World over IT is used for a wide variety of applications ranging from simple data processing to complex business and industry information systems, management, e-commerce, instructions and transfer of technology. This can also be utilized efficiently in entrepreneurship development.
Defining entrepreneurship is not an easy task. To some, entrepreneurship means primarily innovation, to others it means risk-taking, to others a market stabilising force and to others still it means starting, owning and managing a small business. Accordingly, the entrepreneur is viewed as a person who either creates new combinations of production factors such as new methods of production, new products, new markets, finds new sources of supply and new organizational forms; or as a person who is willing to take risks; or a person who, by exploiting market opportunities, eliminates disequilibrium between aggregate supply and aggregate demand, or as one who owns and operates a business.
To choose the definition of entrepreneurship most appropriate for the rural area context, it is important to bear in mind the entrepreneurial skills that will be needed to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities and to sustain a healthy economy and environment. Taking this into consideration, each of the traditional definitions has its own weakness.
The first definition leaves little room for innovations that are not on the technological or organizational cutting edge, such as, adaptation of older technologies to a developing-country context, or entering into export markets already tapped by other firms. Defining entrepreneurship as risk- taking neglects other major elements, such as a well-developed ability to recognise unexploited market opportunities.
Entrepreneurship as a stabilising force limits entrepreneurship to reading markets disequilibria, while entrepreneurship defined as owning and operating a business, denies the possibility of entrepreneurial behaviour by non-owners, employees and managers who have no equity stake in the business.
Therefore, the most appropriate definition of entrepreneurship that would fit into the rural development context, argued here, is the broader one, the one which defines entrepreneurship as- “a force that mobilises other resources to meet unmet market demand”, “the ability to create and build something from practically nothing”, “the process of creating value by pulling together a unique package of resources to exploit an opportunity”.
Entrepreneurship so defined, pertains to any new organization of productive factors and not exclusively to innovations that are on the technological or organizational cutting edge. It pertains to entrepreneurial activities both within and outside the organization. Entrepreneurship need not involve anything new from a global or even national perspective, but rather the adoption of new forms of business organizations, new technologies and new enterprises producing goods not previously available at a location.
Entrepreneurship is considered to be a prime mover in development and why nations, regions and communities that actively promote entrepreneurship development, demonstrate much higher growth rates and consequently higher levels of development than nations, regions and communities whose institutions, politics and culture hinder entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurial orientation to rural development, contrary to development based on bringing in human capital and investment from outside, is based on stimulating local entrepreneurial talent and subsequent growth of indigenous companies. This would create jobs and add economic value to a region and community and at the same time keep scarce resources within the community.
To accelerate economic development in rural areas, it is necessary to increase the supply of entrepreneurs, thus building up the critical mass of first generation entrepreneurs who will take risks and engage in the uncertainties of a new venture creation, create something from practically nothing and create values by pulling together a unique package of resources to exploit an opportunity. By their example they will stimulate an autonomous entrepreneurial process, as well as a dynamic entrepreneurship, thereby ensuring continuous rural development.
IT and Entrepreneurship Development in Agriculture:
Agriculture is considered as the principal engine of growth in many low income developing countries where it accounts for 60-80% of all employment. In India too, agriculture is considered as backbone of Indian economy and 85% population is directly and indirectly associated with this sector.
However, efforts for development of agriculture have been made by several institutes and departments by using transfer of technology approach where communication is used as a tool. Extension Directorates of State Agricultural Universities and Government have widely used communication technologies in transfer of technology among farming communities. Technologies like radio, television, print and video have been extensively used, along with interpersonal communication.
Farm Forums and Rural Radio Forums are some examples of radio utilization for agriculture and rural development. Many radio stations broadcast programmes exclusively on agriculture. Some slot of time in TV programming is also allotted for agriculture. But with the information explosion, and the availability of various options, this sector is calling for new approach.
Diversification of agriculture, promotion of agripreneurship, precision farming, hi-tech agriculture, post- harvest management, value addition and proper marketing are getting due recognition in agriculture. To fulfill farmers’ needs in such areas, a strong communication and information support system is the need of the day.
Communication and information technology have great potential in dissemination of information among farming communities. Warna Wired Village project—a collaborative effort of National Informatics Centre, Maharashtra Government and Warna Cooperative Society was launched in selected parts of Maharashtra to serve the information needs of farmers for cultivation practices, pest and disease control, marketing information, information on processing, etc. through use of ICT.
