Business Line carried an article recently on the Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST). They are, to put it in their own words, "developing entrepreneurs by providing young disadvantaged people in India with loans against no collaterals and a business guru."
According to their website,
To empower young dynamic micro-entrepreneurs, who are disadvantaged and integrate them into the economic mainstream.
To be a role model, nationally and internationally, for mentoring and nurturing small start up businesses through the active involvement of the corporate sector
Long Term Objectives
- To be in the forefront of entrepreneurship development for the underprivileged youth and create employment opportunities for others and thus contribute to national development.
- Develop and nurture qualities of initiative, motivation and enterprise among young entrepreneurs of India.
- Support self-employment in the manufacturing and service sectors that develop entrepreneurial skills and create employment opportunities, thereby converting job seekers into job creators.
- Provide high quality human resource inputs to the development of small enterprises through mentors / volunteers who can provide timely advice and enterprise specific information.
- To create awareness among young people and businesspersons regarding opportunities in entrepreneurship as a means to achieving sustainability for national development.
- To finance & support young entrepreneurs for their development.
At BYST, we want to help the disadvantaged youth through a whole new philosophy of Guru-Shishya Parampara (Mentor-Mentee Tradition). We extend support through a combination of money and mentor, thereby giving total assistance to disadvantaged youths who wish to set up, or develop, their own business. This assistance includes finance, professional advice, training, education and guidance till the venture takes off.
It is "people helping people" - which is what BYST is all about.
This is just what we need to be doing on a much larger scale. There are some other efforts by organisations like Aavishkar who are attempting something very similar, but through the equity route, by investing very small sums (in the range of US$25,000 - something that VCs would scoff at) in start-up companies. According to their web site,
Aavishkaar seeks to nurture and initiate creative thought processes at the grassroots level, to convert them into thriving enterprises.
Aavishkaar seeks to provide resources and assistance to rural endeavours that establish themselves beyond the stage of concept and prototyping into a fledgling economic effort.
Aavishkaar intends to transform nascent rural ideas into coherent business entities by funnelling resources at the point and time where it can be most effective so that the change spreads at the roots of the rural Indian society and blooms upward.
The primary commitment of Aavishkaar is to effect a change, by promoting growth of grassroots and organic ideas and enterprise.
On a similar note, Junior Achievement (JA), an organisation based in USA, is doing something very interesting. They are targeting potential entrepreneurs at an even earlier stage - right from when they are in school. According to their web site, their vision is
To educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business, and economics to improve the quality of their lives. From this, we articulate our mission: To ensure that every child in America has a fundamental understanding of the free enterprise system.
Junior Achievement reaches approximately 5.2 million students worldwide. Through age-appropriate curricula, Junior Achievement programs begin at the elementary school level, teaching children how they can impact the world around them as individuals, workers and consumers. Junior Achievement programs continue through the middle and high school grades, preparing students for future economic and workforce issues they'll face.
We do all this with the help of our volunteers. Volunteers who so care about our youth they take time out of their day to make a difference.
We ought to be attempting something like this in India too. It is best to start as early as possible and instill an appreciation for entrepreneurship, hard work and business sense, to help spur entrepreneurial activity. The notable thing about JA is that it is largely a volunteer driven activity, but extremely well oiled and organised.