Number of student entrepreneurs on the rise

Need to accept and encourage student entrepreneurs stressed

October 21, 2019 12:43 am | Updated 12:43 am IST - COIMBATORE

Robotics, automation, drones, healthcare equipment - these and many more seem to be areas of attraction for student who want to be entrepreneurs in Coimbatore.

In a district that is known for both, entrepreneurship and large number of higher education institutions, students who start businesses in their second or third year of college and go on to become full-fledged entrepreneurs are also on the rise gradually.

Coimbatore chapter head of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Rajnikanth says that the organisation is conducting the regional round for EO Global Student Entrepreneur award here for the last six years and the response is good.

There are instances of the students who continue with their business successfully after their higher education. This year, 25 % of the applicants were aspirational entrepreneurs who are now trained by the EO. The 10 finalists were into sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, and manufacturing. The chapter is launching a programme to mentor young entrepreneurs who are just two or three years into business and want to scale up.

Areas of interest

President of TiE Coimbatore Hemalatha Annamalai says there are many students here who work on ideas in their areas of interest. They are into areas such as IoT, e-mobility, etc. With industry 4.0, the conventional job hierarchy is getting changed and it is throwing open new opportunities. Students are tapping these opportunities with their entrepreneurship. “We want to target students right from their school days and help them become entrepreneurs. Only with entrepreneurship is there job creation,” she says.

Even among women entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge for them is marketing their ideas. Students might face similar problems. There should be a platform to mentor, educate, and network them, she adds.

K. Suresh Kumar, Executive Director of PSG STEP, says that for students in technical institutions, innovations become a priority when they look at entrepreneurship. For arts and commerce students, there are areas such as trade. The PSG STEP recently gave support under the NIDHI Prayas scheme to commercialise a carrot harvesting machine developed by students.

“Real time entrepreneurship among students is still in a nascent stage in Coimbatore. There should be a cultural change where students feel free to get into business, share it with friends and organisations, and get the required encouragement,” he says.

“Student entrepreneurs are a best kept secret even within an institution,” says an entrepreneur here. Only a few students or institutions share the details, take part in contests or seek mentoring support. Most of the student entrepreneurs share details of their business with the faculty and friends only in their final year.

These students become entrepreneurs in their individual capacity and because of their passion. While there are programmes that enable students to develop their ideas into prototypes, there are very few efforts to help those who start and run a business even when they are studying at college.

There have been efforts in Kerala and Gujarat to encourage student entrepreneurs with incentives, says the head of an incubator, who did not want to be identified.

There are many factors that enable a student to become an entrepreneur in his or her college days - support of the family, availability of resources, and time to balance between academics and business.

The entire system should be ready to accept and encourage student entrepreneurs by giving the time and freedom to focus on business.

There are students for whom entrepreneurship is a passion. What is also needed is policy level initiatives that will enable institutions to encourage entrepreneurs. It has started happening and if it is sustained for another three to five years, institutions will see more students taking to business ventures even in their college days, he adds.

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