‘If partnerships are consistent, we can go a long way’

B20 Conference delegates check out the products put up by entrepreneurs from Nagaland at the State Banquet Hall, Kohima on April 5. (Morung Photo)

B20 Conference delegates check out the products put up by entrepreneurs from Nagaland at the State Banquet Hall, Kohima on April 5. (Morung Photo)

Entrepreneurs from Nagaland ‘deliver’ mixed verdict on B20 Summit 

Vishü Rita Krocha
Kohima | April 6

Despite the criticism surrounding the recently concluded Business 20 (B20) Conference, the official G20 dialogue forum for the global business community, entrepreneurs from Nagaland have viewed it as a “great platform” to talk and showcase their products.

“For us, this was a great platform as we were able to showcase our products such as handicrafts, handloom, food processing, etc. Although it was not given to all the entrepreneurs because of the space and time constraint, Made in Nagaland represents Nagaland in a way and I believe we were able to attract a lot of attention,” Director of YouthNet, Nuneseno Chase, put across.

The Centre, an initiative of YouthNet that hosts over 120 entrepreneurs by showcasing and displaying locally produced goods and services, was given a space at the Banquet Hall.

A delegate from Japan was very surprised and inspired to see Nagaland honey and wine being sold at the centre, she shared, adding that those products’ entrepreneurs were able to strike deals with them. 

“For us at YouthNet,” she pointed out, “we are facilitators and if any of the delegates showed interest in any of the items, we would call the entrepreneur who made them, introduce them.”

Though the government got a lot of “negative feedback,” Chase maintained that they are “very happy because the entrepreneurs got the opportunity to interact with the delegates directly, and talk about their products.” 

She further observed that Naga entrepreneurs are getting more confident at pitching their products and termed the event a ‘good exercise’ for them.

Reiterating that the G20 was a great platform for entrepreneurs to network and share about their products, the YouthNet Director asserted: “If these partnerships are consistent and we are able to build on those partnerships, we can go a long way.”

‘Authentically contribute value worthy of a global platform’
As India increases its interest in the North-East and provides opportunities for us to speak on global platforms, entrepreneurs, government, businesses and the community must come together with a message that is worthy of a global stage, averred Kevisato Sanyü, Founder of NagaEd.

Further posing what is our contribution to the global community, he elucidated that “the contribution a people or nation can make does not necessarily correlate with size or economic status.” 

In this regard, he also cited how Jamaica’s music industry has influenced almost every music genre globally and how “Aboriginal Australians have demonstrated great global leadership in their activism and advocacy for the rights and culture of indigenous peoples.”

Pointing out that their population are less than half that of the Nagas, he emphasised that, “we must reflect profoundly and authentically contribute value worthy of a global platform.”

‘Good linkage event’
For Imtisunep Longchar, Co-founder of Ilandlo, the platform was more a “good linkage event rather than a potential investment opportunity.” 
It was more about learning what other countries and delegates are doing in their fields, he shared. 

In the meantime, he also felt that, “perhaps, we could have done better in the printed booklets” while pointing out that there were quite a lot of typos and errors. “The planning could have been done better in terms of setting up the B2B meet in a proper organised set-up,” he expressed.

While the summit also provided a good opportunity to exchange of rich culture, resources and ideas, Zakietsono Jamir, Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Barista Entrepreneur, opined that there were more of programmes and very less interactive sessions.

However, the government cannot be fully blamed for it as it is our first, she noted. 

“We, entrepreneurs should also really work hard to be at par with the outside world so that we don't have to go through departments but directly connect ourselves because the government is not entrepreneurs or business people. We, the entrepreneurs know the ground realities,” she added.

Relating her experience, Temsusenla of Fusion Store who put up a stall at the Airport Arrival & Departure Lounge, informed that sales was “very fruitful” though they put up stall just for two hours.

 “We also had a good interaction with the delegates,” she added. Souvenir items such as fridge magnets, tribal motifs, tribal dolls, Chizami Weaves items, and Raja mircha pickles were items that were mostly picked up by the delegates.  

‘Working on improving coordination’
Expressing that it was good for a start, Technology Consultant, Yanpvuo Kikon expressed happiness that the government was able to bring such an important summit to the state. However, he emphasised on  working to “improve coordination between the stakeholders - industry and government.”

 “Many entrepreneurs, who were actually doing big businesses were not in the list while some sketchy people who just know who to put up a good appearance and can speak smartly were included in the list of invitees,” he pointed out.  Accordingly, he underlined for “proper vetting” of genuine local entrepreneurs based on their revenue, impact, job creation etc., in order to create different categories of businesses - startups, MSME, innovators, etc.

On the other hand, he narrated that the Naga Tech Entrepreneurs were disheartened to learn that somebody from another state was selected to speak on their behalf at the summit.

 “We have no problem if an outsider represent us but he did not consult the local entrepreneurs,” Kikon conveyed. 

Moreover, he highlighted that the other speaker gave out “wrong information” that there is no BPO in the NE despite “the BPO in Kohima having 52 employees apart” and many young IT software engineers, content support engineers and creative talents who are “exporting services not just nationally but also to US, Canada, UK etc., by bringing in dollars into our local economy.”

“We also have startups like NagaEd, Tabernacle, Kemp Design and IT companies like NK Square, EXL Logic etc who are developing very complex software products; but we are not sure how this other smaller firm from another state was selected to speak on our behalf,” he added.

He further pointed out that, even the description about the potential about IT industry in Nagaland has been criticised and objected by the Naga Tech Community because “our core strength is not even mapped and communicated but the description about our IT industry potential does not even present our USP.”