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Tag: entrepreneurship

Livemint Q+A: Entrepreneruship in India

This interview was originally published on

Tarun Khanna at the Jaipur Literature Festival 2015. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann professor at Harvard Business School, where he has studied and worked with multinational and indigenous companies and investors in emerging markets worldwide. He is also Harvard University’s director of South Asia Institute. Khanna has led several courses on strategy, corporate governance, and international business over the years. He currently teaches in Harvard College’s General Education on entrepreneurship in South Asia.

Apart from teaching, Khanna is also actively involved in the start-up ecosystem. In November, Khanna co-founded a Bengaluru-based business incubator, Axilor Ventures. Khanna is also co-founder at Chaipoint, a chain of 70 tea stalls in Delhi and Bengaluru that he started with students about 18 months ago. On the third day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), Khanna spoke in an interview about the Narendra Modi government’s engagement with scholars and about incubating start-ups in India. Edited excerpts:

You’ve been voicing concerns about India’s economic progress prior to the new government’s formation. Have your views changed after six months of the Modi government?

There is already a much more concerted attempt (by the new government) to solicit inputs from different people than I ever saw from the previous government, in a much more systematic way. My interpretation from the outside (I’m not part of this government in any way) is that policymakers are reaching out for thoughts from other people and trying to get diversity of views expressed as inputs of their policymaking process.

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Creating a better India

Harvard US India Initiative“We want a better India,” reads the slogan for the Harvard US-India Initiative’s (HUII) Annual Conference in New Delhi on January 9 and 10, 2015.

HUII is an undergraduate student-run organization at Harvard that aims to create dialogue between Indian and American youth to address some of India’s most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues today.

The conference, which is cosponsored by SAI, is set to take place at the Shangri La Hotel, and is the largest yet for the organization. It boasts an impressive lineup of speakers and panel topics, including ‘Liberal Arts and Conservative Societies,’ ‘Politicians and the People,’ ‘More Artists or More Dentists,’ ‘Human Rights in India,’ ‘The Economics of Rural India,’ and ‘Science and Society.’

Keynote speakers include Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister of State with Independent Charge for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy in the Government of India, Mirai Chatterjee, Director of Social Security, SEWA, and Shri Jairam Ramesh, MP Rajya Sabha, former Cabinet Minister.

SAI recently talked to Namrata Narain, Harvard College ’15, one of the organizers of the event, to learn more about how HUII is working to increase discussions on important issues by connecting young academic communities in India and the US.

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Tarun Khanna discusses emerging economies in Dhaka

On August 19, Professor Tarun Khanna spoke on Developing Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Emerging Economies. The event was a joint initiative of the Harvard University South Asia Institute (SAI) and BRAC University, Dhaka.

Professor Khanna spoke at the BRAC centre, Mohakhali, where the audience comprised distinguished Bangladeshi academics, entrepreneurs and university students.

Professor Khanna’s talk focused on the importance of developing ecosystems and the critical role played by entrepreneurs in furthering a nation’s economy. “Entrepreneurs in emerging markets must compensate for limitations of the environment in which they find themselves,” Professor Khanna asserted.  He also added, “the same limitations, however, can be sources of opportunity.”

Illustrating this point, Professor Khanna spoke about two entrepreneurial ventures initiated by his former students at Harvard Business School- Chai Point and Aspiring Minds. Chai Point outlets are tea shops in Delhi and Bangalore which source the best tea leaves from across India and adhere to the highest hygienic standards when preparing tea.

Aspiring Minds, on the other hand, assesses work-readiness through a standardized test called AMCAT (Aspiring Minds Computer Adaptive Test.) During his talk, Professor Khanna also highlighted the importance of students and young entrepreneurs having an ‘entrepreneurial bent of mind.’ and ‘not being risk averse.’

Professor Syed Saad Andaleeb, Vice-chancellor of BRAC University and Professor Rezaur Rezzak, Director of BRAC University’s Centre For Entrepreneurship Development (CED) were also present and addressed the audience.

-By Reeti Roy, India Research Center, Harvard Business School

Media coverage:

Harvard Professor Stresses the Centrality of Developing an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Bangladesh
Time Watch

Discussion on entrepreneurial ecosystem
Daily Sun

Harvard scholar talks on developing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Bangladesh

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Fall Course: Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems

Societies of the World 47
Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems

Meeting time: Fall 2014, Monday and Wednesday, 3:30-5, and a weekly section to be arranged.
Location: Sever Hall 113 (Harvard Yard)
Instructor: Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute & Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School

Offered jointly at HBS (1266), HSPH (GHP 568), HKS (PED-338), HLS (543) and HGSE (A-819).

Visit the course’s iSite.

Course overview:
South Asia is home to two of the world’s seven billion people. The primary objective of the course is to engage students with the modern day challenges affecting South Asia, and to examine a range of entrepreneurial attempts to solve these problems. The course focuses on several categories of social and economic problems faced by the countries of South Asia, with specific focus on the realms of Education, Health, Financial Inclusion, and Urbanization.

The goal is to understand ways in which entrepreneurial action can effectively tackle major socioeconomic problems in South Asia, by combining knowledge of historical causes, qualitative and quantitative evidence, and context-specific knowledge of the commonalities and differences across South Asian countries. No prior knowledge of South Asia is required.

“The idea of the course is to bring together an eclectic collection of students from all corners of Harvard, from the undergraduate population as well as all of the graduate schools, and get them focused in interdisciplinary teams on some of the contemporary problems that are plaguing South Asia.

“I think the pressing need of the day is to be clever about solving some of the most basic elementary problems and I am a big believer in entrepreneurship,” says Tarun Khanna, course instructor.

“The room for creativity is simply immense,” Khanna says. “As you know, the problems really are intractable. In a region that has almost 2 million people with endemic poverty, so the opportunity and satisfaction of doing something that is both cool, technically feasible, and can see a dramatic effect, is really quite satisfying to everyone, and a lot of fun. “

The course will be listed at HBS, FAS, HSPH, HGSE, HLS, HMS, HKS and, time permitting, other Harvard faculties. Last year, the course attracted students from all over the University, including a number of advanced undergraduates. The mixture of student backgrounds is crucial for its success.

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World beckons more open Asian businesses

The following article appeared in Nikkei Asian Review on April 3, 2014. It features the work of Tarun Khanna, Director of the South Asia Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.

TOKYO — Asian companies are on the march around the world, with some offering innovative ideas that challenge rivals in the U.S. and other advanced economies. But to succeed globally, they need to become more open to outsiders.

    Tarun Khanna, who teaches strategy at Harvard Business School, was among a group of people who toured a new hospital in the Caribbean.  Health City Cayman Islands, on Grand Cayman, opened on Feb. 25. The visitors were mostly U.S. health care professionals, but the professor joined them to learn more about the hospital’s Indian operator, Narayana Health. Khanna began looking into Narayana Health in 2003. He was the first scholar to examine the company’s innovative business model.

     Grand Cayman is only a 90-minute flight from Miami. The hospital, which specializes in cardiology and orthopedics, has an ambitious plan to increase its number of beds from over 100 today to 2,000 within a decade to meet high demand from American patients.

Click here to read the full article.

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