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Experiential learning via nature Based activity

A lot has been written on what is entrepreneurship? How do you become a successful entrepreneur and various success mantras on it..

Every one has his or her side of the story to write or tell on what it takes to be an entrepreneur… So do I! It might be reinventing the wheel but well there is one thing which I have realized that has made me stay put in my journey of an entrepreneur… I have believed in one statement “Do your work, don’t worry about the results” as stated in Bhagwad Gita. That’s the fact of life… If one makes this statement as his/ her foundation of life, it becomes quite easy to overcome every challenge that comes our way…
Well what this statement really means, is enjoy the process/ steps/ journey… results or your destination will be reached depending on the steps one took during the journey. Entrepreneurship is also the same.
When one decides to become an entrepreneur one needs to have a few things clear in his/her mind in the following order-

Question1. Why am I taking this journey?
Be really honest with yourself. This is your journey nobody else’s. Challenges and problems coming in your own path have been created for you and only you can solve them… No one will be able to give you the right answers. You need to be super clear in your head if you are ready to face these questions all by yourself. After all everyone will be there to tell you, either sugar coated or as a bitter statement, ” It  was your decision, now face it… we cant do much about it, because we have not gone on that forbidden path…” So remember its not for weak hearts and dishonest people. (dishonesty with oneself)

Question 2. If you have the answer to the above question then its time to probe further- What am I gonna do? What is it that will keep me hooked on even when things are not working for me… Trust me it might take years before you really get cracking…. So be very clear and again do that heart to heart talk with yourself what is that you really love or are passionate and are willing to fight for  against all odds to get it right.  Trust me entrepreneurship is not about money… If you think you will make more money by becoming an entrepreneur, then my dear don’t take this path.
Entrepreneurship is about freedom to do what you think is right! Its freedom from the mundane life! Its freedom from taking orders! Its all about creating new paths which world is yet to see.

Question 3. Last question to answer- How do you plan to take this journey?
You have a job! People are dependent on you, how will you sustain yourself and others? This is the toughest question to answer… But trust me if you have answered the above two questions honestly, you will manage your way out.
When you begin the journey of being a true entrepreneur you will be required to continuously ask yourself these questions as challenges will keep cropping every day in some way or the other… its these questions  and their honest answers which will help you move forward in your journey, it might be slow or fast, but you will move forward. You have to constantly keep asking these questions in the same order for any kind of challenge you come across in this beautiful journey to help you reach your destination.If you are asking why, then answer to that is also simple, you are the only one who knows the destination, everyone else are just following you… so they are dependent you and are ready to follow the path you are going to take… After all entrepreneurs are the real innovators and find a way for the rest of the world.

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What are the steps involved and the costs to register a trademark in India?

The official fee charged by the Indian trademark office is Rs.4500 (Individuals, Startups and Small and Medium Enterprises – SME’s) and Rs.9000 (for others) per mark per class. The professional charges start from Rs.1999 and upwards depending on your service provider. It is as simple as deciding to have pani poori from your street corner vendor or having it at a five-star hotel. What’s important to be considered in choosing your service provider [as with any service] is the experience and quality of service one offers.

Your brand is the most valuable asset of your business and you should take some time to choose the right service provider. You can ask your service provider to provide you with a list of trademark they have helped register. Trademark records and their details are made available to the public and your service provider should be able to provide you this without any hassles. You can then cross check a few application numbers at the Indian trademark office website by keying in the application numbers.

Another major issue faced by trademark owners in India is that every tom dick and harry offers trademark filing. Yes, they offer filing, not registration. While I appreciate the fact that several designers, domain name registrants, accountants, engineers, and CA’s offer this as an extended service to their clients, it is unfortunate that quite a few of these service providers learn trademark law at the cost of their clients. It is also important to understand that obtaining a registration for a trademark in India involves several steps and it is not merely a form filling job. You should ask your service provider to provide you with the other costs, if any, from filing to registration. In many cases the trademark owner is in for a surprise with additional costs at a later date when objections are raised by the trademark office or oppositions are filed by third parties.

Let’s understand the steps involved in getting your trademark registered in India.

