The first day of my last vacation back at home had me walking the hallowed streets of MG Marg. There as I stood, taking in all the familiar sights, I sensed a certain change in aura. Gone were most lazily strewn bodies dragging their feet over the grey tiled stretch. What I noticed were numerous people briskly walking around in formal clothing, laden with bags bursting of files which in turn were bursting of printed papers, smartly clicking their heels to someplace important. This lot I was informed were our future entrepreneurs.
All around I hear one or the other story of a start up or themed café popping up in a corner of town. There is always an acquaintance or a third cousin’s best friend’s sister who is taking a detour from the regimented 9 to 5 job situation and embracing this idea of self employment.
Now, business is not new to Gangtok. There still are relevant old business families flourishing in this field of play, whose lineage can be traced back to the days of monarchy. But no person can deny sensing this urgency with which the young have decided to deal with business. Especially the first generation entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is of course risky business. Most ventures require great investments and strong sponsorships. At the most initial stage, an entrepreneur has to sell their idea to skeptical and critical prospective investors. Also when starting young, people tend to not take your ideas seriously, fathoming it to be only a passing phase. If you do not come from an extremely stable financial background, fund raising is a difficult task, especially here in Sikkim where people are happy with their comfortable lives and less likely to invest in new ideas. In this regard, our entrepreneurs have been given a boost by convenient government plans that encourage start ups with incentive packages and funds.
One of the most obvious questions that come to mind is whether it is simply the prospect of money that drives the force. I am told that it is not so. Certainly, it does play a major part. Who would not want to have enough money and a little more to spare? But a better framed explanation of the real intention is the want to be financially independent, socially relevant while pursuing something they have a passion for on their own terms. A line that can be often heard from these risk takers is that they like the concept of being a job provider rather than a job seeker. Today, people are more self aware. They are willing to break this dogma of success being attained on the basis of work dictated to us by either the government or private sector big shot companies.
Other than these willingly embraced factors, there is the situation of lesser job opportunities in the state. For an exam to fill twenty seats of a government post, sometimes almost a thousand applicants compete. Students, who have attained higher education and worldly experience from metropolitan cities, come back and are frustrated with the lack in availability of jobs that best serve them.
New ideas, concepts have filled the state. There are intellectual meets held now and then to discuss art, culture, identity over coffee. Sikkim, still as a land of unexplored opportunities has great potential for entrepreneurship if pursued right.
The Dirty Boy burger at Selvis Bistro, intricately crocheted handmade dolls from Fidgety Fingers, beautifully crafted unicorn birthday cakes from Baking Magic café, aesthetically soothing lampshades from Zeyma, cute carefully moulded piggy banks from Studio Maato, car services by NE Taxi, tasty pickles packeted by Makhim Delicacies, readily home delivered prawn momo from Shuffle momos, premium made ice creams from Sass and Guff, healthy energy smoothies at Kelly’s, Soju at Mu Kimchi, huge promotional hoardings put up by Priority Promotion, are only a few mentions of noteworthy business ventures that have brought about a wave of change in our daily lives which is now slowly but steadily being welcomed by the consumers in Sikkim. These products have sprouted from the seed of an idea which was new.
These budding businesses are the fruit of creative, ambitious minds that took risks and came up with the courage to pursue a different, innovative path.
Here’s wishing all the very best to our budding entrepreneurs with being their own bosses.