Information Village of Pondicherry Project of MS Swami Nathan Research Foundation is another effort in that direction which utilized a broad array of modern information and communication technologies for development in general and rural development in particular.
The agricultural research institutes and universities can also plan to launch the websites where latest information on agriculture and rural technology can be exchanged. Indian Council of Agriculture Research and its institutes, National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management (MANAGE) and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) through centralized network facilitates the exchange of resources and sharing of knowledge for prompt and effective utilization. Realizing the low coverage of agriculture programmes in mass media, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, has decided to start an agriculture channel for farmers and rural people to promote agriculture and rural development.
IT and Entrepreneurship Development in Livestock Sector:
Considering the stagnant nature of crop agriculture the livestock sector has emerged as income and employment generating enterprise for many a number of rural households. Livestock is providing secondary source of income to millions of farmers in the rural area. Livestock sector still is not attended well by the input service provider.
There is ample scope and opportunity as well as demand for the livestock services in not only in urban areas but also in rural areas of the country. People are willing to pay for the services considering the cash crop like nature of livestock sector. Here lies the opportunity for the person to provide services in the livestock sector with the help of IT. An entrepreneur can establish an internet cafe/kiosk through which he can provide the information related to the livestock sector.
The information is already available with various research organizations in user friendly mode which can be procured and used in the cafe. Dairy Information System Kiosks software developed by the IIM Ahmedabad which connect to a dairy information portal, it is possible to maintain and access a computerised database that includes all details about the cattle owned, milk production, prices, etc.
The marketing information related to the livestock and livestock products can be posted and retrieved online from various portals. There are many success stories regarding the utility of such portals in providing marketing information not only in crop agriculture but also in livestock sector. Many interested farmers lack information on various aspect of livestock enterprise and an entrepreneur can provide sufficient and authentic information offline from the available sources.
The person can act as linkage between the input providers as well as output purchaser from the far off area also. It can provide genuine product from the input provider and can also get good price for the product thus eliminating the margin of middleman and thus will improve the marketing efficiency of the livestock and livestock product marketing.
Various research institutes are coming out with user friendly expert system related to health and nutrition of the livestock sector. This nutrition expert system can be used for the benefit of the farmers as per their inventory of ingredients which will be cost-effective as well as balanced.
The health expert system can act as first aid provider and will be in great demand in the difficult and remote area where even the parapets are not available. These health expert systems work on the basis of symptoms and narrow down to the specific disease and suggest about broad spectrum medicines. The entrepreneur can purchase such system and can provide this service on payment.
The Cyber Cafe/Internet Kiosk as a Business Model:
i. Average no. of PCs – 1.
ii. Average charge/hour – Rs.30.
iii. Average users/day – 30.
iv. Average time online – 15 mins.
v. Potential of Rs.100/day gross.
vi. Startup costs ― 15000 Rs/pc, network equipment, UPS/batteries, cabinets-estimated at Rs.50,000.
vii. Running costs: Electricity/rent/cable/dialup/staff/maintenance.
The establishment cost of such cyber cafe/internet kiosk will come around Rs.50000. Only problem with establishment of such venture is facility of electricity in the remote/rural area. In such case, the entrepreneur will have to go for 1KV power generator which will increase the start-up cost.
Considering the meagre employment opportunity for the educated youth particularly the rural youth, the establishment of such venture will not only provide the income but also productive employment and will help in reducing the out migration of the rural youth. The financial institution can provide loan and some subsidy component can also be introduced to popularise it.
India is still looking for reduction of poverty, unemployment and equality of distribution and opportunities. Growing number of people will no doubt give us increased human hand but might lead to serious food problem and social and political unrest if adequate and appropriate planning is not done towards engaging the increased manpower properly. One of the ways to link the ever-growing working hand especially in rural areas is to provide them with the opportunity to work.
This opportunity can be provided through well thought-out rural development program where capacity building has to be in the forefront or the concept of entrepreneurship has to be brought into the picture. The entrepreneurial orientation to rural development accepts entrepreneurship as the central force of economic growth and development.
There is ample scope to introduce the entrepreneurship in livestock sector through the information technology. Several success stories are there where the IT has played a crucial role in revolutionizing the development programme. Livestock is providing secondary source of income to millions of farmers in the rural area. Livestock sector still is not attended well by the input service provider.
There is ample scope and opportunity, as well as demand for the livestock services in rural areas of the country. The establishment of cyber cafe/internet kiosk providing the information related to livestock sector will provide the entrepreneurship opportunity to the unemployed rural youth at a very low cost.