Consider the following facts –
- In most countries, at least in India, up to 75% of economic activities are carried out by the unorganized sector
- The unorganized sector also generates up to 80% of employment opportunities – opportunities for even those unqualified / unskilled youth who will not be “employable” in the formal sector / government sector.
- Yet, it is the unorganized sector that is constantly under the pressure of SURVIVAL and COMPETITION.
The task seemed to be complex enough, yet worthy enough to take up.
Challenges & End-points
When our client approached with an idea (of introducing ETHICAL PRACTICES for conducting business) as a solution to address this crisis, the end-points to be figured out were –
- Are the suggested ten points in the framework for ethical business practicable in the first place?
- If yes, then; it will be a matter of change of the VALUES they work with. What process can be set-up to make it happen. Is the ‘market’ even ready for such process which will be slow-paced?
- What will be the check-point for “ethical conduct”?
- Will the business entity be ethical; or the person who is conducting the business?
- How / Who will certify the ethical business practices?
- What will be the method for scaling-up and reaching out? Can there be a business model around it?
- What are the competing ideas about BUSINESS ETHICS (in theory, in practice in the organized sector)? Is the proposed framework one step ahead of these prevalent ideas?
- What are other social sensitivities associated with introducing such a framework for unorganized sector?
It took about six months of research and discussions to evolve the solution. The process itself was quite uplifting one; and included –
- ACCEPTING the fact that even if it is a challenging task, it NEEDS to be taken up, and it is NOT IMPOSSIBLE one. It showed positive indications of being POSSIBLE in our pilot studies which indicated that small business owners are keen to find (if not ‘to learn’ as such) the techniques to improve their business. Their expression of desire to adopt new ideas/techniques was not like that of an student, but it definitely exists.
It was delight to see that the proposed framework came packed with 225 micro discussions / articles to help them in this area. It is currently available in a book format; and we have suggested to bring in conversational videos / live sessions also.
- On the question of WHO ASSESSES (?), we agreed that assessment is not really as important as the DECISION to conduct business in ethical manner was, and also the PROCESS which will involve self-correction on 10-point framework (presented below). Hence, we have recommended a self-assessment to be placed in due course (after about 4 months of launching the Framework).
- On the question of whether it is practicable at all (?) – a weekly group mechanism has been evolved. Group can accomplish much more than individual. Coming together in some form will given the SMB owners a sense of being ‘organized’.
- To keep it all together a shared identity, a brand NAITIK has been evolved. Also, a website that will feature a FORUM to interconnect the community in seamless manner.
- For the viability of reach-out and popularization of the ethical practices, a DIRECTORY model has been suggested. Hence, the Naitik platform will become what we can call “JUST DIAL OF ETHICAL ENTREPRENEURS’. Of course, the pricing itself has to be ethical. FYI, it will be about 6% of what JD charges; yes, just 6%.
- In the pipeline is also a feature to introduce a ‘marketplace’ because for the MSME entrepreneurs it is not viable to have an independent tech infrastructure.
- It has been considered a task worthy also because the consumers are exposed to and exploited by unethical market / business practices on 24×7 basis. Hence, CONSUMER EDUCATION has been kept as one of the top priorities. A handbook is being compiled to educate them on WHY CUSTOMERS MUST DEAL ONLY WITH ETHICAL SMALL BUSINESSES as far as possible.
Additionally customers are also being given a 10-point plan for financial self-discipline and gullibility avoidance.
Also, a series of articles and video cases shall be put in place to educate customers on ethical and unethical market events.
The 10-point Framework for Ethical Business
It is interesting to read the naitik’s list of 10-point Framework for ethical business. As simple as it looks, it takes determination to actually live these values. The 10 points are –
- मन्तव्य ग्राहकों के लिए सेवाभाव, अपनत्व और सम्मान का हो Intent of enterprise to be of service, affinity and respect for customers
- जब आवश्यक हो ग्राहकों को शिक्षित और संरक्षित करना Educating and protecting customers when necessary
- भ्रष्टाचार और अनावश्यक हिंसा के लिए स्वीकार्यता नहीं Non-acceptance for corruption and unnecessary violence
- धन-पूँजी की समझ और उद्यमिता की समझ सामानांतर चलते हैं Fair understanding of capital-money and entrepreneurship go hand in hand
- उद्यमिता प्रत्यक्ष-अप्रत्यक्ष रूप से प्रकृति का पोषण और संवर्धन करे Entrepreneurship should directly or indirectly nurture and preserve the Nature
- विस्तार, गुणवत्ता और सहयोग; किन्तु अनावश्यक आक्रामकता नहीं Scale, quality and collaboration; but not unwarranted aggression
- नेतृत्व की निरंतरता हेतु उद्यमी परिवार उपनिषद् की पद्धति में रहें Entrepreneurs’ family should follow the Upanishad method for continuity of leadership
- वैभव और समृद्धि, साधना के विषय हैं, भोग के विषय नहीं Abundance and prosperity are matters of Sadhana, not of enjoyment
- प्रत्येक भूमिका में प्रगति हेतु उद्यमिता एक अनिवार्य चारित्रिक गुण है Entrepreneurship is an essential trait for progress in every role
- उद्यमिता क्षेत्रीय सांस्कृतिक-आर्थिक आत्मनिर्भरता हेतु अनिवार्य है Entrepreneurship is imperative for regional cultural-economic self-reliance