Monday, Dec 22, 2003
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By R. Sujatha
Of 153 teams from 65 institutions participating in the preliminary round, 25 were chosen for the semi-finals, where contestants would present case studies of Indian entrepreneurs who have been successful in their endeavours.
At the inaugural session, the speakers peppered their talk with home-grown entrepreneurs' success stories, which tested their mettle and their financial strength.
Fathima Jacob, Director-in-charge of the centre, said the innovative plan concentrated on three major areas: education and research, development and alliance of the centre with other departments and community development.
The aim was to educate students, improve the knowledge base of teachers and concentrate on product development.
Ms. Jacob said the contest was a result of a survey, which revealed that the students lacked confidence and needed information about entrepreneurship.
M. Anandakrishnan, Chairperson, Madras Institute of Development Studies, exhorted the students to remain excited and involved in their research and maintain interest, which would enable them to operationalise their business plans. He asked the students to translate their enthusiasm into viable business plans keeping in mind the need for teamwork.
Every year, four lakh students graduated with B.E. and B.Tech. degrees, but only 20 per cent found ready employment, while almost 70 per cent were underemployed. Only 10 per cent of the workforce was in the organised sector. Students could become job creators by bringing employees in the unorganised sector into the mainstream.
Dr. Anandakrishnan asked the students to concentrate on informal and unorganised sectors such as soap making and the dosa-idli batter ready mix industry, which were now becoming a formal sector.
The students could also analyse informal enterprises in the healthcare and personal care sectors. He asked the students to finalise their plans and give products in the informal sector a respectable brand equity status.
M.S. Kumar, president, Madras Management Association, asked the students to do candid soul-searching before they chose between becoming an entrepreneur or holding a comfortably happy job.
He recalled the success stories of Indian entrepreneurs, who took up the challenges and risked everything for an idea they passionately believed in. Citing the success of Tata's Indica, he said despite financial struggles, the venture became a success.
The Anna University Vice-Chancellor, E. Balagurusamy, urged the students to persevere with courage and confidence. He said the university sent out one lakh engineers every year and there were not enough government jobs for everyone. "We do not lack in resources, including manpower. We need to believe in ourselves," he said, citing the success stories of enterprises such as Infosys, HCL and Nirma.
Some of the business plans that would be presented include the success stories of Kevin Care and Medimix.
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