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Now courses for entrepreneurs

August 27, 2004 09:49 IST
Five leading academic institutions -- the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology, Bangalore and Mumbai's S P Jain Institute of Management and Research -- are joining hands with a private financier to offer courses designed to nurture entrepreneurial talent.

The National Entrepreneurship Network, as it's called, is being funded by the US-based Wadhwani Foundation, promoted by Romesh Wadhwani, a Indian entrepreneur and an IIT, Mumbai, alumnus who dreams of giving "something back to India."

The goal of the foundation is to help launch 250 new entrepreneurs every year for the next 10 years. These entrepreneurs, in turn, will help create 500,000-plus jobs over the next decade.

Laura Parkin, executive director of the foundation, said the foundation has committed an initial $5.5 million to this initiative. Each of the five institutes has been given a grant of $40,000, and each has to draw up a detailed business plan on how to go about this.

"Each of the institutes is bringing it its own expertise to this network," said Parkins. Incidentally a total of 190 institutes had applied for being part of this initiative, out of which only

five were selected.

"Once this initiative is successful and running,we propose to have such intiatives in other emerging markets," she said.

The S P Jain Institute of Management and Research has set up a Centre for Entrepreneurship Development and offers the Family Managed Business programme, which is geared towards the next generation of family members of business houses throughout the country.

The course content is being left to the individual institutes. Says Manesh L Shrikant, the dean of the S P Jain Institute, "We prefer the course content to be flexible and dynamic so that we can make innovations as we move on."

While the Wadhwani Foundation is providing the seed funding for the initiative, it will also offer to assist students passing out of the programmes in finding funds for their ventures. Parkins admitted that evaluating and monitoring the success of the programmes would be a daunting task.

Other prominent institutes are also being persuaded to join the effort, while corporate houses are being roped in to provide internship programmes for such students.

In order to create awareness of all this, the foundation is organising various events, the first one started on August 25. In January 2005, it proposes to hold a trade fair, which will be a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs.

Janaki Krishnan in Mumbai
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