BFP: What do you do?
SSD: I am an independent small business consultant based in Bhubaneswar, India. I have been working as a teacher, trainer, consultant and researcher in various parts of the world. Currently I am busy doing research work on the indigenous people of the Indian state of Odisha.
Recently I co-authored a book entitled ‘Indigenous people and Entrepreneurship in Kandhamal’. The book is about optimizing Common Property Resources for the benefit of the indigenous tribes of Kandhamal for entrepreneurial growth. In India around 19% of the land comes under Common Property and to bring about inclusive growth, the only way out is to put this land to optimum use and legalize its use to benefit to the rural and indigenous people. The idea is to use this land for cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants for the benefit of the indigenous people.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
SSD: In all my roles, what I have always enjoyed most is motivating and training the youth to take up entrepreneurship as career a option through systematic entrepreneurship development programmes. Ultimately it is good to see the youth succeed in their business endeavors and contribute to the development of the nation.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
SSD: My greatest challenge has been to design feasible self-employment generation projects for the local youth and also to find sponsors for them. I faced an even bigger challenge when I designed several skill developments and entrepreneurship development training programmes in Malawi for HIV/AIDS infected and affected women and was thrilled to see it become a great success. Empowering these women was itself a big challenge. The other challenge I faced in Dominica when I introduced a programme for the high school students under Catch Them Young. The idea was to expose high school students in the field of business and technical studies, to entrepreneurial and business education, as means of encouraging them to seek alternative avenues for employment creation and income generation. This programme is continuing with high school students in the Caribbean.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges?/ What advice, would you give to others?
SSD: When you work with socio, cultural, economic and ethnic groups there are bound to be several challenges in trying to convince and motivate people. Yet I have been successful in overcoming these challenges by sheer grit, determination and belief in myself. For the last 23 years it has been hard work and determination and never loosing site of the goal. Being passionately involved in my work helped me overcome many of my hurdles. Constantly working with the poor and for the poor gives me a sense of pride and happiness. The smile on people’s faces is my driving force.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
SSD: If someone wants to do what I do, my advice to them is to first study entrepreneurship as a subject at graduate level. Next be passionately involved and be ready to work with the youth and be innovative in your approach, understand the problems and find quick solutions.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
SSD: It gives me immense pleasure to be part of the BFP community. BFP is one of the best platforms to share and discuss latest happenings in the field of entrepreneurship. By being a part of the BFP community, I am sure I would be able to share my knowledge and expertise at a global level. It is a beautiful learning and ‘feel good’ experience also.
Thank you to Dr Siddhartha Sankar Dash for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.