Unleashing ideas, unlocking potential

Last Updated : 27 January 2010, 12:51 IST
Last Updated : 27 January 2010, 12:51 IST

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Shwetha N A (19) from International Institute of Management Sciences in Belur, Bangalore Rural District is a quivering mass of excitement. With good reason. She is one of the 12 students short listed for the final round of the third National Business Plan Competition organised by I-Create. “I can’t wait to see my project materialise,” she smiles.
The idea for her project — wholesale supply of fresh and reasonably priced milk by saving on pasteurisation costs — was born when she watched her mother at work in their modest home in Kasargod, Kerala.
Years later, when Shwetha enrolled for a 40-hour entrepreneurial programme for students offered by I-Create, a non-profit organisation, while doing her BBM course, she got the perfect opportunity to put her plan into action.

Necessity & invention
Shwetha’s story mirrors the stories of the other 11 participants. A difficult childhood and limited access to resources didn’t deter them from dreaming big.
From manufacturing eco friendly plates made with jackfruit leaves to setting up a professionally run chain of recreational homes for senior citizens, the contestants were bubbling with viable business ideas. “The ideas are all there; what they need now is innovative branding and marketing strategies,” says Harsha Bhargava, President of I-Create. “Making money is key to youngsters. And so, is creative satisfaction. They are willing to work long hours if their work gives them creative satisfaction,” he adds.
According to the young participants, in a country where unemployment figures are steadily climbing, entrepreneurship should be encouraged. “Finding employment is not the only alternative. Job seekers must become job creators,” says Bhargava.

What’s the contest about?
At the end of the 40-hour programme on entrepreneurship, I-Create, with support from Merrill Lynch, invited students at their four centres — Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata and Vadodara — to compile a business plan. Twelve students from each city then competed at the regional level.
Three of the best business plans, from each city, were chosen for the final round in Bangalore at Town Hall on Friday. Their projects were judged based on innovation, marketing strategy, funding options, clarity and presentation skills. The winner of the I-Create Business Plan competition will travel to New York in April to represent India at the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, which is a global event.

 The winner goes places...literally
Lukman Khan (20), who won the National Business Plan Competition, hails from Jugnar, a humble hamlet in Rajasthan. The son of a government school teacher, Lukman shyly reveals that his 98-year-old grandfather is the inspiration for his business idea. His eight-minute presentation on setting up a chain of recreational facilities for senior citizens won the jury’s approval because it was “consistent, competitive and creative”.

 Ecstatic about his forthcoming New York trip, where he will represent Young India at the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship in April, Lukman says, “Young boys and girls in my village have only heard of America on TV and in movies. I can’t believe I will be going there.” But Lukman has set his sights on loftier goals. After college, he will begin putting his business plan into practise with a loan. “Hopefully, other youngsters in my village will be encouraged to take the entrepreneurship route,” he smiles.

Published 27 January 2010, 12:51 IST

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