  • Selecting a mark
  • Classification of goods or services
  • Search the trademark office records
  • Filing the application
  • Responding to objections from the trademark office
  • Advertisement in the trademark journal
  • Handling opposition by third parties
  • Registration
  • Maintenance or Renewal

Selecting a trademark is one of the toughest job for the trademark owner. This is going to be your brand and changing it later is not going to be easy. After several brainstorming sessions, you choose the right brand name for your business. Now that you have come up with a brand name it’s important to do a trademark search.

Classification of goods of services is very important for you to protect your trademark for the right goods of services you offer under your trademark.  It is important that your service provider understands your business well before deciding to select the classes in which the trademark should be protected. For example, your trademark will fall under difference classes if you offer web app development services vs having an app for the purposes of selling goods online.

Trademark Search is the process where the records of the trademark office are searched for the same or similar marks in the classes of your choice to see if anyone has filed for similar marks earlier than you. Additionally, it is advisable to do a general Internet search as well. Several countries including India are not a first to file but rather a first to use country. This means that whoever uses the trademark first gets more rights than the one who filed for an application with the Indian trademark office.

Thought trademark rights are territorial, technology has made the world a small place. Hence, it is advisable to run a Global search in whichever jurisdictions possible. Several trademark office databases are available online with free access.

A good thumb rule we follow at our firm is to check if a .com domain name is available for your trademark. If it’s not available, then it’s a red flag that needs to be considered. Many times, the domain names are merely parked and not used.

Costs for a trademark search: [Professional fees range from Rs.500 to 2500 per trademark per class along with a professional opinion+ No official fees.]

Filing the application may be one of the easiest one once the above steps are done properly. It’s like as getting your foundation in place before you start building your house. However, it is important to put in the right information in your application to avoid any objections by the trademark office on a later date. This obviously comes with experience.

[Professional fees range from Rs.999 and upwards per trademark per class + Rs.4500/9000 as official fees per mark per class.] Timeline: 1 to 2 days.

Objections are raised by the trademark office when they examine your application to register your trademark and the same should be responded to and complied within one month from the date of such objections. Most of these objections can be avoided when the same is foreseen at the time of classification and trademark search by your service provider. This not only saves costs but a lot of time in the process of getting your trademark registered in India.

[Professional fees ranges from Rs.1499 and upwards per trademark per class. No Official fees] Timeline: 1 to 2 months from the date of filing your application.

Advertisement of the application in the journal is because any third party can oppose to the registration of your mark on several grounds. The most common one being that your mark is like their mark. Opposition proceedings are long and costly and could be avoided by following the right strategy before filing the application. Timeline: 4 months from the date of advertising the application.

Registration is granted in the absence of any opposition within 4 months from the date of advertisement. The registration is valid for a period of 10 years from the date of the application.  You should start using the ® symbol on your trademark immediately. Timeline: A week after expiry of the opposition period and in
the absence of any opposition.

Renewal of a trademark in India can be filed six months prior to its expiry date. The renewal grants another 10 year protection to your rights on your trademarks. [Professional fees range from Rs.1999 and upwards per trademark per class + Rs.9000/class as official fees per mark per class.]

Your brand is your most prized asset and trademark rights are perpetual. It should be carefully coined, protected, and maintained. When you decide to file for an application to register your trademark keep these in mind in choosing your service provider.

If you have something to add to this article or comment on the same feel free to comment below or reach out to me by email.

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Trade Marks Rules, 2017 – What it means for Startups & SME’s

The Controller of Patents, Designs and Trademarks through a public notice dated November 19, 2015 brought to the notice of the public the draft of the Trademarks Amendment Rules, 2015 proposing to amend the Trademark Rules, 2002 and had invited comments from the public and stakeholders within 30 days from the date the notification published in the official gazette of India. At last, the Trademarks Rules, 2017  came into effect on March 06, 2017 with several changes ranging from increase in official fees, discount for online filing of trademark applications, hearing through video conferencing, maintaining a list for well-known trademarks among other things.

While this post will cover only the amendments with respect to startups and small enterprises (SME’s) you may also check out posts from my colleagues in respect of the journey of the trademark office from paper filing to digitalpractical aspects of the online trademark filing system, increase in the official fees to an extent of 125% and changes in the rules in general and the reduction of the number of the trademark forms.

