Speaking at an interactive session on start-ups organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Ward, chief commercial officer of the US Consulate, Kolkata, said that the gradual growth of entrepreneurship in the city was an encouraging sign.
“When you look at where job growth is, where the creation of new business and any economy is, it is critical that micro, small and medium-size enterprises come up. So it is very encouraging from my perspective as a former business leader of the United States and now as a diplomat to see more emphasis being put on the creation of incubators and other institution organisations that can help support the eco-system for entrepreneurs here in east India,” he said, talking to The Indian Express on the sidelines of the event.
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Asked about the vacant offices in Sector V, which is known as the Silicon Valley of Kolkata, Ward said he was not authorised to make recommendations to the Indian government. “It is more for the Indian business community, the Indian government, the West Bengal business community and government to discuss and make decisions. For example, this morning I was invited to a programme put on by the American Chamber of Commerce and we were talking about these issues. So I encouraged the local business community to work with the government to figure what needs to be done to help and encourage growth here,” he added.
Ward said one might think why he was speaking for start-ups in Kolkata when his duty was primarily to promote investment in the US. “What I want to tell entrepreneurs here is don’t restrict to selling in India and try to spread the business globally. Later, you might need some components from the US,” he said.
Talking about the requirements of a successful start-up, he said that the right eco-system for innovation and entrepreneurship, a mature financial market, and a world class education system is required.
Referring to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to be held next year, he said it was encouraging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama were in their last meeting very happy to work together to decide that next year’s summit would be in India and that though the city had not been decided upon so far, “we will see that east India has a presence”.
However, speaking at the same event, Subhranghsu Sanyal, CEO, IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, said that the eco-system for start-ups was lacking in eastern India and 90 per cent of start-ups fail to last beyond 24 months.