Where scions help ex-staff become entrepreneurs

By mentoring, handholding and incubating units, tycoons help ex-employees find their feet

Band of 30 wants to convert job seekers to job generators

These are no ordinary employers, who either conduct exit interviews to try retain an employee, or hold back their dues to punish them for leaving. Rather, these employers try to kindle their former employees’ entrepreneurial zeal, and handhold them as the enthusiastic staff go about setting up their own business.

Meet this band of 30 second- or third-generation entrepreneurs of family businesses who have come together to attempt a new way to foster entrepreneurship. “We saw employee exits positively,” said Rahul Dasgupta of Alpha Network (AN), the network that was forged for this purpose about six months ago. “Our aim is to transform job seekers to job givers by putting them in an ecosystem of entrepreneurs.”

By mentoring, handholding and if need be, providing an incubation facility for a period in their own systems, these scions help ex-staff find their feet.

‘Flipping the model’

“We have flipped the model [of helping start-ups only with funds]”, said Mr. Dasgupta, an AN board member and director, Globsyn Business School, adding their plan was to emphasise on mentoring to help fledgling entrepreneurs taste success, instead of just extending funds support to a start up.

“Our support is on the ground and in kind rather than in cash,” he said, citing the success story of Uttam Hui, who quit managing 75 skill training centres under Globsyn Skills, a training institute, to start his own centre. “He wanted to leave as he was feeling stagnant… we encouraged him to start his own business,” Mr. Dasgupta said.

“Globsyn gave me the initial push by helping me set up five centres that were approved under Globsyn Skills by the National Skill Development Council,” Mr Hui said. This support helped him to build his brand and grow his business. “At present, my training centres provide skill development facilities in sectors like banking, retail and hospitality.”

Vivek Goyal, co-Founder and director, Zink London, a womenswear label, catalysed a similar entrepreneurial journey when Abur, a tailor cum line-man working for him, wanted to start his own business. With help from his former employer, Abur, known only by his first name, bought 30 machines and is now running a 250-machine factory with 300 people on his rolls.

“I am now GST compliant and am planning to help a relative to launch his own unit,” Mr. Abur said. “A mentor advises a start-up on structuring and disciplinary/regulatory issues that helps an organisation grow,” said Mr. Goyal.

So far, AN has facilitated 10 entrepreneurs, whose ventures have generated about 200 jobs across sectors such as manufacturing, services, hospitality, education and gems and jewellery.

Affiliated to industry body Assocham, AN has set itself a target of each member fostering three such potential entrepreneurs annually. It is also talking to counterparts across the country to expand the network beyond Kolkata by 2018-end to about 100 mentors.


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