The new rules offer 50% discount on the official fees for startups and SME’s (small and medium enterprises) with respect to filing an application for registration of a trademark and for expedited processing of an application for registration of a trademark. Filing an application for registration of a trademark is Rs. 5000 (Paper Filing) / Rs. 4500 (e-filing and expedited processing of an application for registration of a trademark is Rs. 20000 (e-filing only)

The applicant should be recognized as a startup by the competent authority under the Startup India initiative. To qualify as a small enterprise, the applicant’s investment in plants and machinery alone should not exceed ten crore rupees if the applicant is a manufacturer. However, if the applicant is a service provider, the investment in equipment in general should not exceed five crore rupees.

Unlike the Indian Patent Amendment Rules, 2016 where the applicant being a startup/individual/SME enjoys discounted costs for the entire life of a patent application and even subsequently thereafter, in respect of renewal of the patent, the Trademark Rules, 2017 has limited the discounts with regard to Startups/Individuals/SME’s only filing and expedited examination of the trademark application.

The other amendment that startups might find useful is the ability to request amendment of the specification of goods and services in the event of them being wrongly classified at the time of filing the application. On several occasions, entrepreneurs and applicants file applications on their own or using a low-cost filing service provider which may not have an experienced lawyer to classify the specifications of goods and services. When the trademark office raises objections on erroneous classification, the only option earlier was to file a fresh application or delete the specifications objected by the examiner. However, the amendment now provides for splitting the classification and adding new classes to the present application. This will save the applicant from losing time and priority by filing a new trademark application.

Original content of the above blog can be read at:

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New initiatives from the copyright office for registration of copyrights in India

Digital technology is drastically changing our ways of life, whether it’s home or office and the Copyright office is no exception to it. In its attempt to use the technology and to enhance transparency in Copyright prosecution in India, the Copyright Office recently issued a Public Notice wherein stating that the Copyright Office going forward shall publish on its website a list of all applications received by it for copyright registration. The said list shall be published on the first Friday of every month.

Recently, the Government of India has shifted the Copyright Office under the control of the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) which operates under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Now, DIPP has control over Copyright Office in addition to the Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Offices. Over the years, the Trade Marks and Patents Offices have been publishing the accepted applications in weekly Journals respectively and on similar lines, the Copyright Office has now initiated the monthly publication of copyright applications.

Under Indian Law, copyright comes into existence the moment a work is created. However, the copyright registration provides you with the statutory right to have the work protected under law and it constitutes prima facie evidence in case of a copyright infringement. In order to have a copyright registered, the Applicant has to follow the procedure laid down in the Copyright Act and Rules thereunder.

As per Rule 70 (9) of the Copyright Rules 2013, the person applying for registration of a copyright shall give notice of his application to every person who claims or has any interest in the subject matter of the copyright or disputes the rights of the applicant.

In lieu of the said provision, this publication of a list of applications by the Copyright Office would be treated as a notice. Post-publication, the copyright applications shall be open to objections from third parties for a period of thirty (30) days from the date of availability of the said list to the public and in the absence of any such objection being raised within the prescribed time, the copyright applications shall proceed towards examination.

However, in the event an objection is raised by the third party, the Applicant would be required to submit the corresponding documents/response with respect to his copyright application, failing which the application will be treated as abandoned.

This initiative regarding the publication of copyright applications is a significant step forward towards bringing in, the digital technology in intellectual property registrations. The Copyright Office has taken the attempt in order to ease the procedure of Copyright registration in India and consequently, it also paved way for speedier disposal of the applications. The innovative approach of following the procedure of giving notice under the said rule would definitely give relief to the Applicants of Copyright registration.

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Why Startups need to protect their Intellectual Property before disclosing it

Intellectual Property – Creations of your Mind

A hundred and one wonders our mind holds,

And out of it rarely a creation unfolds!

Isn’t that true? Imagine you have created something ingenious, what we formally call “Intellectual Property” or simply IP, like a truly mind-blowing technology/invention or an original design or a very simple yet original poem like the one above. So what would your next step be? Simply cherish the IP and give it all up for the others to use (the right word here is “misuse”) or protect the IP in the way it should be?

Start-Ups and IP

Of course, the above scenario holds good for any person; but it is all the more important if you are a Start-up, fresh into an industry, trying to make your efforts count, especially where your business involves dealing with IP.  Moreover, as a Start-up, you may have the zeal for business, yet being new, you may not possess a clear idea about the implications your Intellectual Property might have on your business.

