In the past month, we have spent time framing our role as enablers of ‘scalable learning’. Introduced by two Johns (Hagel III and Seeley Brown) as a driver of innovative organisations, scalable learning becomes onerous when applied to a system, the mass entrepreneurship ecosystem in this case. Through interactions with other Alliance-style organisations and a deep dive into the literature on network-learning, we have come to a collection of actions for ourselves. These include:
1. Framing consensus problem statements and success: a necessary condition to scalable learning is the answer to the question ‘to what end are we learning?’ and our commitment to each of our breakthroughs and targets groups will identify clear and consensus-driven problem statements with measures for success. This, we hope, will drive collective ownership of the problem and incentivise learning. For example, with Financial Linkages, an emerging problem statement for us is ‘how can we reduce the default risk and opex of serving solo/micro-entrepreneurs?’. This came through discussions with FinTech platforms and mainstream banks on why this group continues to remain underserved.
“If I were given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute resolving it,” Albert Einstein
2. ‘Making replication great again’: we want to rapidly identify what works and direct greater financial, and execution capacity to local adaptation. To put our money where our mouth is we will set up four ‘place-based’ taskforces, across four different geographical/sector contexts, to encourage Alliance members to trial and scale models that have delivered rich dividends for both them and the local entrepreneurship community. For example, we are initiating conversations with hospitality aggregators to see how their model can stimulate tourism in the Northeast
“Half of all small business start-ups fail within 5 years – the comparable rate for franchise units is half that,” Jeffrey Bradach, Co-founder of Bridgespan
3. Asking you for ‘what next?’: we are happy to announce that our collaboration with the Syngenta Foundation has resulted in two studies on agriculture entrepreneurship. But the question now is, ‘what next?’; new knowledge, fresh insight, and on-ground action, that can build on what we know. One question for future research is: ‘how can we support top-performing solopreneurs to become mass entrepreneurs?’.
We would love to hear from you on problem statements, effective models, and ‘what next’.
Handing it over to our guest columnist Anjuli Duggal, Former Secretary, Dept. of Financial Services, Govt. of India Former member of the GAME Advisory Board, and a North Block legend, her wisdom on all things Finance in India has helped us immensely and we are excited to have her share insights with all of you in this edition of the GAME newsletter.
Team GAME is extremely excited to welcome Srinivas Rao Mahankali as CEO, GAME. Srinivas describes himself as a serial entrepreneur. A veteran with 32 years of experience in the information technology industry, he co-founded Aujas in 2008, with seed funding from IDG Ventures, with a vision to help organizations manage risk and enhance information value through innovation and excellence. He drove the Aujas exit to NSEIT, a 100% wholly owned subsidiary of National Stock Exchange. We believe that Srinivas will be a fabulous and effective leader to take GAME forward in its mission to catalyze 10 million Mass Entrepreneurs by 2030.
Welcome Aboard, Srinivas!
Ravi Venkatesan, (Founder and Chairman, GAME), Madan Padaki, (Co-Founder, GAME), Mekin Maheshwari (Co-Founder, GAME)
In Srinivas’s words: “The way forward for significant job creation is Mass Entrepreneurship. Current initiatives to removing barriers for mass entrepreneurship by govts, NGOs, social enterprises and private sector are high on intention but are mostly fragmented, sub-scale, and supply-driven (skill-centric). GAME’s focus on building a national-level alliance/collective that raises the profile of Mass Entrepreneurship, establish a common understanding of what works and catalyse change in the ecosystem to speed up the time to maturity is path breaking. The opportunity ahead to make an impact is unprecedented.
