The cultural economy of a country leverages the commercial potential of products, services or experiences based on its indigenous culture and heritage.
India is a nation with a rich heritage and value system. As a civilizational nation state, we have made many seminal contributions to human thought including in philosophy, arts, architecture, metallurgy, crafts, physical sciences, astronomy, sustainable living and governance.
India has largely operated in an open environment where its knowledge and practices have been available to all. Yet in spite of, or because of this, India does not have any meaningful global representation of its cultural assets. Even the Indian cuisine in the UK is largely not owned and managed by Indians!
Not capitalizing on the worldwide commercialization of yoga and the fast adoption of superfoods based on the Indian system of wellness are ongoing examples of Bharat and India losing out on the opportunity to build heritage brands and create value. Our artisans and craftspeople, for example, are employed by overseas brands and corporations to work on products based on their designs and materials.
It is time to reverse this situation! Indian cultural businesses need to move away from only providing labor and services to western buyers, brands and importers, to delivering products and services to customers based on their innovation, design, branding, marketing and technology.
From being suppliers to owning the international market value chain demands a new level of thinking.
Creating Indian owned brands and companies, using the enormous talent of our artisans, craftspeople, mining the knowledge of say, Ayurveda for health, wellness & beauty, crafting experiential Indian tourism packages for people around the world, by naturally leveraging the global movement for sustainable living, plant-based foods to our advantage is all possible now given the confluence of trends, demographics, entrepreneurial energy, talent and availability of technology in India. The Indian diaspora too, one of the largest in the world, is of great value in this effort.
We are therefore right now at a strategic juncture. The time for change is NOW!
Over the last two decades, we have made significant strides in the global IT services market. In recent times, the start-up movement has been instrumental in creating many millionaires and establishing entrepreneurs as poster boys of the middle class.
Cultural entrepreneurs too have built successful businesses for branded products and services that are based on India’s cultural traditions and heritage. FabIndia, Amul, Forest Essentials, Shahnaz Husain, and new-age Indian cultural brands like Jaypore that have become global.
We have about 65 million MSMEs (micro, medium, small enterprises) across sectors but they have not scaled up despite access to technology. It’s a question of time, management ethos and capital.
To leverage our young workforce and a growing consumption-led economy to create Brand India, we ought to focus on areas of maximum global impact and concentrate our efforts on building local and international sustainable markets.
Entrepreneurship and skill development are critical to empowering India to become a thriving economy while building Brand India in parallel.
At NICE Org, our aim is to tap the top-down as well as bottom-up effects of wealth creation.
There are many pathways for us to impact and succeed in creating an ecosystem for cultural entrepreneurs. An important one is to be a network that includes Experts, Customers, Suppliers and Investors that enables access to markets and risk capital.
We are NICE – Network of Indian Cultural Enterprises. Our raison d’etre is to be a catalyst for building Brand India through its cultural and creative economy.
How do we intend to achieve this?
By impacting thousands of entrepreneurs through a conspicuous NICE movement that is inclusive and effective and is also exemplary through our actions.
Our milestones will include building a network of energetic entrepreneurs in our categories of focus, across multiple cities of India through various chapters of NICE. Starting with about six metros by the end of 2022, we will replicate a working model across tier 1 and 2 towns over the next couple of years or sooner.
Connecting people and enabling collaborations are crucial for building a community. Thanks to technology and the pandemic, most of our interactions have moved online, be it webinars, chats or even deals!
At NICE Org, we will carry forward this coming together and enable conversations in the real world.
We are determined for NICE entrepreneurs to leverage the network and scale up their businesses. Here are the intended benefits:
Our captive audience needs to stay committed to reap the full benefit of the NICE initiative.
Needless to mention, the focus to build successful businesses must be an obsessive operating philosophy. The goodwill and value generated from such a focus will be pivotal in generating positive, self-fulfilling prophecies for enabling Brand India.
A good metaphor is the Kalaripayattu i.e., orchestrating nimble movements, capable of creating disproportionate impact in a short period.
As the CEO of NICE Org, I see myself working with multiple stakeholders including private & public sectors, volunteers & office bearers from diverse backgrounds in seeding and growing multiple commercial ventures.
I intend to attract and work with people of all kinds with a passion for fostering cultural entrepreneurship.
The path to success may be paved with many challenges, but the joy and adventure of creating a large number of successful cultural enterprises are inspiring and motivating.
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Kalaripayattu Image by Phil Bus