Why Protect IP

You may naturally have second thoughts about protecting your Intellectual Property and several questions may arise, such as-

  • Is the IP valuable enough to be protected?
  • Why take/waste the efforts and resource to protect the IP?
  • What if I stay put and simply enjoy the IP?

All the aforementioned questions are answered below.

Is the IP valuable enough to be protected?

A Start-up’s IP may be anything ranging from a newly invented know-how/invention that is banked upon to run the very business or simply the brand which would be the identity of the Start-up or some creative content like literary, dramatic, cinematography, artistic or sound recording work.  These are only a few broad examples. In all the cases, your Start-up would revolve around your IP in one way or the other and managing and protecting the same might actually decide the ground for you.

Why take/waste the efforts and resource to protect the IP? What if I stay put and simply enjoy the IP?

Let’s take an interesting example – Imagine you have invented the transportation machine by which you can get transported from one place to another within moments (a.k.a Harry Potter style). Obviously, you would intend to cash in on the said technology/machine and you decide to enter into a Joint venture with another entity and disclose all the details relating to your machine/technology in good faith without any reservation.

One fine day, you find that the other entity no longer needs you in the Project and surprise of all surprises, that entity is already underway to use the technology, claiming ownership for the same. Of course you can fight this out legally, which would take years altogether, by which time your Start-up would, in all probability, have turned to dust.

Another example – You have created a brand/mark for a product and your whole business revolves around it. But getting trademark registration for the mark/brand just slipped your mind and then out of the blue, you come across another mark which has an uncanny resemblance to your own brand. With no trademark registration backing for the mark, you will have to battle with the other party to prove that you are a bonafide owner of the mark and that you are genuinely using it prior to the other person.

Another scenario is where you author a book or create a design and in each case, protection of the IP becomes crucial. Else it is better to be prepared for third parties to hijack your IP and more importantly, the financial openings that your IP would have laid at your doorstep.

The Reasons in a Nutshell

1) Your IP is your brainchild and for this sole reason, it deserves protection.

2) Your very idea of initiating a business/Start-up might have sprung from your IP or in due course, your Start-Up might come to bank upon an invention or a trademark or other original, creative content. So even to get the Start-up thriving and running, protecting your IP is imperative.

2b) As a joinder to the above, your IP might be capable of financially feeding you and your Start-up like royalty for invention licensed to a third party or a franchise and continued protection of the IP is what ensures that the financial inflow does not cease.

3) Where you disclose your IP to third parties without protecting it first, you would only engage in legal battles to prove your ownership to the IP, which is not only time-consuming but will end up swallowing your very Start-up with the financial burden, not to mention the mental agony it brings with it.

Hence it would be prudent to take the effort and protect your IP as soon as creating it rather than disclose and take desperate efforts to hold on to it later.

There is no end to IP protection

Be it a Patent, Trademark, Copyright, Design or other forms of IP, the protection process does not end as soon as you register the IP. IP protection is a continuous process. For one, renewal of your IP (where applicable) as and when it arises, is a must do. Comprehensive information on renewal of trademarks by my colleagues could be found here.

Once you have an official entitlement to your IP, the next step is to stay vigilant to ensure that no person attempts to hijack/infringe it, let’s say by using similar technology/deceptively similar mark/similar piece of work. This is in most cases, entrusted to IP counsels who would have a better idea as to what might pose a threat to your IP. In this situation, you have a better edge since you will not have the necessity to prove your title, which is the most important point to be established.

Driving home the point, in respect of trademarks, where a person has a registration for a mark and a third party has a mark deceptively similar; a suit for infringement (more about infringement could be found here) can be filed and in such a suit, only the deceptively similarity is required to be proven. On the other hand, where the mark is not registered, a passing off action can only be initiated, in which case, not only deceptive similarity, but likelihood of deception/confusion is also required to be proved. This of course is certainly not an easy task.

IP for Inviting Problem or Invaluable Protection

The above would certainly give a fair idea as to why it is imperative to protect IP before disclosure to any person. And there are various ways to protect your IP which would, inter alia, depend upon the nature of IP and other surrounding factors. You could always write to us to know ways to protect your IP.  You could either protect it or wait for others to protect their name of course.

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Paper Works !!!

In a candid chat with Pooja Sriram, owner, Orange Peel, she tells us how social networking and word of mouth are some simple yet creative promotional strategies for business ventures.

