CHANGE leaders do great things, and often that is all we know about them. Here we want to get a different glimpse of the personalities that constitute the development space. Every month we get one leader to answer four questions, not necessarily about their work, but about themselves. This week we catch up with NEICHUTE DOULO, CEO of Entrepreneurs Associates.
A former lecturer in Economics at Baptist College in Nagaland, Doulo left his job in 2000 and launched Entrepreneurs Associates (EA) to help youth in the region look beyond government jobs and start their own enterprises. EA focus on building the entrepreneurship skills of young people in the Northeastern states of India and create a world based on inclusion and equity.
Doulo won ‘Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2016’ given by the Schwab Foundation. He has helped create more than 15,000 jobs across the Northeast in the last 18 years.
Small Change: Why does this cause matter to you? Why now in particular?
Neichute Doulo: For me, entrepreneurship is very important. It’s the cause that started this movement and the organisation. I believe it can empower people to stand on their own feet and become problem solvers, and not just complain about their circumstance. I like to identify this as a high leadership quality. There is freedom in entrepreneurship to control your own life; and trust me, being independent is a relieving power to have!
Entrepreneurship is very important in a place like Nagaland. The state is strategically located between two great civilisations: the Asian civilisation and the South East Asian civilisation – the brown and yellow race, as people call it. It is in this meeting point that Nagas live. If we don’t have an entrepreneurial mind, we will miss the opportunity to become catalysts and empower ourselves, and others.
SC: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
ND: If I could have a superpower, it would be to change people’s mindset- to unlearn what they know now. I have witnessed that the current younger generation in Nagaland know things that are not relevant or helpful for them. Also, the current education system in the third world focuses on industrial labour with insufficient preparation for the new world. Graduates leave college with a mindset of dependency, to work in a job for their lifetime, which are government jobs, especially in Nagaland.
I would also like to help people to think and realise that they control their own destiny and not to blame society, parents, or government for it.
SC: Could you give us one surprising fact about you or something you are really bad at?
ND: I grew up in a village and I am the first generation literate!
At present as the CEO and Co-ordinator of Entrepreneurs Associates, I aspire to usher in a paradigm shift of mindset from habitual dependence on government grants and subsidies among the youths in Nagaland to that of self-reliance.
On the contrary, because of my work principles (of self-reliance), it becomes very difficult for me to ask for grants and donations from well-wishers and funders for the work I want to execute and expand. There are few external partners and donors we have worked together for many years, but because of this conflict of values within myself, I have not helped the organisation grow bigger with grants and donations which actually could have accelerated our growth.
SC: If you could invite three famous people, living or dead, to your dinner party, who would they be and why?
ND: The three people I would want to have a conversation with are Jack Ma because I share a lot of his perspectives, Dr. Manmohan Singh because of his economic policies in shaping the economy of India from that of a socialist way to that of
capitalism and Late Mr. A.Z. Phizo because I admire his vision of uniting the starkly diverse 70-odd Naga tribes spread across India and Myanmar.
If you would like to help 100 Naga women street vendors attain financial stability, click here.