Rural entrepreneurship envisions the development of enterprises that leads to innovation and invention in the rural sector. It primarily targets rural industrialization and aids countries in achieving advancement in all spheres.

While our country is an agro based economy, many other industries in the rural sector can develop with the right support and acknowledgment. With the advent of non-farming livelihood opportunities, economic growth, social development, and environmental sustainability will ultimately flourish. Another indispensable thing is to determine the entrepreneurs at the grassroots level.

When I was introduced to a weaver named Prem from the village of Aaspura, I immediately identified the qualities of an entrepreneur that resonated with her. Her communication skill was distinguishable. There was determination in her eyes to excel in her work and do something that will inspire others. I asked her to join the training to become a ‘bunker sakhi’ aka ‘weaver’s friend.’ The concept of ‘bunker sakhi’ in our organization helps us to identify women with entrepreneurial qualities. 

Why Rural Entrepreneurship?

Rural entrepreneurship is the need of the hour in India. The rise in unemployment is one of the most highlighted problems of our nation. With rising unemployment, people migrate to cities in search of job opportunities, better life, and other infrastructural facilities that are missing in rural areas. Rural entrepreneurship can help positively tackle this problem by bringing in more job opportunities for people. It stimulates the dissemination of economic activities and employment, fostering economic development while reducing the disparities amidst income. By acknowledging the untapped potential in the rural areas, the urban-rural divide can be minimized. Besides the economic impact, rural entrepreneurship will also act as a catalyst for social and cultural challenges. It cultivates gender equality by creating an inclusive economic sphere that promotes financial independence and career opportunities. Lastly, it conserves and promotes art, culture, and rural heritage.

Challenges for Rural Entrepreneurship

The lack of awareness and knowledge regarding the significance of developing industries in rural areas is the major challenge when it comes to entrepreneurship development; that combined with poor infrastructure facilities is a setback for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship is critical to long-term development and supporting both economic and social gains, thereby contributing to the creation of a more inclusive society. The political will has been demonstrated at the highest levels, but it will take a sustained effort to build systems that can ensure long-term support for rural entrepreneurship.

As a society, we should collectively encourage the growth of rural entrepreneurs. A little support and recognition can lead to a path of prosperity.

After Prem Devi became a bunker sakhi, there was no stopping her from reaching the heights of great success and inspiration. She honed her communication skills and leadership qualities by uplifting hundreds of grassroots women to find their calling. Today, she has spoken at multiple international conferences as a public speaker and continues to be a humble bunker sakhi for the weavers. 

The rural entrepreneurship is a key aspect of any developing country, especially in a country like India, where opportunities are immense, and the talent pool is full of aspirations. Rural entrepreneurship is necessary for the transition from a developing to a developed country. It is time to work more extensively on the planning, organizing, deployment, and execution of strategies and measures for the betterment of rural entrepreneurship.

About the Author

Nand Kishore Chaudhary, a globally acclaimed social entrepreneur, is the founder of Jaipur Rugs. His philosophy of totality, inclusion and for-profit solutions to society are widely discussed.

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