Knowledge creation and dissemination

Large Scale Problem

One of the major reasons cited for not starting up business by village households is ‘lack of business ideas’. Even the existing entrepreneurs crave for exposure to best practices/ growth ideas/ new markets. The mentoring needs of entrepreneurs change drastically with each growth stage of business. For instance, before the start of business, mentoring may be needed for business opportunity identification, market entry strategy, lean startup strategy and fund mobilization strategy. At time of start of business, mentoring may be needed for choosing the right location, sourcing the right machinery and hiring the right labour. At time of expansion of business, exposure may be needed to the best practices in quality management, customer relationship management and new market segments.

For first generation entrepreneurs in villages, hardly any avenues exist for knowledge accumulation, which can be clubbed into following categories –

  1. Domain skill – the operational aspect of business
  2. Soft skill – the intangible aspects of business like customer interaction, customer retention, art of sales, financial discipline/ book keeping, digital literacy, marketing, credit history etc
  3. Inspirational – The inspirational stories of successful people from entrepreneur’s own community and background. Entrepreneurs give more weight to words of fellow entrepreneurs who have been through similar struggle and experiences, as it is easier for them to connect with such stories.

Entrepreneurs in metro cities draw such knowledge and inspiration from social media hubs and online knowledge platforms (like YouTube, Wikipedia, Google etc) apart from receiving mentoring from professional experts.

Further, majority of entrepreneurs can be clubbed into either opportunity entrepreneurs or necessity entrepreneurs. Bright youth, who are self-driven and are apprentices, take up opportunity entrepreneurship while home-based women (whose spouse may be a daily wage labourer) take up necessity entrepreneurship to supplement income in part-time. [Micro entrepreneurship can be taken up part-time]. The latter target segment cannot afford to either travel to district daily or attend a residential training program. They need knowledge – at their doorstep, accessible at their time of comfort, and tailor made to their local environment.

No such knowledge ecosystem exists in unorganized sector in villages. There is dire need of such an ecosystem. The cost of knowledge creation and dissemination has to be sustainable,  for the model to be replicable and scalable. In such a scenario, knowledge cannot be created by high-cost professional experts. External experts may take considerable time and resources to understand the local context and secondly, may focus on aesthetics that may be an overkill for unorganized entrepreneurs.

How the problem can be addressed

The most optimal and sustainable solution, in such a scenario, would be –

  • Knowledge creation by local community
  • Knowledge dissemination by local community through local mediums
  • Local consumption and adoption by entrepreneurs

All in all, knowledge of the local community disseminated by the local community for the benefit of local community. Experiences indicate that the capacity of village youth can be built to such an extent that they can –

Village screening/ campaigning

The screening team visit remote villages, carrying laptop & projector on a bike. An open wall at central village location is chosen for video screening. Teaser videos (of shortlisted businesses from Market Potential Assessment) are shown for 1 – 1.5 hours in evening. Detailed videos are shown to candidates who express interest in starting up and expanding businesses.

All in all, knowledge videos – at doorstep of entrepreneur and tailor-made to the local environment of entrepreneur – shorten the learning curve and motivate the first generation entrepreneurs to take up entrepreneurship. It also exposes the existing entrepreneurs to best practices and new markets. The knowledge library fills the gap of need-based mentoring at the doorstep.