THEORY OF CHANGE
Revive Kashmir’s vision is to see an economically developed community of Kashmiris. We believe that such a vision can be achieved by working on our three mission elements:
Facilitate knowledge and competence via capacity building and skills development
Foster a strong business ecosystem through strategic collaborations, innovative delivery models, positive work culture changes, and thought leadership
Enable access to markets, capital, technology, and networks
INCUBATING ENTREPRENEURS IN KASHMIR
To build capacity and skills, Revive Kashmir is working to train entrepreneurs and equip them to succeed in an increasingly connected global economy. In the Spring of 2018, we conducted training workshops over six half-day sessions for six weeks. In the first year, we inducted 30 Kashmir based entrepreneurs who have been in business for more than a year to provide learning tools and frameworks to accelerate their business growth. The cohort of participants learned practical tools, systems, and methods to scale their existing businesses through training with entrepreneurs and experts from North America as well as in-class facilitation by local leaders for hands-on training. To generate interest, encourage participation, and reward competence, the workshop series culminated in the award of acceleration capital of $7,000 to the top three companies in the cohort. Each company presented their business growth plans to a panel of local and international experts.
Following the workshop, the 2018 cohort has been meeting on a monthly basis to discuss progress and lessons learned. Revive Kashmir has been hosting ongoing “continuing education” discussions and frequent follow ups through webinars and conference calls. The ongoing interactions serve to reinforce key lessons learned and build stronger bonds within the 2018 cohort. In 2019, another group of local entrepreneurs will be selected for such a workshop. The alumni of 2018 workshop will actively participate in delivering training and support for the incoming class of 2019. Through this process, we intend to create a fraternity of Kashmiri entrepreneurs who are well versed in operating and running successful businesses and can compete with their counterparts from other countries at an international level. This fraternity of the entrepreneurs will help create a sustainable support structure for the knowledge economy in Kashmir and encourage innovation along with a strong work ethic.
The post-workshop follow ups with the 2018 cohort also serve to connect the Kashmiri diaspora with local businesses to offer expert guidance, mentorship, collaborations, and investments. This model will allow us to facilitate access to markets and capital, while building a network of businesses that support each other.
KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY & ENTREPRENEURSHIP NETWORK (KEEN)
In an opinion piece titled “Making Entrepreneurship Contagious” in Knowledge@Wharton, Rottenberg and Bierly demonstrate that the best incubator for entrepreneurship occurs when entrepreneurs form close networks and nurture fellow risk-takers with their experience and resources. The physical network of entrepreneurs will have a virtual incubation space through connections on social media. Revive Kashmir has formed a Facebook group called Knowledge Economy and Entrepreneurial Network Kashmir (KEEN Kashmir) to nurture and strengthen the cause of general entrepreneurship and create a vibrant knowledge based private sector in Kashmir.
The purpose of the group is to:
Create a virtual space of trust and collaboration between various individuals and organizations engaged in entrepreneurship, investment, and private sector development
Provide the Kashmiri diaspora and other interested parties with opportunities to invest and partner with local entrepreneurs
Allow successful Kashmir-based entrepreneurs to share ideas and processes that have worked locally
Share world class tools, methodologies, and management practices to elevate the quality of products and services created by local entrepreneurs
Give aspiring local entrepreneurs an opportunity to ask questions and request mentoring with established business leaders
Facilitate connections between local entrepreneurs and the Kashmiri diaspora, who can help make business development referrals and connections
Ultimately, this virtual incubator will translate into physical incubator and accelerator spaces in Kashmir where local entrepreneurs can use common services, resources, guidance, and mentorship to help them establish and grow their start-ups.
In addition to promoting a culture of entrepreneurship through our training workshops and cohorting process, Revive Kashmir has rolled out a grassroots “pay it forward” interest free capital injection effort to enable micro-businesses. After the floods of 2014 that devastated Kashmir’s economy, we started helping small businesses by providing them with interest free loans to recover tools of production that were destroyed in the floods and bridge gaps in their working capital needs. Typical recipients have a livelihood centered around an auto-rickshaw, poultry farm, supply of dairy, a fruit cart, or something similar. These small businesses typically return the qarz-e-hasnah interest-free loan within a year and the returned money is loaned to more small businesses, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of small amounts of capital enabling multiple grassroots small businesses.
We also believe in empowering disadvantaged individuals who are left out of the workforce due to disabilities like visual impairment. Project Noor (“light”) focuses on uplifting visually impaired individuals by training them with a variety of skills they need to re-enter the workforce. We also equip them with tools so that they can learn to become self-sufficient over time and live dignified lives.
All these projects are geared to enable small and medium businesses, equip them with knowledge and tools, and help nurture a community of entrepreneurs. This fuels economic development and spreads prosperity and wealth for a better and just society.