Three key insights from a ‘Man on Wings’

As one of the few ‘man on wings’, I had the opportunity to travel to India end of 2016 on behalf of Women on Wings and meet and work with a number of entrepreneurs in the field of food, retail and textiles.

Thanks to the excellent preparations by Ronald van het Hof, Ineke Bezembinder and Supriya Kapoor who travelled with me, I had the opportunity to travel to New Delhi, Bangalore and Guhawati and meet with potential new business partners, existing business partners, network partners and participate in the CEO textile summit.

I want to share 3 key insights from my time in India:
1) Social enterprises as the new standard. If there is one place in the world where the need for the global development goals is omnipresent, it’s India. Urbanization puts a major pressure on all resources and equal income opportunities for all is far from a reality. Encouragingly, I´ve met super talented, energized and experienced professionals who realize their dream of making a positive impact to society and create economic welfare through leading social enterprises. It´s not either OR, its an AND game and the model of social enterprise seems to be a sustainable way for development.

2) Beyond Fairtrade. Historically western consumers might be used to buy Fairtrade or “feel good” products from India, but recently there is a lot more to choose from. The new generation social entrepreneurs market brands for the domestic and international market with premium product and brand benefits that meet the requirements of millennial shoppers. Organic food with proven health benefits targeting at pregnant women or hand loomed cloths available from that are created as a ‘gift of love” vs “as cheap as possible”.

3) Focus is key. As an entrepreneur in India, one is overwhelmed with a vast amount of opportunities – a massive domestic market of 1,3 billion people (imagine a 1% market share!), export to other regional and global markets, stellar growth of the physical retail and e-commerce markets and so on. In reality this means that many entrepreneurs only scratch the surface in their current business model or revenue stream. Especially social entrepreneurs, in their aim to increase impact, run the risk of diluting resources across activities with limited synergy. As Ronald van het Hof likes to say: Hocus Pocus Focus!

Looking forward to contribute as Man on Wings in 2017!

Casper Schoenmakers
Expert volunteer in the area of Go To Market