Pooja, a 26 year old entrepreneur always had an eye for things unique and creative! “Orange Peel, is one of those creative ideas that actually progressed from an idea to a product and now a business.” Orange Peel is like her in-house creative incubator where, she with her mother and sister, creates beautiful jewellery mostly earrings for now, made from paper in vibrant colours.

“Orange Peel was born in March 2013, just like a hobby. With more people appreciating our work, we decided to name our brand. Before we knew it, we had a logo, a full-fledged Facebook page and several ‘likes’ pouring in! Orange Peel is that little nut-shell that has integrated my love for colour, creativity and social networking.”

Orange Peel also offers Pooja a canvas to bring forth her photography skills as well as marketing tactics. Her large network of friends and acquaintances are now her customers and sure her teachers are proud to see her put the knowledge imparted to use.

What inspired you?

The idea was a pure result of a visit to the many Santes and flea markets that are held in Bangalore. The idea of making paper jewellery is not new; but our products are 100% handmade and the efforts put in to come up with new designs, unique colour schemes, and attention to detail, make us different from the rest. And for the sourcing of material, I am thankful for Mom’s bargaining skills that make the procurement of materials an easy task!

Who are your target customers?

As of now Orange Peel only has paper jewellery which makes women our target customers. We have girls as young as 4 to women as old as 60 buying our products. However, we also have some adorable men buying these as gifts for their wives, girlfriends, daughters and moms! We have plans of expanding our portfolio with hair accessories, key chains, magnets, home décor products, etc and hope to have a more diverse group of customers.

What is the marketing model that you follow?

Orange Peel started just 3 months ago and all our marketing is through word of mouth and the god of all social networking sites – Facebook. Using our own PR skills and Social network Orange Peel has had more than 200 likes in 2 months and the page had more than 3000 views! One strategy that worked for us was to get single boys to buy or promote Orange Peel products with all the girls at their workplace.

How do your customers get the products since these are small goods purchased online?

I like meeting my customers. I either get them to pick it up from my homes, we work from both my Mom’s and Mother in Law’s place, or I meet them and deliver it to them. In case of orders overseas, I have got relatives and friends travelling to deliver my little packets. With our orders increasing, we will soon start couriering them.

About the Author: Pooja Sriram pursued her MBA in Advertising & Marketing Communication from the Manipal Institute of Media and Entertainment (MIME) and is currently an Associate Manager- Product Marketing at a Global Mobile VAS organisation- Onmobile Global Ltd. Orange Peel products range from Rs.29-Rs.149. Check them out at

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The Cashmere Touch of the Pashmina

Most of us who are able to look beyond the insurgency in Kashmir view it as a place with immense natural beauty – a land of stunning lakes and mountains! Nothing epitomizes the glorious history of the Himalayan craftsmanship, as warmly and beautifully as does the Pashmina. Pashmina, prized by kings and nobles and the pride of a bride’s trousseau even now, is often referred to as the ‘diamond’ of all fibres. The artisans of Srinagar narrate the stories of their forefathers who served the Mughals and made a single shawl in a 6-12 month period. Even today their fine art exists and some shawls take months to be completed.

The splendid craftsmanship

Pashmina mainly comes from the Himalayan region and is known for its warmth and long life. The uniquely soft fleece is hand-combed every spring from the soft wool from the neck and chest of the Capra Hircus, the Himalayan mountain goat. These goats are reared in herds at altitudes over 14000 feet in the arid plateaux of Ladakh, Tibet and Mongolia. The thermo conductivity of the wool is one of the best in the world as it survives the animal at -40 degree centigrade in virgin pollution-free climates of the world. Pashmina fibre is 12.5 – 19 microns in thickness (1/6th the size of human hair which is 75 microns thick) making it supremely soft.

 Spinning the yarn

The production of Pashmina shawls in Kashmir is more or less concentrated in Srinagar. Even the raw material traders, small and big manufacturers are situated in Srinagar. The hand spun Pashmina yarn goes through various stages of dyeing, sizing, warp preparation and finally the actual weaving before the wondrous transformation from the unruly mass of fibre to a textile of unique softness, warmth and beauty can be seen. Even after weaving the unique process of tweezing, clipping and washing in the waters of Jhelum gives the Pashmina shawl its royal touch. Due to the requirement of high quality skills in each process the production involves many artisans. Thus the production process is fragmented into various sub-processes. Each type of artisan does their work and then the material is passed on to the next category. The production is controlled by the manufacturers who invest their capital. Earlier the raw material-end till the manufacturing of yarn was controlled by Poiwanis (Raw material dealer) and the finished product-end was controlled by the big manufacturers. But this division has become blurred today as many Poiwanis are into complete manufacturing and the big manufacturers also deal in raw material.

