A Chapter from my forthcoming PartV of Mentoring Startup Entrepreneurs ebook/ Paperback

Ambitious Startpreneur

Why are Governments insensitive to Social Entrepreneurship?

Startpreneurs are Ambitious !

There is not much worth to being enterprising if you don’t have the ambition to make progress. Your alpha personality makes you want to do more in every aspect of life. “All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.” – Mark Twain saying may sound to have been said in jest yet it is useful. 

I support NGOs, Section 8 (Old Sec 25) companies, Trusts in their formation strategy onward as Pro-Bono Advisor. As I retired in early 2012, Walking in the morning and evening became a daily routine. Later, post my cardiac issues and diabetes – it became part of the medical management prescribed. 

I now walk between 10-12 Km and keep fit. While walking I use several trial Health related Apps to keep testing as an amateur beta tester on my mobile phones. While music and FM Radio Apps are my constant companions – I am fortunate I still watch a lot and it helps me observe things. 

I met in Gujarat my friends who are doing pioneering work in Social entrepreneurship using CSR funds which remain un-utilized by the corporates for Skills development and helping Startpreneurs – Really Micro ones – those who can start business with a Seed capital given as a grant of Rs. 25-40000. That is very small indeed.

On my way of this walk, I visit a Ganpati Temple with a 60Ft tall statue. It is close to a bus-stand and a new Sky-way has come up near the Walkers/ Joggers garden nearby. I have observed recently under the Swachh Bharat program the Municipal corporation has also made a PublicPay toilet on a BOLT ( Build- Own – Lease- Transfer) basis and a family maintains it and keeps it clean and hygienic. This suburb is Bangalore’s largest upcoming suburb and at last count there are about Half a Million people live here most of whom get water by tankers as civic amenities are still non-existent. 

I was happy to see this initiative of the Pay Toilet which to me is a nice gesture to make a family entrepreneur and self sufficient while keeping the area clean. In Bangalore city the Gardens are well maintained but the Gardeners are not well taken care of. They still live in Tent like huts made of gunny sacks and a whole family of 6-10 people lives in the garden – they still cook on wood. The poor gardener also begs and seeks money from morning walkers which is sad.

I see another beggar near the temple and his geographic area seems to be demarcated to Temple, couple of hotels, bus stand and the unauthorized bike parking space. Bangalore is a different type of city. The Politicians here do not care if the pedestrians have footpath or not and bike riders consider it to park on footpaths available as their birthright. 

I was thinking of a BOLT, Social entrepreneurship and beggary together. As a Edward De Bono Lateral thinking follower, I got thinking. I felt why not convert some of the open land under the skywalk, near the garden and also outside of the footpath as Paid Parking space with a Manned Parking Meter and allow this beggar and gardener cum beggar to allow it to run on BOLT basis. 

What will it entail:

  1. Permission from Municipal corporation to convert the empty land and build a compound, fencing around it. 
  2. Have No Parking boards put up at the designated places in consultation with the Traffic Police.
  3. Get a Parking meter and fix the parking rates for the hour, 4 hours, 6 hours, Overnight parking etc as I have seen people parking for longer durations here.
  4. Issue Bar cards to monthly payment users and equip the two people manning it with Card swipe machines and train them into the usage and help them with a bank account where the bank person comes and collects the cash and charge slips from them and issues a passbook update. 
  5. I think this can help regulate the traffic in this area, help two families to have sustainable income and over a period of time the Municipal corporation can recover its initial investment in fencing, boards, parking meter, printing paper, electricity, no parking boards, swipe machines and training.

I just wish and hope that I am some day able to either get hold of the Corporator to do this or get an influential NGO to influence him, Corporation and also provide them the seed capital to run this and get the right permissions..

I sincerely feel that beggary in the town can be regulated and by right parking habits the traffic menace can also be controlled. We see many Third Gender people crowding or knocking the car windows on the Traffic signals demanding money and people mistreating them and getting into fights. This menace can also be curbed if a sympathetic view is taken towards and the business help provided.


Cash will always remain King! – MSMEs

Ever since I worked in a Nationalised bank way back in Mid 70’s, I developed an affinity towards Micro and Small Entrepreneurs. I worked for a Lead Bank and we had a RBI Scheme called D.R.I. – Differential Rate of Interest which was just 4% p.a. and slowly Group Guarantee scheme was introduced so as to make finance easy for them.

I have liked these Micro Entrepreneurs ever since. Be it a Newspaper wallah, Milkman, Laundry man, Old newspaper buyer, Plumbers, Electricians, House cleaners, Hair cutting Saloons, Cycle and Motor cycle repairers, Car, tractor repairers, Cobbler, Tailor, Vegetable vendor, Tea/ Coffee vendors, Paan ( Betelnut) vendor (who are small General store in themselves), Carpenters etc. etc.

