Sam-Udyam: Equity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship
a nation, we have not achieved as much as might have been possible over
the last two to three decades, in terms of making the Indian economy
more inclusive, equitable, and resilient. While we appreciate the great
work often done heroically in the past by several organisations and
individuals, the good intent and the vast amount of resources committed
by public, private, and philanthropic agencies have made little headway
in ‘moving the needle’ on critical indicators of economic empowerment.
With over 12 million youth entering the workforce every year1 and almost
80% of employment still located in agriculture and the unorganised sector,2 the need for millions of new non-farm enterprises, particularly
those in emerging sectors of the economy, cannot be highlighted enough.
COVID-19 has uncovered the need to redefine livelihood security,
restructure the way we organise work, and re-create an economic order
that is equitable as well as much more resilient against the possible
catastrophes of the future.
Entrepreneurship – the act of engaging in purposeful, productive, and
profitable activity – has gained currency as a means for building a new,
better India. Sadly, it remains confined in the hands of a few; and in
some ways, is exacerbating the poverty gap and excluding the many. In a
country that remains inherently entrepreneurial and where grassroots
entrepreneurship has been widely acknowledged as a beacon of hope, very
little has been done to tap entrepreneurial ambitions of millions.
From a factory worker to
now running an LED bulb manufacturing enterprise, Shiv Kumar, 28, has
empowered 20 other women from Hasanpur, Uttarakhand to set up their own
LED bulb enterprises. He aspires to enable many more women and youth of
his village to become entrepreneurs.
Often seen as the most efficient way of fulfilling social and
environmental goals in a business-like manner, social enterprise has had
impact on a limited scale. Moreover, the people who set up social
enterprises as well as those who invest in them and incubate these
businesses almost always end up prioritising growth of the enterprise
itself as a means of generating impact. It is in this regard that social
enterprise is very different from inclusive entrepreneurship.
The concept of inclusive entrepreneurship, or ‘Sam-Udyam’, stems from
the belief that an ecosystem of actors can induce change that is
systemic in nature – not just addressing the problems of livelihood
insecurity and widespread joblessness that India is faced with, but
dealing with issues that caused them in the first place – to build new
micro-economies where progress is based on equitable growth and social
We believe that a movement towards inclusive entrepreneurship will,
simply put, bring more people into the ambit of entrepreneurship and
create jobs on a scale that cannot be matched by small, medium, and large
businesses alone. Our country must prioritise the upward socio-economic
mobility of over 80 million individuals stuck in low-paying informal
jobs with uncertain tenure or subsistence-level income-generating
activities that are the only means of making ends meet for many,
Thus, we imagine inclusive entrepreneurship to be a phenomenon that is
characterised by a systemic change in which millions of ‘job seekers’
become ‘job makers’ within their communities, thereby leading to
enhanced social inclusion and sustainable economic growth.
The task at hand cannot be led by one individual or one organisation,
but a constellation of actors who recognise how grassroots entrepreneurs
remain invisible in policymaking, who are concerned about the limited
effectiveness of the public and private sector models for growth, and
who hope to overcome the inability of social purpose organisations to
take their innovative solutions to scale.
We invite you to invest in the potential of Sam-Udyam to transform the
lives of over half a billion people in India, particularly those who
work at the periphery of a soon-to-be USD 5 trillion economy.3
Survey 2018: see news reports, for example: https://www.livemint.com/Politics/jtUrXJSVD9V7U6oroWU6aK/Economic-Survey-2018-Jobs-set-to-be-a-pressing-challenge-in.html
Labour Organization: ‘Informal Economy in South Asia’:
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