Video | Mass Entrepreneurship with Ravi Venkatesan

In this session recorded on June 9, 2022, as part of the lecture series Amplifying the Influence of Small Businesses, McConnell Visiting Scholar Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli was joined in conversation by Ravi Venkatesan, the founder of the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME). In the final installment of this event series, Ravi explores the challenges and opportunities facing Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs), mass entrepreneurship, and strategies for enabling conditions.

Highlights and key takeaways from the event include:

  • “How do we convert more of our job seekers into more job creators?"
  • "The problem with mass entrepreneurship is that these startups don’t create many jobs – lots of gig workers, but not permanent positions. So how do we extend this across the country and have less concentration? How do we get every kind of person creating every level of business?"
  • "There is an abundance of opportunities, what we lack are the ecosystem and the mindset to go after it."
  • "GAME’s mission is to create the enabling conditions for broader entrepreneurship and create millions of decent jobs by 2030. After beginning in 2019, GAME noticed the phenomenon called “India’s missing middle”: of 63 million firms, 95% employ fewer than 5 people, 98% employ fewer than 10. Jobs and prosperity are the result of growth of MICRO enterprises, not large – micro to small, small to midsize. We need to focus on that growth in India. What will it take to create the enabling conditions for growth to happen, to fix that “broken escalator”? You need favorable local ecosystems, human capital with skills and an entrepreneurial mindset, and the infrastructure like energy access, good roads, links to capital, etc. Finally, you need role models, ease of doing business, competition, and incentives."
  • "There are several problems to fix: making mass entrepreneurship aspirational, beginning in school; access to finance, ease of doing business, growth, and making sure enough women are entrepreneurs."
  • "We want every young person in every school to be exposed to the entrepreneurial mindset by 2030."
  • "Making business easier is everyone’s business. Four step approach: simplify the processes and compliance landscape, digitize the processes through private partnerships, decriminalize non-compliance, and evaluate."
  • "The urgency of mass entrepreneurship needs a mission mode of concerted action. The National Entrepreneurship Mission (NEM) brings together the public sector, private, government, and academia on one mission: 100 million new jobs by 2030. We're not inventing anything new, but taking what is there and making it more effective."
  • "Ignite through vocational training and educational programs, improve the ecosystem, integrate existing infrastructure, incentivize innovation through targeted interventions."

Speakers:

Ravi Venkatesan

Ravi Venkatesan is a Business Leader, Author, and Social Entrepreneur in Bengaluru, India.

Ravi is UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People and Innovation and also the founder of the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), a multi-stakeholder coalition which aims to create 10m entrepreneurs and 50 million jobs in India by 2030. He is a Director of Hitachi Ltd., a Trustee of Rockefeller Foundation and a partner at impact investor Unitus Ventures.

Ravi has spent three decades leading organizations in the private sector, public sector and social sector, across three continents and multiple industries. He is a former Chairman of the Bank of Baroda; between 2015-18, he led the turnaround of India's second largest public sector bank. As a board member then Co-Chairman of Infosys Ltd., he helped steer the company through a challenging set of transitions. Between 2004-11, as Chairman & CEO of Microsoft India, Ravi helped build India into Microsoft's second-largest presence in the world and the most respected multinational company in India. From 1997-2004, Ravi served as the Chairman of Cummins India and led its transformation into India’s leading provider of engines and power generation solutions. Ravi has served on the boards of Harvard Business School, AB Volvo, Strand Lifesciences, JCB, ATREE and Thermax.

Ravi is the founder of Social Venture Partners India, a pan-India network of philanthropists. He was instrumental in creating Microsoft India’s Project Shiksha, the world’s largest computer literacy program and also helped establish the Cummins College of Engineering, India’s first engineering college for women, in Pune.

Ravi has a BTech from IIT Bombay, an MS from Purdue University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar. He is a recipient of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s Distinguished Alumnus Award and Purdue University's Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award. He is the author of an acclaimed book "Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere" published by Harvard Business Review. His next book "What the Heck Do with My Life?" will be released in Dec 2021. Ravi was voted as one of India's best management thinkers by Thinkers50 and is one of LinkedIn's Global Influencers. He was voted Microsoft's AlumniHERO 2020.

Moderator:

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Mrs. Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is an expert on social innovation, African agriculture and nutrition, entrepreneurship, and youth development. She has over 25 years of international development experience and is a recognized serial entrepreneur, author, public speaker, and consultant. She is the Max Bell School of Public Policy's McConnell Visiting Scholar for 2021-2022.

Mrs. Nwuneli started her career as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, working in Chicago, New York, and Johannesburg. She returned to Nigeria in 2000 to serve as the pioneer executive director of FATE Foundation, supporting young entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses. In 2002, she established LEAP Africa to inspire, empower, and equip a new cadre of principled, disciplined, and dynamic young leaders in Africa. In the same year, she established NIA to support female university students in Nigeria to achieve their highest potential.

Over the past 13 years, she has focused exclusively on transforming the African agriculture and nutrition landscape. Through her work as the co-founder and Managing Partner of Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition, she has partnered with a range of private and public sector organizations to implement ecosystem solutions in the African agriculture and food landscapes. As the co-founder of AACE Foods, which produces a range of packaged spices, seasonings, and cereals for local and international markets, Mrs. Nwuneli has propelled the growth of a catalytic business. As the founder of Nourishing Africa, a digital home for food and agriculture entrepreneurs operating on the African Continent, she is accelerating the growth of the ecosystem and supporting entrepreneurs in 35 African countries. Her latest start-up—Changing Narratives Africa—is building bridges by showcasing the Continent’s contributions to the global food ecosystem and scaling proudly African food and beverage brands.

Nwuneli serves on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), AGRA, Nigerian Breweries Plc. (Heineken), Godrej Consumer Products Ltd. India, Fairfax Africa Holdings Canada, Royal DSM Sustainability Board, Netherlands, and the African Philanthropy Forum. She previously served on the Boards of Nestle Nigeria Plc., the World Vegetable Center and Cornerstone Insurance Plc.

Nwuneli was recognized as a Young Global Leader and a Schwab Social Innovator by the World Economic Forum and received a National Honor from the Nigerian Government. She was listed as one of the 20 Power African Women by Forbes, on the 2019 100 Most Influential Africans List by New African Magazine and was a Harvard Business School 2021 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Honoree. She is a TED Global speaker.

Nwuneli is the author of "Social Innovation in Africa: A Practical Guide for Scaling Impact," and "Food Entrepreneurs in Africa: Scaling Resilient Agriculture Businesses," both published by Routledge. She is also the author of “Working for God in the Marketplace.”

She holds an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree with honors from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She was a Senior Fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government at the Harvard Kennedy School and an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.

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