Our impact, Their voices

How SIYB helps new entrepreneurs start their business and find a career path

Chandramauli Pathak, Isac Singh and Archana Kumari, trainers of the ILO Start and Improve your Business (SIYB) programme, talk about why entrepreneurship training matters, challenges in starting a business, and why attitudes towards entrepreneurship must change to create a conducive business environment.

Feature | 01 November 2017
A grocery and stationery store run by a SIYB beneficiary, Geeta Devi, Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh (India).
How does SIYB help the youth enter the world of entrepreneurship? 
Isac Singh:
The ILO SIYB training is catered towards individuals who wish to tap into their entrepreneurial potential and explore new business opportunities. The training helps them acquire enterprise management skills to start and manage small businesses successfully. It offers them an alternative career path and helps them become economically independent while also providing employment opportunities to their family and community.

Chandramauli Pathak:
There are three modules in the SIYB programme. In ‘Generate your business idea’ (GYB), the training helps candidates analyse and finalize their own innovative business ideas. Shaky business ideas are turned into mature and positive concepts. In Start your business (SYB), the participants go on to prepare a business plan and they ascertain the resources required to avail financial assistance for their enterprise. The next and the final step is ‘Improve your business (IYB)’ – this module trains them to manage business operations and scale it, and look at their investment and financial operations.

What happens once the participant has finished his/her training?
Isac Singh:
Once training is completed, participants are expected to convert their learnings into an action plan. Around 40 to 60 per cent of the candidates prepare a plan to set up their own business after undergoing the GYB training. Some also opt to go into the next level of training. This module helps participants to develop their skills to analyse businesses from a research perspective. They are trained to observe and reflect on the prevailing business environment so that they understand the market and are able to focus on making their businesses sustainable in the long run. In SYB - candidates are taught to assess bankable business plans with the help of business experts. They need to diagnose at an early stage whether their business idea is viable and profitable. Next is to find their potential market, organize the production and processes, raise capital, arrange for labour and raw materials, and find a site of operation.

Post training, the trainer follows up on the businesses, monitors and evaluates them so as to confirm that these start-ups are sustainable.

What key challenges do new entrepreneurs face once they have set up their businesses?
Archana Kumari:
A key challenge is to acquire the required capital to set up the business. Next, once a business is off ground, entrepreneurs end up facing delayed invoicing issues. This is a common woe. Many first time entrepreneurs thus struggle to pay their bills because of the disrupted cash flow. They also find it difficult to break-even on their investments. It is a discouraging pattern.

Team building is another crucial area where the entrepreneur faces roadblocks. Picking the right team is stressful and difficult. It is not enough to find candidates to fill certain roles, the entrepreneur also must consider the cost to the business and how an individual will function as part of a team.

Then comes decision making challenges. New entrepreneurs are forced to make hundreds of decisions every day. Most entrepreneurs face what we call the decision fatigue. This happens when they are not prepared for the stress of starting and managing a business.

Throughout these various lifecycles of building a business, the trainer offers support and mentoring.

What kind of successful businesses have been supported under SIYB? List a few examples.
Chandramauli Pathak
Most of the businesses are trade or service type micro-businesses. Only a handful may start a manufacturing enterprise. Some of the small successful business are in sectors like garments, beauty and grooming, food, repairing automobiles and electric appliances, dairy among others.

What kind of enabling socio-cultural environment is needed to help the youth and women consider entrepreneurship as a career option?
Archana Kumari:
The socio–cultural environment plays a critical role in encouraging individuals to start their own enterprise. Entrepreneurship is often considered a ‘Plan B’ for most when they are unable to secure a job. This attitude should change. Support from family and encouragement from peers create an enabling environment for potential entrepreneurs. Integrating entrepreneurship in formal education systems and raising awareness – play an important role in boosting the entrepreneurship landscape in India.

Women constitute a major target group for the ILO programmes in India. SIYB has helped many women break social barriers and set up their own enterprise, although challenges remain. Now they run their own beauty salons or tailoring businesses. They have become self-reliant and their confidence has seen a boost. Many women also report improved socio-economic statuses along with a boost to their family income and living standards.

Can early vocational training help with this regard?
Archana Kumari:

Yes, early vocational training is important. It motivates potential entrepreneurs to innovate and adapt to the market using their skills. Vocational training also helps prospective entrepreneurs learn about building businesses from scratch.

What are your critical observations based on the experience of implementing the SIYB programme?
Isac Singh:
SIYB has greatly benefited local communities. It has led to job creation and enterprise development, and has helped potential entrepreneurs’ access credits and minimize business casualty by adopting sustainable business models. SIYB still has a long way to go. Some of the ways in which the programme can become more effective and widespread are:
  1. Making SIYB affordable for the marginalized communities;
  2. Breaking social and cultural barriers to allow women to start their own enterprise, and;
  3. Sensitizing government and banking institutions to the needs and benefits of SIYB.
The Start and Improve Your Business programme of the ILO is one of the largest global business management training programmes, implemented in more than 100 countries across Africa, Asia and South America. It helps small-scale entrepreneurs to start and grow their business, as a strategy to create more and better decent employment for both women and men. In India, the SIYB programme is being implemented in a number of states, in collaboration with different governmental agencies and civil society organizations through a network of more than 200 trainers and six master trainers. The programme is currently active in 16 Indian states. Around 140 active trainers have trained nearly 6000 entrepreneurs in the past 12 months. More information on the SIYB website