lack of know-how of starting a business and finding the right opportunity. I firmly believe that a task force of 'business educators' -- with the requisite knowledge and empathy -- are central to bridging this 'gap'.

That's because only a business educator, somebody who knows what has been happening on the ground, will be able to educate the masses about the possibility of beginning operations with zero investment, and help them with the 'what's' and 'how's' of starting a business.

When one person starts his venture, the business gradually begins generating more jobs for the locals, thereby keeping the funds going round within the community, while also pooling in money from other sources.Clearly, it takes one businessman to induce a domino effect that helps to set the wheels of the economy in motion.

Just think about it, MSMEs in India form the economy’s backbone, and contribute almost 30% to the GDP and near 50% of Indian exports. Small establishments create nearly two-thirds of jobs, and a significant portion of those come from new businesses.


Case to Eradicate Poverty by Providing Business Education

  • The government's fiscal package, while offering monetary aid, must also incentivise 'how to fish.' I am talking about providing complete support to the elderly, homemakers, and the children. However, physically-capable adults can learn 'how to fish', that too in a timely fashion. A dedicated task force, as explained below, will work in tandem with the government for this objective.
  • The task force will comprise, let's assume, 1 lakh people. We will call them 'business educators or coaches' for the sake of our understanding. They will, of course, be broken down into units, stationed across the country. They will be responsible for assisting and enabling people to start minimal-investment businesses in their respective regions.

This task force is to be on the payroll of the government, with salaries linked to results.


The role of a business educator will be to:

·        Identify and empanel people who have come out of poverty through sheer grit and effort

·        Document the compelling case studies

·        Share them with the populace with help from the empanelled members

The idea is to project their success stories and use them as a blueprint for the community trying to break away from the throes of poverty and eke out a dignified life.

I ardently believe that this idea of mine is worth experimenting with as it could bring down the mounting pressure on the government to create crores of jobs every year. It can run parallel to the Skill India campaign. Obviously, the strategies and business options will differ across states, demographics, and business opportunities.

We should strive to position business education as the vanguard for workforce development, considering that self-growth is critical and can be brought about through such education.


In conclusion

Self-employment should be encouraged in the rural heartland, for it not only generates employment opportunities but also leads to the development of the area. Fusing business education with core academics and imparting vocational education to all,combined with other necessary steps, can go a long way in up-skilling and getting people future-ready.

Then, and only then, will we be able to optimally leverage business education as a poverty-mitigation tool that can help to plug a gaping income gap, and reduce social inequality in the process.


Hitesh Porwal is a certified executive coach and founder at WealthPal and Bizstart.