The answer revealed some of the challenges, but also subtleties about the Indian environment for entrepreneurs. Whilst many said that they would feel pressure from their families to go for the safe option – the government worker – some preferred the riskier choice.
But some communities, such as the Gujaratis, Marwadis and chetti community in Tamil Nadu, would be more open to entrepreneurship, with one participant saying, “If you were to ask a Marwadi family, they would reply [of the entrepreneur], what is his projected turnover?”
Such differences highlight a major challenge faced by YBI and our members around the world – to understand barriers faced by young people in setting up their own business. These barriers could be based around culture, such as the government being seen as a better employer; or around infrastructure, such as access to technology being very low; or connected with discrimination, particularly with women.
But the important point is, these barriers are different everywhere, and this requires support for young entrepreneurs to be constantly tailored for the specific context.
That’s why since we have been working on a Contexts Framework project, to better understand these issues. The project is run in partnership with Warchild and Restless Development, with support from the UK government’s Department for International Development.
This year, we have run workshops in India, Uganda and France to learn more about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in these countries. Our findings were launched at the Making Cents conference in Washington D.C., in early October.
n France, we focused specifically on the Sensitive Urban Zones (ZUS), deprived communities which feature high levels of youth unemployment, crime and drug abuse. Our research showed how young people in these communities face dramatically different issues to young people in the rest of France, such as lack of infrastructure and mobility, high aversion to risk and particular barriers for women.
Finally, our work in Uganda highlighted that in the north, overcoming the hand-out mentality, created through decades of aid dependency as a result of conflict, is a major challenge for any organisation trying to encourage more young people to become entrepreneurs.
Some barriers, however, remain consistent across contexts. Fear of failure comes up time and time again in our work, and was again highlighted in our research in France, Uganda and India. One participant in India told us, “if you fail once, that’s it – you don’t try anything else.” So whilst enterprise support organisations around the world undoubtedly need to learn how their context affects the needs of young people, one thing is certain: their biggest task will be equipping young entrepreneurs with the confidence that they need to get started in the first place.
Thanks to Youth Business International