Amongst the artisans the spinners are the largest group, constituting 65-75% of the total number of artisans. The spinning is done completely by women and is one of the most difficult tasks in the value chain. The cleaning and de-hairing of raw pashmina was also earlier done by the spinners but today it has been fully mechanised. The weavers are the next largest in numbers and represent 15-20% of the artisans. The weavers are generally more knowledgeable and enterprising than the other kinds of artisans. Thus many of them graduate from weavers to small manufacturers. Embroiderers are the third in hierarchy of artisans. The present structure of production is described through the diagram below:

The weave

All hand-woven Pashmina fabrics are traditionally woven in the twill weave, with different permutations of it. This can be classified into three categories:

  1.  Saadi – a simple and un-patterned hand-woven fabric employing a four shaft twill weave and various combinations
  2. Kani- a highly decorative brocade textile, made on exactly the same loom as the one used for plain Pashmina fabric, but with woven patterns
  3. Amlikar- usually a plain Pashmina, embroidered upon with very fine Kashmir mulberry silk, Pashmina or cotton thread

It takes the wool from four and over 200 man-hours (spinning, weaving, dying and decorating, finishing) to make just one pashmina shawl. Hand cleaning and spinning the wool for a single Pashmina takes 15 days, so naturally the labour-intensive production is reflected in the price. An original Kashmiri handmade Pashmina may cost between Rs.5,000 and Rs.1,00,000 depending on the level of craftsmanship. Though the craft is under threat from various spurious shawls in market which are sold in the name of Pashmina at cheap prices, the thousands of artisans have maintained their tradition since ages and should be able to protect it even in this globalised world. The artisans in Kashmir say that Pashmina is Pashmina not because of the material but because of the process. Thus one has to visit the bye-lanes of Srinagar to experience the magic of Pashmina.

About the author: Arindam Dasgupta, is the CEO of Tambul Plates Marketing Pvt. Ltd. and is an expert in micro enterprise development. He is currently based out of Barpeta, Assam

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The Fear of Social Entrepreneurship

Does a failed entrepreneur exist? Because no one ever introduced themselves to me as a failed one! An entrepreneur does not take risks, he manages risks. An entrepreneur would find the strengths and opportunities in accordance to the area where the business opportunity is identified therefore the idea behind our entrepreneur is not formulaic.

Social entrepreneurship

In case of social entrepreneurship the problems often identified and discussed on forums are of limited liability for the ‘social entrepreneur’ and unlimited liability for the already impoverished community. In India, social entrepreneurship is ashamed of a success rate of 3%. Grassroots interventionists shirk from taking active initiatives or even providing inspiration because of the lack of knowledge on business management, development strategies and local economy analysis. The core motive of the interventionist tends to dwindle because it lies in a vulnerable place in the community and stems from the daily battle for economic betterment.

Therefore, with the investment of only the time of the self-sacrificing interventionist, not his own philanthropy (read capital) nor the risk or credit of the gravely indebted farmers, one may find social entrepreneurship to be a rising challenge for the handicapped interventionist.

Entrepreneurship in agriculture

Agriculture is not just about good agriculture anymore; it is about more complex avenues for developing agriculture, which requires entrepreneurial abilities to corroborate already existing systems and dissuade them from dependence on farm income.

The major enterprising skills as well as market linkages can identify agriculture and to some extent semi-processing units within the rural sector which can further lead to forward linkages in the rural non-farm sector, thus luring trade related commerce to be on the rise. This is only a certainty if agricultural credit is available to the farmers. However the scope for saving and availing credit for the farmer is a large potential goldmine for money creation in the rural areas, as the ability and willingness to repay for the farmer is very high, provided they are organized.

The reason behind this seemingly distorted analogy about the willingness of the farmer to repay is the more obvious willingness to grow and be more closely associated with the bank that gives interests to the farmers at a lower rate than the local money lender. Thus using the mainstay of the rural economy which is agriculture to spur the rural non-farm sector, it will also help increase the agricultural productivity.

