Business and Gujarat in India are synonymous. Entrepreneurship is revered like a religion in Gujarat. However small, most of the Gujarati families here are engaged in some kind of a business or the other. Entrepreneurship in Gujarat stems from family values. Gujaratis have specialized in the art of creating demand for new and different products and services.
But this phenomenon is nothing new. Records from Roman, Greek, and Arab visitors since times immemorial have taken note of this region’s entrepreneurial spirit. Trade guilds called ‘shrenis’ and ‘mahajans’ have been in existence since the early days of the 18th century. This region was famous for various industries like tanning, textiles, perfumes, and sugar, as referenced by foreign travelers Pliny and Marco Polo. The American Civil War too brought fortunes for the region for the huge demand for cotton, which consequently led Premchand Roychand, the founder of BSE, his name. The question then one thinks, what is it actually that makes Gujarat the land of entrepreneurs?
- Long coastline: India’s longest coastline in Gujarat has been not just beneficial for the region recently, but it has contributed to global trade since times immemorial. Ports of Bharuch, Surat, and Cambay flourish due to extensive trade with western nations, including the British, who established their first factory in Surat.
- Family Background: Gujarati families are tightly-knit traditionally, with one or another member being involved in some kind of business. Children get their first business lessons under their fathers and grandfathers before making their mark when they grow up. One of the best examples is Reliance Industries, started by Dhirubhai Ambani, currently handled by his family.
- Risk-Takers: People of Gujarat have never been shy of taking risks. They try to come up with innovative ways to make a living by establishing a certain kind of business. They understand that greater risks mean greater profits, and that lets them move forward.
- Valuing opportunity and evolution: Learning is the foundation of everything. The people of the region value even the basic opportunities in the business space to understand and learn the nuances of the trade. This lets them evolve over time to finally work on their own businesses and enjoy the sweet fruits of their hard work.
- Higher disposable income: Gujaratis are among the richest communities in India. This has ensured that people can save enough while putting the rest of money into other tasks like entrepreneurship. Madhapar village in the Kutch district of Gujarat is the richest village in India. Another factor for high incomes is the fact that Gujarat has one of the largest numbers of NRIs, which has ensured higher foreign remittance to the state over the years.
- Proximity to the financial capital: Till 1960, Gujarat was part of the Bombay state. But the effect of proximity to Mumbai is present even today. People hitch their fortunes to the entrepreneurship wagon moving towards Mumbai after starting their journey in Gujarat, as it gives them a cushion before moving forward.
- Skill development: Institutes like ITIs and EDII, Ahmedabad contribute to their overall development regarding different skill-sets. Developing their skills has ensured that they are best at what they do and, in turn, increase their gains.
One can’t list enough factors for Gujarat being an entrepreneurship-rich state. But the growth of the state and its communities has been phenomenal over the years in the field of business and entrepreneurship. Its people have created a different landscape to enable better entrepreneurship in the region. This region has been suggested to be one of the greatest startup ecosystems in the coming future.