In the last FIFA World Cup football finals in Rio de Janeiro, I witnessed the surgical precision with which the German team defeated the Argentines, led by the immensely talented Lionel Messi. Earlier, the technocratic Germans had demolished the Brazilian team, which was missing their injured star, Neymar. Messi is beautiful to watch, even on a bad day, as is Neymar, but if there was ever a demonstration that acting as a team trumps the lone wolf, here it was in all its splendour. In building new companies or organisations it is clichéd to say, “You must operate as a team, even if hard to pull off.” Here I want to, however, point to a different sense in which entrepreneurship is, at the level of a system, a team sport. The sense in which I ean this is that different parts of the entrepreneurial fabric in a location must work together to enable creativity on the round. Of course, this should concern policymakers, but it should also concern you and me, as we try to develop our own ventures and see our creativity get expressed on the ground. Let me give you some examples of entities that should work in andem but often do not. Consider schools and corporations. Most of those concerned about school reform debate teacher attendance, parental involvement, curricular reform and so on, and this is appropriate. But, it’s not unheard of for corporations to sponsor, say, science prizes to encourage the kids to be innovative, and to act as role models for the kids. In he US, the Intel Science Talent Search competition for high school students is very prestigious. Intel surely gets branding value out of this, but more importantly, it is part of its responsibility to the fabric of science education in the US. Corporations n the developing world have started to pay attention, but not nearly sufficiently. Perhaps more of them can start small.
For example, they might sponsor a dozen or so schools and develop the mechanisms to run such a competition. As a lost opportunity, it always pains me to find civil society and corporations at odds with one another. Why not work together wherever there is common ground? Find an entity doing good social work and work with them to help them scale up their effort. There are dozens of well managed and socially minded organisations. Again, it’s not hard; it’s really a mind-set issue. In my work with global agribusiness companies in South East Asia over the past decade, we collaborated with many organisations like this. For example, we worked closely with Conservation International, a global activist organisation, in omoting suffi environmental damage. Finally, lots of folks from Medellin to Mombasa and Mumbai are trying very hard to pur entrepreneurship in developing countries. But conservatism and aversion to risk-taking remains a big barrier. Of course, here are long-standing mercantile communities ema-biodiversity and minimising nation in the developing world, for example, the storied Lebanese merchants, or the Marwari’s in India, yet the rank and file of societies are incredibly risk verse; with good reason. There are few safety nets. There is no general health insurance (let alone adequate health facilities) and no unemployment benefits, so that if one embraces a risky professional life. The general point here is our institutions that remote entrepreneurship must work with the institutions that provide safety nets. This will take time, but for now, if our existing entities and corporations learn to de-stigmatise the failure that comes with risk-taking, and recognise and celebrate t, it will help provide a de facto employment safety net. To see the promise of this idea, consider the counter-factual. Let me o back to Brazil, which under President Lula, promoted Bolsa Familia, a conditional cash transfer programme celebrated for elping a quarter of Brazil’s population get out of abject poverty. But, the next act is not clear. Bolsa Familia does not yet ork ell with other institutions to help those people get to the next level; it does not encourage them to take risks and embrace entrepreneurship. So companies would do well to work in symbiosis with institutions in their countries that promote ocational skills, so as to provide even more developmental choices to those who benefit from their services already. A ommittee I currently chair for the Government of India (NITI Aayog) is trying to foster such productive inter-connectedness mong the disparate pieces of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Entrepreneurship is a team sport, not just within the team uilding each enterprise, but also at the level of the institutions in a society. It is, as the Brazilians say, jogo bonito, a beautiful game that we must learn to play much better.