On Entrepreneurship and Impact: Introduction

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Desh Deshpande
Desh Deshpande
Desh Deshpande

By Desh Deshpande

(Editor’s note: We are pleased to launch our long-awaited weekly video column with philanthropist and serial entrepreneur Desh Deshpande, with excerpts from his book “On Entrepreneurship and Impact.” This column will appear every Monday.)

The world has changed dramatically in the last six decades that I have witnessed.  Most of the changes have been brought about by technological innovations and entrepreneurs who have put them to good use.  Millions of people have been lifted out of poverty.  The power of innovation and entrepreneurship continues to multiply in the connected world we live in.

However, the difference between those who benefit from this new economy and those who get left behind continues to widen.  While there is a lot of conversation about a ‘shared economy’ there is no obvious solution in sight.  In some ways entrepreneurship is what is creating this divide.  However, I think entrepreneurship can also fix this problem.

Whether it is impoverished pockets in affluent economies or disadvantaged regions in developing countries, the typical approach to addressing the economic divide is by tired approaches that provide handouts, assistance and aid. While these solutions might address the issues in the short term, they seldom stick as there is little local ownership or capacity to absorb them.

We believe that encouraging an entrepreneurial mindset at the grassroots level will better accelerate change and create positive local impact that will eventually lift communities. A clear path to entrepreneurship helps strengthen local ecosystems by providing a hand up to people to fulfil their dreams instead of a handout to continue a basic subsistence,

While we need high tech, fast growth entrepreneurial companies at the high end, we also need to provide people in other segments of society a means to craft their own future through entrepreneurial action. This can only be done by creating a strong ecosystem that highlights local entrepreneurship, identifies and encourages entrepreneurs and builds local economic capacity.

Regardless of the type of entrepreneur, whether a high tech one or at the grassroots level, the challenges and the questions one has to face are similar.  This book is targeted at both types.  It is an attempt to answer some of the questions that entrepreneurs face.  Please reach out to us on the book’s website, provide your feedback, ask questions, challenge the issues and ideas. We look forward to publishing a sequel based on your response.

Thank you for being a fellow entrepreneur.  Apart from the ability to impact the world, I have found that it is a great way to live. Entrepreneurs share two common attributes; they are naïve and very optimistic.  They see every challenge as an opportunity and they believe that tomorrow is always going to be better than today.  Nothing can beat living this optimistic life, always hopeful of a better tomorrow.  My hope is that millions of optimistic entrepreneurs will take charge of the problems facing their communities, creating a vibrant and more just world where everyone is excited about the future.

(About Desh Deshpande: During his entrepreneurial career spanning over three decades, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande has built several companies. He has injected his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship into a number of social impact initiatives in India, the USA and Canada. He has been recognized for his entrepreneurial accomplishments by many institutions including being named co-chair of President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He currently also serves as a Life Member of the MIT corporation. He resides in Boston together with his wife, Jaishree.)

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