The first South Asian edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, 2017, co-hosted by the US Department of State and Niti Aayog, has been a runaway success. Commentators cautioned that the excitement surrounding White House adviser Ivanka Trump’s first visit to host city Hyderabad may cloud the objective of the summit, which was to persuade youngsters to innovate instead of chasing run-of-the-mill jobs.
The three-day event that attracted 1,500-odd delegates and 300 investors from 150 countries, offered new opportunities for forging partnerships, and importantly, for highlighting entrepreneurship as a means to tackle intractable global challenges like women’s empowerment, climate change, water conservation and waste management.
But the biggest takeaway is, it cast the spotlight, rightly so, on the changing ideology of governments to look beyond the traditional growth veins and engines of job creation. Economic growth moves in cycles of fad and fashion. Take the IT sector that once delivered astronomical growth. It now seems to be out of ammo and as history suggests, no rally lasts forever. In 2009, the US made entrepreneurship promotion a goal of American foreign policy. Even prior to that, entrepreneurship has been one of the most-potent aspects of brand US, with Silicon Valley as the innovation hub. Its impact spread throughout and entrepreneurship is now seen as a development tool to empower marginalised groups.
Start-ups are the cornerstone of PM Narendra Modi’s high-growth agenda. The Startup India programme includes a string of tax breaks, and allows easier exit. A `10,000-crore fund of funds was floated, but its progress leaves much to be desired. Since its announcement in 2015, just about `600 crore was disbursed to over 75 startups till October 2017. The Centre and states must match their words with deeds and create a conducive atmosphere for promoting entrepreneurship. In this respect, the newest state in India, Telangana has shown the way with its innovative T-Hub.