SME, entrepreneurship and Covid ‘stimulus package’
No rigid solution about any vaccine to fight the mysterious 'enemy' has been found as of now. Finding out a vaccine that will shine light for all across the globe are clouded, clouded with scattered information from many reputed countries' top medical schools. Now, finding a vaccine for a mysterious virus is not a joke.
As the whole world collectively in a clustered group-wise manner trying to fight this enemy, with every day and night passing; intense, devastating and perhaps irreversible losses is being incurred by the Small and Medium Business Enterprises and by entrepreneurs who, for example, just got their products from prototype to working one before getting into the market.
Now, as countries are competing for finding the vaccine that can save us all from the unfathomable tragedy of the 'historical year', days and nights aren't stagnant. SME and small time entrepreneurs are undergoing significant detrimental effects from which it will be abstruse to recover even with the lucrative packages the government and other international enteritis (through the government) are providing. However, there is a common factor here which isn't so hard to figure out like some complex third order partial differential equation.
The common factor is due to prolonged period of shut down of the world, peoples from prodigious, wealthy, and perhaps the greatest inspiration of our time, Mark Zuckerberg to the Hawker who sells fruits on the streets on many third world underdeveloped countries are being affected financially. Exactly here comes the 'strain factor', a variable of legal world that connects economic status to crime into play. The financial deterioration Zuckerberg is facing is nothing in comparison to the hawker, the low-level employee, simply put the very poor of society of not only third world country but developed nation like the United States, United Kingdom etc.
SME and entrepreneurship-do they fall under the same basket? What are the differences between a businessmen and an entrepreneur? One businessman is the person who runs an entity that is already established, in operation and producing products or services while an entrepreneur is a totally different concept. Comparing businessmen with an entrepreneur is like comparing the Mars with the Sun-which will make no sense at all. Apparently a visible trend is intensifying its root in the country which is putting small business, medium business and just for example, a start-up run by three-four friends under the same umbrella. It is well established how important, resourceful, and impact generating machines for the economy of the country are the SMEs as it not only provides products to the customer, but it aids the economy by generating employment of a significant chunk of population of the country. And keeping this paramount urgency in mind, the Government and private sector did come up with 'stimulus packages' for SMEs to survive this brutal shakedown the world has faced in recent time.
Surprisingly, Entrepreneurship-the very idea of what an entrepreneur is and what he/she does is yet at its infancy even though there are so many glamorous show-off of how the country has produced many entrepreneurs. In reality, the country has successfully produced 'outsourcing robots' who outsource their services which can put under no definition of entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur doesn't run an established business rather starts with an idea which might work or fail (most of the cases). When the idea works, they go for making their service/products and do market survey to check if the market needs what he/she or their start-up is trying to provide. The main challenge an entrepreneur faces in the obscure dark road ahead is financing. And the Government during this time of tragic melt-down of the world has left all the entrepreneurial spirits the youths of the country just generated to point blank nothing.
Numerous times it has been uttered that imitation isn't innovation, and what isn't innovation isn't entrepreneurship. Opening up a French restaurant at California, or a new Burger shop of the developing Bangladesh's Dhanmondi, is no way entrepreneurship. And picking up the phone to answer some written script to provide call-center service for developed country isn't entrepreneurship either. So, it is logical to deduct that the experts of Bangladesh lack in-depth knowledge about actually what is entrepreneurship for there is no 'rigid definition' of it either.
In normal time, millions of ideas-good and bad-end up in the graveyard for many reasons. Then, try to think in this 'new normal' time how abnormal it is when Bangladesh has to send its people to learn how to cultivate potato in effective manner by spending a fortune.
The enormous number of zoom meetings, talk-shows about creating leader, innovator has wasted capital, real-time money with zero impact. The aftermath when everything returns to normal will be catastrophic for those who want or wanted to be entrepreneurs given there is no coordinated stimulus package for the entrepreneurs of the country. It is never possible realistically for one start-up in a country like Bangladesh to fight against the big 'corporation mafia' to bring their dream into reality without properly raising awareness, teaching and advising people on the differences between business and entrepreneur.
Not everyone becomes Zuckerburg or Bill gates most fails due to many reasons, but do remember they both did have a place, namely parental support in the case their adventurous journey failed. It is perplexing that the a2i, ICT division, PMO start-up funding division etc all are being manipulated by people who didn't provide a single logical, workable and effective route which the thousands of entrepreneurs--from the little girl of a village stitching her dream by making some new products to the complex robot makers--should follow. There is no stimulus package for solely the Entrepreneurs who were perhaps some small steps away from being called SME prior to this tragic year.
The deeper the night, the closer the dawn; the darker the night gets, the vicinity of light gets closer to appear. It is time for the stakeholders to think, think deeply during the darkness about the future of the SMEs and Entrepreneurs both.
Specially, the stakeholders should research, learn, and strategize how they plan to provide the entrepreneurs with additional support that they need to keep their dream afloat and not to end up in the graveyard. It is paramount to remember Entrepreneurs are the one who when mentored, supported and provided with the proper resources can cause an intense positive shake-down of the economy for their idea was never their before in the market and these visionaries' ideas must be protected by all cost so that they can get their ball of ideas rolling before even this so-called invisible virus disappears.
The writer is an Aerospace Engineering Consultant