The existing dual economies

The dual economy model does draw sweeping conclusions which may not be applicable to all developing countries alike. But take for instance in case of Maharashtra where it is of great use to observe a dual economy, with the financial capital of the country- your very own Bombay as well as the highest levels of malnourishment in the country- Nandurbar district being just a few 100 kilometres apart. There is a greater emphasis on enhancing the capabilities of the village.

The scope for Social entrepreneurship is immense but the risk isn’t that of the interventionists, it is to a large extent that of the community involved. A community so scared of risk that a lifetime of drudgery and servitude seems better than the effort invested in trying to find a way out!

About the author: Ishani Tikku, has studied M.A. Social work in Rural Development at Tata Institute of Social Sciences and is now working with the Maharashtra State Rural Livelihood Mission

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Ten Questions to decide if you are an Entrepreneur

Note: Views expressed are personal and not meant to offend anyone

The fact you’re currently logged on to the entrepreneur’s e-mag Outbox, is enough guarantee to the fact that there is an entrepreneurial bug creeping somewhere inside you right now! And no doubt you want to know more about how it can help you. Yet, you’re constantly filled with doubts as to whether or not you can be an entrepreneur. It’s time to stop wondering! Score yourself on the following ten questions and discover the real you.

Are you uncomfortable with the status quo?

Do you constantly feel an urge to change the world around you or are you happy with the way things are in your life and surroundings? If you’re happy with how everything has been done by God and men, can adjust easily everywhere and see no need to change or induce changes, you are not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is a change maker. He improves things. He’s never satisfied with who he is and grows agelessly. He’s never satisfied with the condition he is in and improves it untiringly!

Do you spot opportunity?

Do you find yourself looking at empty spaces and spotting opportunities?

Are you a bundle of ideas?

Are you an inactive listener to your friends/family/work discussions or do you participate and come up with ideas sometimes, even if they are fancy? If you extend your imagination and stretch it beyond limits, only then can you find the entrepreneur within you. If you find yourself lying on your bed or sitting in your study, apparently doing nothing but actually thinking about a particular problem, issue or situation? If you do, you’re on your way to generating ideas and becoming an entrepreneur eventually.

Do you attract criticism?

A good way to find out whether there is an entrepreneur within you is to notice how many ‘people’ are criticizing you. Generally, all good ideas attract discouragement from ‘people’. Even though this is not a sure shot way, it happened to more than 90% of the entrepreneurs. Weigh their arguments, pay heed to the ones you find sense in, make amendments if necessary and go on with your idea. An entrepreneur sees things differently. People may not understand your vision and criticize you. But criticism is often a great help!

Do you ‘innovate’?

Innovation is a key to present day businesses. It is about thinking in new directions, exploring paths not yet trodden, stretching to a new domain and following up on it. It is time to ask yourself whether you do things the ordinary way, or do you make a difference in every small task you take up? A hundred and million people may be assigned the same project and yet, if you’re the one to execute it differently, come up with a totally new idea and be bold enough to implement it, you have innovated! Welcome to the league of entrepreneurs.

Do you have the courage?

Are you scared of change? Are you scared of mass opposition to an idea you truly believe in? Are you afraid of failure? One, it is okay if you’re scared. Two, do you have the courage to overcome that fear? Fear is in human nature but an entrepreneur is a natural fear fighter! He believes in himself to an extent that nothing can block his way once he’s seen his destination. He faces challenges with courage and approaches problems as a hurdle he needs to pass to be one step closer to his destination. Do you find yourself submitting to someone else’s wishes, just to take the easy way? Or do you fight it out, for the cause you believe in?

Are you obsessed with (formal) education?

Do you find yourself checking out the list of top schools too often? Is education all you think of? Is planning the next degree and the next and the next all that you’ve done in the past? Take a break. Education equips us. But it is not an end in itself! An entrepreneur attaches more importance to learning from experiences, observation, trials, etc rather than formal education. He knows it is important but only if supported by these other factors.

Thus, even though there is no age to be an entrepreneur, he starts young. He starts with ideas and education is only a tool that indirectly helps him build upon it. An entrepreneur might be a guy whose studying physics but can come up with a slum development model for a locality!

Do you relate to other entrepreneurs?

