Factors influencing business success among the Nagas

Moatangit Longkumer

The Naga people, known for their rich cultural heritage and distinct identities, have long been an integral part of India's north-eastern region. However, despite their resilience and resourcefulness, the Naga community has faced challenges in achieving widespread success in the realm of business. This article excavates into the factors that contribute to the apparent struggle of the Naga people in the business arena, shedding light on both historical context and contemporary challenges.

To understand the challenges faced by the Nagas in business, it's important to consider the historical context in which they exist. The Naga Hills have been known for their hilly terrain, which historically posed significant barriers to trade and economic activities in the region. This geographic isolation has influenced the development of a subsistence-based economy, and also because of conflict and unrest during the British colonial rule and the subsequent periods have further shaped the economic landscape of the region. These historical factors have contributed to limited exposure to modern business practices and a lack of access to resources, both of which have played a role in hindering business success among the people of Nagas.

One of the significant factors influencing business success among the Nagas is the education and skill development gap. Despite recent efforts to enhance the educational system and implement various skill development programs, challenges still remain. Limited access to quality education, particularly in rural areas, along with a lack of support from parents, relatives, the government, and society at large contribute to these issues. The Naga society predominantly esteems government jobs as the only desirable employment option, often marginalizing those working in the private sector or pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors. This societal bias labels individuals engaged in business or the private sector as unemployed, hindering the recognition of diverse forms of meaningful work. Furthermore, impatience within the community concerning business ventures is prevalent. A common aspiration is to achieve overnight millionaire status, which is an unrealistic expectation. This impatient attitude, combined with a lack of innovation, hampered in progress of entrepreneurial success. For instance, about 15 to 20 years ago, the cyber café trend flourished in Nagaland, particularly appealing to teenagers and gamers. However, the market became oversaturated within a short period due to a rush of similar ventures, leading to the downfall of many cyber cafés. This situation could potentially repeat itself, with the current gym business facing similar challenges if differentiation and innovation are not prioritized. Without a strong educational foundation, aspiring entrepreneurs may lack the knowledge and expertise necessary to navigate the complexities of the modern business world. This educational gap can make it difficult for Naga entrepreneurs to compete on a level playing field with their counterparts from other part of the regions who have access to better educational resources.

Infrastructure and connectivity also play a very important role in business to thrive. In the case of Nagaland, the formidable terrain and inadequate infrastructure can pose significant challenges to business operations. We are still way behind in road connectivity as compare to other region;recently, a rockslide blocked the Dimapur–Kohima national highway for few days, causing widespread concern due to the absence of viable alternative routes. Again unreliable power supply compounds business challenges, as evidenced show during a research in Dimapur and Kohima town, where the majority of respondents cited inconsistent power supply as a major issue. Consequently, businesses are forced to invest extra in backup solutions. Furthermore, limited access to modern communication technologies can hinder the growth of businesses in the region. Also, lack of proper infrastructure can lead to increase the cost of doing business, making it challenging to remain competitive in broader markets. Investments in improving infrastructure and connectivity could play an important role in boosting business prospects for the Naga people.

Access to markets and finance is a common hurdle faced by entrepreneurs worldwide, and we the Naga people are no exception. Limited exposure to wider markets and a lack of business networks can restrict the growth of Naga enterprises. Additionally, obtaining funding and investment opportunities can be challenging due to factors such as the perception of higher risk in the region and the absence of well-established financial institutions. To address this challenge, there is a need for targeted interventions that provide access to training, mentorship, and financing opportunities. Creating platforms that connect Naga entrepreneurs with potential investors and markets could go a long way in nurturing business growth. Government policies and support also help in fostering a conducive environment for business success. While initiatives have been taken to promote entrepreneurship and economic development in Nagaland, there is still room for improvement. Streamlining bureaucratic procedures, offering incentives for investment, and providing targeted support to budding entrepreneurs can create an environment where businesses can flourish. It is essential to collaborate between the stakeholders like government, private sector, and civil society to identify the specific needs of the Naga business community and design effective policies and programs that address those needs.

The challenges faced by the Nagas in achieving business success are deeply rooted in historical, socio-economic, and cultural factors. While these challenges are complex, they are not unconquerable. By acknowledging the historical context, investing in education and skill development, improving infrastructure, and creating an enabling policy environment, we can begin to overcome these obstacles. Nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship requires a multi-faceted approach that takes into account the unique context of Nagaland. By encouraging innovation, providing mentorship and training, and promoting a shift in mind set that embraces both tradition and progress, we can pave the way for a thriving business ecosystem.T he journey to business success for the Naga people will require collective efforts from all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, educational institutions, and the society itself. With determination and strategic interventions, we can overcome the challenges and build a brighter economic future for ourselves as well as for the region.

The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce SJC(A).