Entrepreneurial Training: The Need for a Vernacular Turn

The rapid spread of entrepreneurship ideas in the last decade has inspired many youth in urban India to explore entrepreneurship even as the vast swathe of rural India remains largely untouched. Our interactions with ecosystem partners and field visits though indicate a large unmet demand for customized Grassroot Entrepreneurship Training (GET) building on newer insights on entrepreneurship such as effectual entrepreneurship, lean start-up or design thinking contextualised to the Indian and rural context. Both the content and the context of entrepreneurship need a vernacular turn.

ISEED and Grassroots Entrepreneurship Training (GET)

ISEED’s own journey in GET has emerged through consultation workshops with civil society organisations (CSOs) in the region; interaction with grassroots entrepreneurs as part of the National Entrepreneurship Awards (2018 and 2019) and our field visits. We also had state and district level workshop on tribal entrepreneurship that was followed up with a national consultation on “Growing Entrepreneurially at the Grassroots” in March 2019. Most entrepreneurs were unable to get critical mentoring, networking and capacity building support and we realised that small workshops in the vernacular in cohorts of trainers could empower these budding entrepreneurs in the rural areas.

A specialised six-day programme for the National SC-ST Hub in March 2019 provided an opportunity to share our learnings and understand the training needs.We then followed up through Training Needs Assessments (TNAs) in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Daman-Diu and Uttarakhand from (May – September 2019). Our expanding work on incubating FPOs (Farmer Producer Organisations) and collective enterprises had pushed us towards both content and processes that were more grassroot friendly. 

Some Pilots and Future directions

We have since pro-actively explored systematic training programmes in the vernacular through pilot trainings with partners Udaipur Urja Initiatives (UUI), Paryavaran Mitra (working with women ragpickers now managing a solid waste management enterprise), NDDB (for sessions on dairy entrepreneurs), Peoples Science Institute (PSI in Dehradun), AKRSP (tribal entrepreneurs in Dangs) and URMUL. We hope to expand our outreach to more grassroot entrepreneurs in the coming year in a collaborative manner through new curriculum including videos in the vernacular and work towards a trainer’s manual. We intend to innovate both on the content and pedagoty by providing hands-on opportunities to grassroot entrepreneurs to learn, make mistakes and manage risk. We thus hope to co-creating an ecosystem that will make in rural India and doing business in rural and collective enterprises much easier.