The Role of Entrepreneurs in Mangalore’s Growth

(Author is an alumni of NITK,Surathkal and is presently pursuing Management studies at IIM, Bangalore. He was previously employed with Microsoft and Intel, and currently he owns a ALOHA-Abacus franchise at Kulshekar, Mangalore. All views expressed here are his personal. He can be reached at  )

Mangalore is growing fast if we go by the number of malls and commercial complexes that are coming up in the city. The city is catching up with other tier-II cities of India from the development front. But is the speed of development in line with India?s growth story? India?s overall economy has been growing more than 8% consistently for the last three years and everyone is optimistic about its future growth. If we take a closer look at this growth, especially looking from the perspective of cities, Bangalore and other metros have contributed highest to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). I would say the ratio of contribution to GDP by tier-I cities (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune) to the contribution by Non-Metro cities might be in the range of 70:30.  So is India?s growth story just reflecting the regional growth of tier-I cities only?  Well, it may not be completely true. Tier-II cities such as Chandigarh, Indore, Jaipur, Mysore are also growing at a much faster pace, thanks to BPO, KPO companies and other IT Enabled Service companies for start up operations.

In the recent employment survey of different cities, Bangalore leads the list in terms of jobs and has got the new name, "The city of opportunities".  Bangalore has also seen the highest growth in population over the past 6-7 years and one can clearly see the direct relationship between the employment creation and the growth. Until last decade, Mumbai was leading the way in terms of number of job opportunities but suddenly the growth in IT industry has changed the scenario and the IT-friendly cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Noida have seen tremendous growth over the last 6-8 years.  According to Nasscom report, IT has employed 1.3 million people in India and the interesting fact is that it has created indirect jobs in many folds. As these 1.3m high earners spend their money in the restaurants, on clothes, on weddings etc. others get employed thus indirectly creating huge market space/opportunities. This influx of IT professionals and the rise in IT jobs has made Bangalore the fastest growing market and the fourth largest in India.  Bangalore’s per capita income is now the highest for any Indian city.

Coming back to Mangalore and its speed of growth, I would say it is still a very distant competitor for other tier-II cities. Mangalore is a pretty good city from the quality of educational institutes perspective but not in retaining the talent coming out of those institutes. Definitely there are not enough opportunities for this talent and rightly so the best talent migrates to other cities of ample opportunities. The growth comes from the opportunities available within and opportunities get created when entrepreneurs see the growth story.  It’s a chicken and egg problem. Over the last couple of years I have seen a good growth in real estate market but is that a real growth or is it a speculative growth?  I would have believed it as a real growth provided if it grew along with the job market and people’s income level. For me it looks more like a speculative growth with the money supply coming from external sources. The question we need to ask is, how can we contribute to the real growth?  The first thing that comes to my mind is the creation of jobs, as I see there is a direct relationship between employment growth and the real growth of the city.

Bangalore can be a role model for any city in terms of "entrepreneurial" activities which indirectly creates jobs.  I would say entrepreneurs play a major role in the real growth of any city and one thing that Mangalore badly needs is more and more entrepreneurs venturing into Mangalore. The growth in the number of large businesses in Mangalore has been pretty slow compared to other tier-II cities. Well, looking at the other way, does our environment support new entrepreneurs? Is there enough encouragement for youth to take up entrepreneurial paths? One of the fundamental requirements of an entrepreneur is the ability to take risks and I don?t see much of that in Mangaloreans. 

External support also plays a major role in developing entrepreneurial activities and this may be from organizations or institutes. There may be many talented youth with risk taking abilities but in need of seed-funding. Angel-investors are the ones who usually support budding-entrepreneurs. Mangalore is economically very sound compared to other cities of Karnataka and I feel there is no dearth of money coming into the city, it?s just a matter of putting into the right basket of "angel-investment" or the so called "private-equity".

The flat world of today through internet supports many businesses irrespective of the location and one can clearly leverage this benefit. So if we do a good job of supporting budding entrepreneurs, we would not only be growing the "economy" of Mangalore but also in turn will be contributing to India?s GDP and GNP.

Author: Pramod DSouza- Bangalore