Kaun Banega Business Leader: Social Innovation for Unearthing Aspirations

Despite the widespread perception that entrepreneurial ventures are risky, unstable and lack social security benefits as opposed to a stable job, many in rural India are opting for entrepreneurship. It is slowly being recognised as a prominent way to address unemployment and the need for dignified livelihoods, taking a centre-stage in the micro economies of rural India. Entrepreneurship in short is enabling communities to explore new opportunities, ideas and innovations showing the potential to invigorate local markets and economies.

Entrepreneurship when seen through the lens of addressing aspirations and innovations can aid in moving away from need-based ventures to value-creating ones at the local level. To realise the potential of entrepreneurship-led dignified livelihoods that can initiate socio-economic shifts at the local scale, there is a need to develop supportive ecosystems. The need is urgent as despite isolated success stories, there still persist social, informational and economic barriers in the pathway of micro entrepreneurship. Conditions become worse in rural economies like Bundelkhand, where entrenched socio-economic barriers prevent the mushrooming of local entrepreneurs.

Kajal Parihar, a 19-year-old entrepreneur in Bundelkhand after completing her computer course in February 2020 was looking for work opportunities. Kajal always aspired to start something of her own but was unaware of any support services in or around her village that could enable her to set up her own enterprise. That is when she came across the second edition of the Kaun Banega Business Leader (KBBL) (Who will be a Business Leader) competition being promoted in her village.

Kaun Banega Business Leader (KBBL) 2.0 was launched in 40 villages of Bundelkhand in February 2020 under the Work 4 Progress (W4P) India programme of Development Alternatives and “la Caixa” Foundation1. Kajal entered the competition with the idea to start a common service centre and information kiosk and subsequently won the competition for her vision to support her community through information services.

The KBBL competition deploys social innovation principles of neutral participation, creativity and collective decision-making, to deepen dialogue and initiate processes of co-creation with the community. The tool has shown evidence of its success in its first version, which was launched in 2018 (in 20 villages of Bundelkhand) to initiate dialogue with communities. It uses innovative community engagement activities like street plays with real life success stories of rural entrepreneurs, social games, community radio, narrowcasting of audio programmes. It encourages communities to take up entrepreneurship and challenge societal complexes attached to it. Since the first version in 2018, the tool has moved beyond its potential to provide a platform for women and youth to realise their latent entrepreneurial energies and motivates them to think out-of-box innovative business ideas to solve issues of unemployment and migration.

In other words, it looks out for “business leaders'' – individuals who are more than just entrepreneurs and have the zeal to go beyond running a business and contribute to the growth of the local economy. For many like Kajal, the competition has helped in overcoming initial challenges in the pursuit of entrepreneurship. The competition not only culls out innovative business ideas but also engages the applicants in a business plan co-creation to map the sustainability and profitability of their enterprises. The tool is now being modified and transferred into different versions to cater to the growing aspirations of youth and women.

Kajal today owns the first woman-led Information Kiosk catering to 10 villages of Bundelkhand and is also helping other women to set-up enterprises by giving peer to peer learning sessions or giving them exposure to new business ideas. “My kiosk will save people’s time and money. Now my community members won’t have to travel for hours to get access to digital and computer services. I want to offer special discounts for women who do not have smartphones,” shared Kajal on the inauguration of her enterprise. 


1 The Work 4 Progress (W4P) program aims at accelerating creation of meaningful and dignified employment by providing enterprise development opportunities for youth and women in two regions – Bundelkhand and Eastern Uttar Pradesh.


Roopali Gupta
Upma Singh


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