In Nagaland, where there is rampant economic insecurity and youth violence, Neichute Doulo is creating a culture for youth entrepreneurship and a new generation of socially responsible business entrepreneurs. He is defusing the frustration amongst youth by helping them develop self-employment and entrepreneurial skills.
Through meetings and motivational talks, Neichute is encouraging Naga youth and communities to change their attitudes towards work and their role in the economy. These meetings conducted in association with religious organisations, and other traditional local institutions, strategically engage youth and enroll them into the entrepreneurship program. Youth participants receive training on subjects such as running enterprises, business ethics, capitalising on ideas for setting up businesses. This is bolstered by unique peer-to-peer mentoring that brings successful first generation entrepreneurs and new entrepreneurs together. New entrepreneurs are guided to succeed in their business and encouraged to give back to society by creating employment for others, helping launch a business, or investing in Neichute’s microfinance fund. Until date, Neichute’s organisation, Entrepreneur Associates (EAs), has successfully mentored and trained more than 2700 young entrepreneurs, employing more than 15,000 youth in the process.
To ensure the success of Naga youth, Neichute is also creating a local supportive environment. In the absence of financial support from banks, Neichute has also partnered with other financial organisations to provide loans to small and medium enterprises. The Entrepreneur Associates’ microfinance fund coupled with financing from partner organisations has provided 50 crores of financial assistance to start-ups, small scale units, and self-help groups. Neichute is also creating Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) in partnership with other financial players to provide an additional 500 crores as seed money for the next 5 years. He has also introduced new roles for the support group; the local public as financial investors, the church or the village council for accountability, and successful young business people as mentors. Neichute plans to strengthen the support system by working with the government to create policy interventions that encourage entrepreneurship. For example, Neichute worked with the Government of Nagaland to promote entrepreneurship through their flagship program “Year of the Entrepreneur” in 2010 and 2011.
By showcasing the social and economic benefit of youth entrepreneurship, Neichute has changed the mind-sets of tribal communities that discourage entrepreneurship in their own communities. Neichute’s efforts are not limited to youth engagement, as he encourages entrepreneurship at large. For example, he is motivating farmers to look at additional livelihood activities like capitalising on market driven fruits to increase their income by a lakh every year.
Note: This was updated in December, 2013, read on for the ELECTION profile.