Our partner 1Bridge has been transforming the lives of rural entrepreneurs. Watch 1Bridge Founder (and GAME Co-Founder) Madan Padaki share an insight into his passion and work enabling rural entrepreneurship
Issues in Access to Credit by SMEs
Anjuly Chib Duggal,
Secretary, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance
Ramkali lives in a village that is twelve kilometres from the nearest town. Circumstances have forced her family to live on its savings. As the savings dwindle, she realises that she will have to start earning. Ramkali has studied until class six, has never worked for wages and can’t leave her house on account of her ailing husband. Not one to lose heart, she reviews her skills. She can cook wholesome meals, and she can sew. She knows that Malti down the street has a son who supplies lunch for workers in a factory adjacent to the town. She checks if Malti needs help in cooking the meals. She does – can Ramkali cook for a hundred every week-day? Ramkali can, but needs bigger pots, packing material, two helpers and provisions to get started. She needs capital. Read More
Focussed Group Discussion – GAME hosted a focussed group discussion on Financial Linkages for Mass Entrepreneurs – read the summary of the discussion with her:
DeAsra hosted a GAME led roundtable discussion on the role and scope of Task Forces and Alliances with partners in Pune
Dr. Madhura Chatrapathy, Founder, AWAKE hosted a GAME facilitated FGD with women entrepreneurs in Bangalore
SYNGENTA Foundation (advised by GAME) conducted two research studies focused on Agri-entrepreneurship. Both the studies have been included in this edition of the Newsletter. Below are highlights from the two studies.
STUDY OF WOMEN AE’s
he Study of Women AEs identified:
a. characteristics of a successful woman AE including demographics such as education background, spouse’ education, land-holding, time spent on the business versus home-care, size of household, investment, etc.
b. adjustments to recruitment and training including confidence-building, spouse involvement, training duration, peer network, female trainers and class demographics, recruitment age.
c. requirements for gender-responsive loans to build resilience and risk-taking ability for higher investments
Self-confidence and risk-taking
- Women are constrained by self-confidence – 93% reported a lack of confidence.
- Aversion to debt and risk-taking – 87% women entrepreneurs have not taken a loan for their enterprises, whereas those with higher levels of investment demonstrated higher income growth.
- Women who work their own lands are more likely to sign up as AEs
- Sensitization and involvement of spouse/in-laws needed for recruitment (they are key decision-makers as reported by 67% women AEs)
- Shorter duration residential training will incentivize more women to try agri-entrepreneurship
- Women AEs over 40 were seen to perform well, and better than their male counterparts in the same age bracket
- 93% women agreed that female trainers and presence of other females in the class, will be more effective and helpful for women to understand and participate in trainings
- Post-training cohort support group / forum for peer networking needs to be set up – in contrast, male AEs are initiating and leveraging networking
- Specialized trainings in confidence-building and business operations are required for the women AE and her spouse respectively (women AEs are assisted in their businesses by their spouses)
Education levels do not correlate to participation and performance of women AEs as much as they do for male AEs. Training by government and NGOs are helping women, with lower levels of education, succeed as AEs. Spouse’s education plays a role in their success as well.
Women providing Input, Nursery Management and Market Linkage services are most likely to see an increase in their income. This can also be supported by other services such as Financial Services and Farm Machinery Rental Services. Market Linkage, Goatery, Veterinary services will also serve as a good combination of services in locations where animal husbandry is a prominent source of income.
Dividing responsibilities between home and business:
- Over 60% of the women AEs spent 6 hours daily on business operations and 8 hours on childcare.
- Over 60% AEs were in 3-4 member households, therefore access to quality child care can offer a source of support.
64% of AEs were good performers, largely due to close mentoring, selection criteria, specialized training and business operationalization.
46% of the AEs in the most successful performance group were graduates, showing strong correlation between education and performance in the largely male-dominated group. Age and previous work experience of the AE were other key independent factors impacting AE performance. An asset-light model is proving successful – 76% of the most successful performance group used seed money to invest in raw material instead of fixed assets, bringing in revenue in the first months to sustain their business.
Initial business planning is a critical aspect for sustainability, ~75% of the well-performing AEs (~76%) achieved a turn-over in the 1st three months. Mentorship is key, and needs to support service-diversification for the AEs, beyond the current focus on agri inputs.
To create a systemic change, the existing ecosystem of public and private must be leveraged, eg. SRLMs and IIEs can be valuable partners. Collaboration with private players on market access expertise can help assist AEs stabilise their businesses and reduce time-to-market.