RE-Imagine India !
I still remember walking with my mother to our neighborhood State Bank of Bikaner & Jaipur, Ajmer branch where she had a Savings Bank account. The year was perhaps 1982 and I was in class 9 and wanted to open a Current Account for my "StartUp" M/s S.G. Enterprises. In perhaps an hour I had a current account and a thick cheque book for SG Enterprises. There was no name registration done, no MSME registration or anything - just a rubber stamp of Proprietor and a simple printed letterhead was all that was required for a commercial enterprise to be born. I employed our newspaper vendor and 2 of his references and my factory started in our neighbour's garage in Ajmer. Our dining table became the work table, machinery comprised of a hand drill and the product line was pre-assembled electronic kits - copycat version of a 1967 model of Heathkit Inc., Michigan, USA. Over a period of 1 year we sold 1000 kits to schools in Jaipur, Kota, Chittorgarh, Delhi and even to the far away De Nobili School, Mugma, Dhanbad. My entrepreneurial ambitions raged but completing school and graduation were deemed more important and life moved on. I remember my visits to the District Industries Commisioner's office and filling the forms for financial assistance and returning disappointed as they couldn't extend any finance to me as I had no “plant & machinery” to buy or any land to purchase...my requirement was small, merely for working capital which they couldn’t make out was worthwhile and so ended my entrepreneurial dreams.
As I find myself in the same entrepreneurial mode, I realize that perhaps little has changed for entrepreneurs even now. You may have the best of sellable product but for scaling up the working capital will only be advanced if you have positive balance sheets to show or a collateral to offer. Fortunately necessity is the mother of invention so the brightest ideas occur to those with the smallest means but ideas after all are ideas and rarely mean anything to an accountant or a banker !
While I would like to still be counted young, this little story of mine is 38 years old and certainly much has changed in the country - the society, the economy, the banking and the law everything has changed...but there is a nagging question - has it changed for the better ? Can I now expect to set up my factory in 2 days and have access to capital for ramping up ? Do the bankers now care about a "viable idea" and value the entrepreneurial zeal ? Well…I know the answer is a combination of Yes and No.
Under the aegis of “RE-Imagine India” we get some of the leading subject matter experts of the country together for a discussion in an attempt to dig deep and develop solutions which have the potential of breaking free from the force of continuity and render a re-imagined edifice for our country – our gift of love for the coming generations and solidarity for ours.