Reimagining Education For The Next-Gen Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In India

Dr. Rituparna Basu, Associate Professor & Marketing Area Chair, IMI Kolkata Headquartered in Kolkata, IMI Kolkata is one of India’s leading B-schools offering wide range of Management Development and Executive Development Programmes across various industries and sectors.

Post-liberalization era in India continues to witness a remarkable shift in the ideology of Indian youth in favour of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activities. Reliance on entrepreneurship in giving momentum to a fast-moving economy is felt across all quarters. It is well understood that the development and propagation of entrepreneurship would not only tackle the teething problems of unemployment in a 1.3 billion nation, but also bring in economic opportunities towards wealth creation.

A gamut of government led programmes like Startup India, Make in India, Skill India, and Digital India activated across 2014-16 is seeing its initial direct & indirect effects. Growth in the number of active investors in India from 220 in 2014 to 490 in 2015 is further accentuated by the increasing entrepreneurial intent from nine percent in 2015-16 to a 14.9 percent in 2016-17, as reported by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)survey. Falling 'fear of failure' perceptions among prospective entrepreneurs in India is also adding towards upgrading India’s status among the BRICS nations in terms of entrepreneurial opportunity and capability scales. While indications are encouraging, it is time that we take stock of the situation and question whether we are in need for the next version of entrepreneurial ecosystem in India at the moment.

The Indigenous Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in India: A Closer Look
According to the World Economic Forum in 2014, the indigenous entrepreneurial ecosystem in India is the third largest and fastest growing in the world. A reported figure of 10,000 new ventures being created in a single year’s span in 2015 speaks for itself. Considering factors like accessible markets, availability of finance and quality of human capital as the three most important domains of any entrepreneurial system, the emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in India shows a pretty picture. Upbeat fund raising figures taking-off from early 2015, a large market with healthy competitive vibes from indigenous and global players in the business, and a ready access to low cost skilled labour in India has all been reinforcing their virtuous linkages.
Even when we have been able to work-out our unique ecosystem that fits well with our local conditions, the structure still appears to be caught in its own chasm after the phase of initial euphoria and action. It is evident that we do need to take the big leap forward to make it to the next level of entrepreneurial activity in India. Though many would point at the restraints of the regulatory framework as the most important impediment. Yet a closer assessment reveals that, the deeply ingrained cultural issues and mind-sets have been historically working against the development of entrepreneurship in India despite the efforts, policies and frameworks.

Reimagining Education for the Next-Gen Ecosystem
With the primary objective to work-out a solution that is socially relevant,equitable and inclusive, the ecosystem at its next level needs to work-out transformative changes at its very foundation. Education as a base level function having significant linkages with the cultural climate and the overall entrepreneurial support system needs to be revisited with a greater critic. Rethinking on the right education structure to aide two crucial objective of maintaining the supply of skilled human capital and that of imparting entrepreneurship-specific training & education become imperative.

Assuming that traditional formats of education and learning with some additional exposure to entrepreneurship courses at a high school level or that in business school curricula can create wonders, which would be too fanciful. The reality is, still more than 90 percent of the management graduates go for the regular job, avoiding the less trodden path of creating ventures of their own to be on the other side of the table in the highly competitive job market. The existing formal structures of undergraduate/graduate level programs at universities and colleges may still work for maintaining a steady supply of skilled labour. But for the greater purpose of entrepreneurial education that has the clearer objective of helping, supporting and advancing knowledge relevant to entrepreneurial practice at a real-time perspective. The need for Smart-specific, measureable, actionable, responsive and timely education system become pertinent.

Facing the characteristic disruptions of 21st century, reimagining the education system that can strengthen the next version of entrepreneurial ecosystem in India should start with the crucial effort to make education more accessible and flexible. Avoiding debates on whether eLearning can substitute traditional classroom learning or not, focus should be on realizing the contextual advantages of eLearning formats in specifically serving as the most befitting solution to support the next-gen entrepreneurial ecosystem. eLearning in synchronous and asynchronous modes of learning comes with the inherent advantages of offering more tailor-made flexible content that can be conveniently accessed by the entrepreneurial learner at his own pace and often at a lower cost. It is time that we take cognizance that next-gen entrepreneurs seek active and independent learning to stay focused. With lesser fear or failure the Smarter eLearning empowered entrepreneurial ecosystem would induce effective need-based learning that doesn’t deter the progress of the entrepreneurial activity, but acts more as an enabler.

It is heartening to see the growing share of reskilling and online certification programs in taking the online education industry to the level of a projected $1.96 billion by 2021. A larger share of entrepreneurs in the projected 9.6 million-user base taking advantage of this online education ecosystem across nooks & corners of the country, irrespective of caste, creed or gender is what we should be hoping for. To take India to the next level of growth and wealth creation let us not assume that the inertia of the entrepreneurial development can work for itself. The re-imagined system needs thatextra push with private, public initiatives to turn dreams into reality with more cutting-edge courses designed to cater to specific functional,operational,leadership, organization building needs of our extgen entrepreneurs.