Premji: One Should Make Success Out of a Challenge

Date:   Friday , January 02, 2009

In the last one and half decades, India has rowed a long distance through a sea of turbulence to become one of the most favorable destinations of entrepreneurs across the world. Come what may, the spirit of Indian entrepreneurs was known to be holistic and unrelenting. This was proved right when over 2,000 big and small entrepreneurs marched off to Grand Ashoka, even in the backdrop of a slowing down economy, to share their ideas and thoughts on entrepreneurship at TiE Entrepreneurial Summit 2008.

"When a challenge is thrown at you, you should take it in such a way that it builds your spirit and you make a success of it. It is not the success or money that drives entrepreneurs. They direct themselves to an idea, which steers and leads them to success," said Azim Premji in his keynote address. According to Premji, opportunities do not wait. They are here today, but gone tomorrow. He urged the entrepreneurs to learn with modesty from those who are wiser than them.

Following Premji, Pradeep Kar, President, TiE Bangalore said, "India moved in 1991from the Nehruvian philosophy of the state being an entrepreneur to the idea of private entrepreneurship, resulting in accelerated industrial growth. Today, entrepreneurs are at the forefront of building a new India: An India that is prosperous, healthy, secure, peaceful, and continues on a sustainable growth path."

Several innovative business thoughts sprouted up in the sessions attended by leading brains in the industry. Addressing the 'Guru Talk' session, Kanwal Rekhi, Managing Director, Inventus Capital Partners indicated that India should make use of the crisis period in a positive way by making more business opportunities as cost of building a company has come down today. He added that the entrepreneur should be able to convince the venture capitalist that his or her company is doing things differently and can positively come up with innovative outputs.

A panel discussion on the second day of the event on microfinance kindled the hopes of the entrepreneurs who were reeling under the scarcity of adequate funds due to the trying economic situation. However a lot of much discussed concerns, including the high interest rate charged by Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), were brushed aside in the discussion. According to one of the panelists Al Fernandez, Executive Director at an NGO called Myrada, "Microfinance cannot exclusively be linked to poverty. It should be linked to growth."

Even as people like the Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus argue that microfinance institutions that charge more than 15 percent above their long-term operating costs should face penalties, it was a little paradoxical to witness the discussion taking shape in a way that suggested that only those who can afford may benefit from MFIs.

The final day had in store a lot for entrepreneurs to learn about. 'Diversification is critical to the success of an organization,' was the unanimous verdict delivered at a panel discussion titled 'From Adversity to Advantage: Opportunities for Growth and Investment'. The composition of the panel seemed to underline the fact that if one company could neatly diversify its multi-pronged businesses, its going ahead will be smooth and hassle free. However, a reservation about this statement was registered when a member of the audience said that startups usually do not have as much businesses as required to diversify. The panel consisted of business heads including Atul Punj, Chairman, Punj Lloyd, Hari S Bhartia, Co-Chairman and MD, Jubilant Organosys, Mihir Doshi, CEO, Credit Suisse, and the discussion chair, Sonjoy Chatterjee, Executive Director, ICICI Bank.

Counted as Asia's largest entrepreneur summit, the three day mega event witnessed over 40 sessions addressed by 135 prominent speakers on various topics including 13 stellar plenary sessions, 22 high-powered panel discussions, and 8 supremely inspiring 'My Story' sessions.