“I can tell you, without diversity, creativity remains stagnant.”
This famous statement by Edward Enninful, the enigmatic fashion and design director, succinctly encapsulates the crux of how meaningful is the role of diversity in entrepreneurship. We live in a century of fast-moving change. The 21st Century has witnessed great technological strides, which have impacted how business is conducted and has made homogeneity in the workforce obsolete. No longer does a US multinational need to recruit only from its home state, but instead, it can employ a random engineer sitting in Singapore to create its entire line of software products. In addition, diversity helps in understanding different perspectives which can aid in providing satisfaction to consumers.
The success stories of Nykaa, Sugar cosmetics, CRED, Boat, etc., have seen an influential role being played by the founding member’s personality and how the founder is able to connect personally to the larger audience via social media. Entrepreneurship offers the founder an arena to strengthen the sense of belongingness and acceptance among a group of consumers and investors who feel that the current political, cultural, and economic setting caters to them.
Diverse entrepreneurs bring a variety of viewpoints and experiences to the table, which can result in more original and creative ideas. These various viewpoints can aid business owners in finding fresh opportunities, creating distinctive goods and services, and making wiser commercial judgments. They may design companies that are more inviting and inclusive of clients and workers from all backgrounds. This may facilitate the removal of obstacles and the development of a more just society.
With the growing concern about the fulfillment potential of sustainable development goals and the increasing commitments to climate change objectives, a diversified team of an entrepreneurial venture can impact more positive influence by bringing up fresh ideas to tackle ESG issues in their communities. They can act as role models and motivate people from underrepresented communities to start their own businesses. Meesho, the e-commerce venture that started in 2015, has recently shared the inspiring story of Ms. Manisha, a retailer on the platform who has leveraged entrepreneurship to employ 25+ women who belong to abandoned senior citizens and poor income groups.
India is synonymous with diversity. This diversity can be harnessed to create the world’s best pool of entrepreneurs who share the same vision and employ diverse perspectives to reach their goals. From the opportunity for agriculture in Punjab, Haryana & Tamil Nadu, business service opportunities in metro cities, the MSME growth opportunities in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar to the science and space-based opportunities with government agencies, we can see that entrepreneurship is flowering in every sphere of human endeavor.
India’s startup environment exhibits the country’s diversity as well. A wide range of industries, including technology, healthcare, education, and more, are represented among Indian startups. Individuals of all ages, genders, and social backgrounds started them. For instance, Bangalore-born Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, the founder of Biocon Limited, has emerged as a critical player in the biopharmaceutical sector. The founder of BYJU, Byju Raveendran, is a young businessman from Kerala who has established a prosperous edtech business.
The diversity of India also offers never-seen-before challenges for entrepreneurs. For instance, it may be challenging for business owners to interact with clients and staff from different locations due to language barriers. The way business is understood across the nation can vary depending on cultural factors. Nonetheless, Indian businesspeople view diversity as an opportunity rather than a problem. Entrepreneurs can create companies that truly represent the nation by embracing the nation’s wide cultural and regional variety.
To embrace cultural differences, Indian entrepreneurs can use their knowledge of cultural variations to develop goods and services that appeal to various clientele. To accommodate the wide range of consumer tastes, meal delivery businesses in India, like Zomato and Swiggy, provide a wide selection of regional cuisines. Indian entrepreneurs are adept at customizing their goods and services to meet regional demands. E-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon offer different products in various regions of the nation.
To create the synergy of inclusion, Indian entrepreneurs should assemble multicultural teams that accurately represent their entire customer base. This enables them to produce inclusive products and services by better understanding the requirements and preferences of their customers. Communication technology has made it easy to overcome language differences and incorporate diverse clients, partners, and consumers into the business. Social media sites and mobile apps have made it simpler for business owners to communicate with clients nationwide. They also collaborate with regional groups to comprehend their demands and preferences. As a result, they may produce goods and services that these communities will find useful and relevant. Moreover, they take products made by them and sell them to the consumers through cooperative societies like Amul or by providing a marketplace like Authindia.
The government-led initiatives like Start-up India, National SC_ST Hub, and Women’s Entrepreneurship Platform, investor networks like Indian Angel Network and TiE, trade associations like NASSCOM, and entrepreneurship programmes represent the plethora of resources available to support different categories of entrepreneurs in India. Regardless of the geographic and socio-economic composition, all startups in India can improve their chances of success and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse entrepreneurship environment by utilizing these resources.
“Startup India” promotes national innovation and entrepreneurship. The National SC-ST Hub aims to assist businesspeople from the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) communities. In addition, the women’s Entrepreneurship Platform was created to assist Indian female entrepreneurs. These platforms give entrepreneurs access to funding, mentoring, training, networking opportunities, and other tools to help them launch and expand their enterprises.
The Indian Angel Network is a group of angel investors that supports and finances enterprises in their early stages. The network strongly emphasizes assisting diverse entrepreneurs and has launched several programmes to advance entrepreneurial diversity. TiE is a worldwide network of businesspeople with a presence in India that offers a variety of options to entrepreneurs, including networking events, access to capital, and mentorship. NASSCOM is a trade group representing the Indian IT and business process outsourcing industry. The group offers startups in the tech industry assistance and resources, including investment, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
Encouraging diversity in entrepreneurship is not merely the ethical thing to do, but it is also crucial for building a more equal and inclusive ecosystem for entrepreneurship. Diverse entrepreneurs bring distinctive viewpoints, ideas, and innovations to the table; it is crucial to give them the tools and support they require to be successful. India has made strides toward encouraging diversity in entrepreneurship, but much remains to be done. India can continue to foster diversity in entrepreneurship and build a more vibrant and inclusive environment for all entrepreneurs by expanding access to capital, developing mentorship programmes, increasing representation, offering training and education, and establishing supportive networks.Author Prof. Ansita Aggarwal