Dr Somdutta Singh, Serial Entrepreneur | MD, Assiduus Global | Investor | Bestselling Author | Advisor – Govt of India.
Speaker and author Robert H. Schuller has said, “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” Eleven months into Covid-19, our world stands dynamically altered with our very survival on the edge. The foe may be unseen, but humanity’s tenacity to endure, to sustain, to survive has started a revolution. Today, even as the world struggles with managing the spread of the novel coronavirus while restoring healthy economic activity and nations crumble under the burden of this unseen force of nature, we will not give up.
We are witnessing inclusiveness like never seen before; the whole world, each stakeholder, is joining forces and forging alliances to make the most of the situation and simply not yield, not dwindle and not relinquish. Although the paths leading to the pandemic and reviving the economy are rife with uncertainty, we are confronting this uncertainty with utmost certainty.
There is only one way: the way forward. 2020 is still not over. There still remains a lot of history that needs to be made.
A Matter Of Survival
When the pandemic hit, in my efforts to ensure I, my company and the employees were on the right path to fight this epidemic, there were three things at the back of my mind: self-sustainability, supporting rural entrepreneurs and helping communities in need during such dire situations. Here’s why I believe these three elements of society and the economy function in tandem and why their upliftment counts.
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1. Self-Sustainability: Optimizing Resources Amid A Global Pandemic
I was reading an article online and came across the word “deglobalization.” Over the past few years, businesses have been coming to terms with the fact that the utopian notion of globalization might not be conceivable for every industry genre. For example, in e-commerce, large conglomerates have been speculating if costs can be truly optimized by way of global supply chains or if it would seem more sensible, more lucrative, faster and more secure if production is simply closer to the end consumer.
This is where the overarching concept of self-sustainability comes into the picture and, within this Industry 5.0 and its hyper-personalization and hyper-localization, hypothesis comes into force. When we talk of a very local, communal way of living, it outlines self-sustainability among small businesses such as local food production and being energy efficient. In short, self-sufficient local small businesses are needed to make larger cities buoyant, which will add to the economy that is currently seeing a slump brought about by the pandemic.
2. Rural Entrepreneurs: Balancing The Development Of Urban And Rural
The pandemic has drastically touched all aspects of life across the globe. Not only is it threatening mankind’s very existence, but it’s also presenting critical challenges to nations, economies and our socio-economic structures. When it comes down to rural regions, farmers, cottage industries and rural entrepreneurs are predominantly shaken.
I believe there is an urgent need to elevate rural entrepreneurs, especially women-led businesses amid the pandemic. Constructive collaborations will encourage progress in rural enterprises, add value to communities, create rural jobs and cultivate sustainable associations among small manufacturers and established buyers mostly in cities. Such associations will also not only meet mounting requirements but also boost exports from villages to cities to overseas.
3. Communities: Giving Back To Where You Come From
While the pandemic has been taking a toll on lives globally, in India, one of the many images that haunts us is the visual of migrant workforces rushing home on foot, treading thousands of miles on cycle, hidden in trucks and frantically crowding public transport platforms should they take them home. This has parched urban India.
My question remains: While they do make our lives easier, is there any way we can avoid forcing them to stay away from their homes in order to earn a living? I believe there is an answer.
There is an urgent need to bring about sector-by-sector changes and foster collaborations among industries/platforms that are diverse in nature that will generate refined conditions for social entrepreneurship. For example: If returning migrant laborers who are technically adept and digitally sound can join forces with women — major contributors in rural livelihoods globally — we can reap the benefits of the demographic dividend. This can lead to job generation, revenue production and finally boot up the rural economy.
Yes, today the fact remains: Uncertainty is a new reality, but only the inventiveness of collective forces together can bring about change in rural economies and finally fast-track the renaissance of the global economy.