The reason for this was – In Bank, I had three targets – Deposit mobilization in the village branch I worked for ( 3000 population), Agricultural credit, DRI Loans disbursement, Recovery of money and keeping the Documentation flawless. While my branch earned the Best branch Awards for all of these – I was especially happy that none of the small borrowers of the bank EVER defaulted. While the times were tough in the country with Emergency imposed/ Vasectomy forcefully implemented etc. but I realized that these were the most trusted borrowers.

I began my selling experience at 12. I was a roving cycle salesman and my clientele in the small native town were 1800+ Paanwallahs who were ration card holders ( Matchboxes were in short supply and my uncle’s company had ration cards for all of them which I was filling up). I knew them all by name and address and I could remember their faces. When my uncle’ Matchbox company began launching Sweet areca nut (Supari), Mouth fresheners using their distributors and cycle salesman like me. They were my best customers and always paid cash! I knew their buying pattern and was earning good commissions to pay for my schooling, uniforms, shoes, sports etc. Small and big, they were almost a General Store selling several regular home use items. Later, I joined a bank, fertilizer company and became their customer as I liked eating paan and smoking which I did for a number of years.

In Bangalore, I was a customer of one such Paan shop till I stopped smoking nearly 4 years ago. My wife wanted Paan for a Shravan Friday Puja and I met him after all this while. I was shocked to see that he was almost in tears! Almost all shelves in the small kiosk were empty. He had a bucket full of Paan – but no cigarettes, Gutka, Paan Bahar Nothing! He did not have the Paans that I could buy for Puja. Apparently, there was an issue!

For three days, on my walking route, I noticed, the shutters were down in his shop. I met him this evening and asked if he still keeps candies and does he have a Vicks tablet ( yes, they keep this throat clearing OTC medicine too). He had them today. I asked him what is the problem? Why is the shop empty. He is a Brahmin from Varanasi who settled in Bangalore some 15 years ago by running this shop in front of a popular restaurant in a developing suburb.

He said, he owes money to all his suppliers and is overdue in paying. I said, these days these sellers sell on credit so you must have a rolling credit. He said Yes, he has not been able to pay for three months. I said you did not go to your hometown, you are here and haven’t seemed to have splurged – where did all the cash go? He then said he has a whole lot of customers whom he sells on credit – Paan, Beedies, cigarettes, sweetmeat, candies, fresheners, soap, oil, comb etc. etc. ! Most of the big ones who owe him money are not returning the money. It appeared nearly 90% of his business was happening on Credit. Well. This was not so 50 years ago when I was selling to PaanWallahs! They were cash rich. Many of them would display huge Gold chains and Kadas ( Bangles) and Rings and were lending money to nearby traders on the footpath for good interest. Things had indeed changed !

For small traders, Micro businessmen like him there is no differential rate of interest available from banks now. They depend on the mercy of trade credit. The cost of a location like his are expensive and the cost of making and filling the Kiosk is multi-fold. Of course, now they have the small luxury of a very small fan to dry the sweat from their body. CASH lost its place to CREDIT and the Creditors became dominant. Rather than using the trade credit to do his business well our man became benevolent to his customers who are apparently rich and somehow are having fun to see him struggle and suffer! Our poor entrepreneur who is not literate is learning the lessons of business the hard way!

When I see the cases of e-Commerce companies burning CASH and making huge losses – I am reminded of the old saying I learnt from business people early in my life – the saying was “CASH IS THE KING, I would rather sell less on Cash and have lesser profit than sell huge on credit and keep counting the bills and managing the debtors with difficulty”. Another businessman also taught me another good business saying that translates “It is better to repent having sold for less, rather than waiting for the right price and holding on to costly Inventory”.

Yet another businessman said to me that he would prefer to do a business which generates Huge CASH and has no Credit – No debtors. He gave me an example and gave a saying which translates “To sell milk you need to go door to door while for Wine/ Alchohol – people come with cash to your shop”. Paanwallahs business 50 years ago was similar where people came for Taste and paid cash! No more now, it seems. In my city, where eCommerce booms because of its IT Techies and good employment scenario – the only shops which still do not offer discounts are Liquor/ Alchohol/Wine shops. They even name them as M.R.P. Shops or Maximum Retail Price shops! People still pay cash. In Country’s capital, I have stood in Queue to buy a Bottle of Rum years ago.

Choosing the right Cash generating business is still the key to success in business. For a Micro, Small and Medium scale business more so. I am a member of a MSME association which has many auto parts makers, lathe operators as members and the common complaint is that the auto makers do not agree to buy for less than 180 days’ credit which MSME find tough to give. Plus the fact that there is corruption in Purchase departments, unwarranted quality issues and shrinkages which are also lumped on these hapless businessmen. The climate is not said to be one where there is EASE of DOING Business in India – not atleast for the MSMEs. Sad but true !


Doklam: Make India an enemy and you will lose your lifeline, Chinese experts caution Beijing over Doklam

Military experts have cautioned that Beijing’s hardball politics is pushing New Delhi further away and could end up making it an enemy.

Source: Doklam: Make India an enemy and you will lose your lifeline, Chinese experts caution Beijing over Doklam


Courtesy: Ethical Alliance Newsletter

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