Do you find yourself watching the success story of a person who changed the lives of a few children with disabilities and getting motivated? Do you find yourself reading heroic stories of men with great business or social impact and idealizing them? Do you find yourself hooked on to Oprah and imagining similar life for yourself? Do you feel an urge to go out there and play your part? If stories of other entrepreneurs make you look at yourself doing the same things a few years down the line, then start planning. An entrepreneur makes dreams come true!

Are you convinced easily?

Do you ask a lot of questions before agreeing to something or someone or are you easily convinced? An entrepreneur has a clear idea of what he wants. He’s seldom confused by others or manipulated. He puts forward his view point and is ready to row the boat even against the flow of the waters. He’s not stubborn; he is assertive. He’s not hard to get along with; he’s ruled by his own principles.

Do you do more than just dream?

It is easy to dream, idealize, imagine and generate ideas than it is to repaint the world. An entrepreneur never sits back. So even if your answer to the above questions is positive, it does not make you an entrepreneur unless you start planning for it and acting on it. It is said, anyone can put on slippers but it takes a lot to carpet the whole world. The entrepreneur acts on his ideas. He is the change he wants to see in the world!

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Less Plastic More Life

It isn’t hard to find examples of antagonism between educational qualifications and one’s dream in life. What makes entrepreneurs different is that they face this mismatch with courage and take a less travelled path.

Vinod Lal Heera Eshwer, the man behind the green mass movement, and a polymer engineer by training, explains, “Although, I graduated with a distinction, I swore never to use any of my knowledge to produce any more of the hazardous stuff. I always dreamed of finding a way of recycling plastic to clear the whole plastic mess. But destiny decided I was better off as an advertising copywriter. So I joined the Advertising industry.

Nine years later I found myself as a creative director with the lingering urge to do something about the plastic mess. So I created a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of using plastic bags. This campaign was spread across the internet, outdoor, posters and print. However, it wouldn’t have seen the light of day if not for the support of my colleague Ramesh who art-directed the entire campaign, Dipen Sagar, a tech genius who created the website, Senthil, a photographer who shot the campaign images, Vimalkirti Deshmukh and Priya, two art directors who did the groundwork. Needless to say, all their services were rendered free of cost and voluntarily. My involvement was that I authored the campaign and was persistent enough to get everybody to make this happen!”

 The Journey so far

The main idea was to raise awareness among people who were completely unaware of ‘the blood they were getting on their hands every time they accepted plastic bags for convenience’. He adds, “We wanted them to pause and think. We wanted them to consider making the journey from plastic to fabric. When the campaign went live, we had no idea how many people would actually care enough to let go of the ‘convenience’ of walking into a shop empty handed and walking out with their stuff in plastic bags. Although, the results were slow, the message had many takers. The site tracker shows that people from across the globe visited the website and continue to do so. The traffic to the website is so high that Google offers the word “lessplasticmorelife” as a suggested keyword.  We consider this a huge milestone in our journey to raise awareness.”

Vinod’s work has aroused curiosities among many who sent him queries on how to make the plastic to fabric shift quicker and cheaper, how to involve NGOs in the production of cloth bags, etc. “The press have been most generous towards this initiative and have provided us with media coverage. Obviously, for a cause like this that’s most often conveniently brushed under the carpet, it is most welcome as it helps spread the word.” He smiles and quickly adds a ‘thank you in advance to Dhriiti.

Message to the youth for setting up any green business/social enterprise

“If we wish to truly reach out and make a change, we need to first be that change. Be clear about what you want and why you are doing whatever you’ve chosen.

The second quality is the resilience to face naysayers, critics and pessimists who’ll keep telling you that it’s not worth it. Ignore them. Walk to the beat of the drummer in your own heart. And keep walking. You are bound to succeed.

Another thing I’ve learned from creating communication for lessplasticmorelife, and treesforfree is that we have to resist the urge to come across as being” holier than thou”. We have to stop sounding preachy. If we wish to make a change we need to connect with the masses in their own lingo but not necessarily on their terms. We have to package our message in a contemporary manner. We have to sound like a friend.

Next, don’t get drowned by information overload. The solutions to the most complex issues are always simple. So learn to identify the simple answers.

Don’t think too much! If you keep second guessing what others will think and so on, you’ll never get around to doing anything.

About the author: Unnati Narang is a graduate from SRCC and a serial entrepreneur. She is the co-founder of and 440 Hertz

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