Almost all micro business success is dependent on local political patronage because of a number of factors - access to loans, access to customer base, access to land/water/electricity, sanction to set up shop in lucrative but illegal spots, easing of financial pressures resulting from constant bribe giving, protection from incessant harassment by police and other regulatory officials, etc.
But does the more indulgent (or desperate?) political patronage during election time provide especially good business opportunities for micro entrepreneurs? Can this be systematically capitalized upon? Should I be disseminating information of this to our Micro Business Centre's slum-dweller beneficiaries?
Can the Gujarat model that has clearly not just produced Ambanis but also the Mavji Ahirs as described below, also work in Orissa? Does the Gujarat model have the potential to change not just large scale industries and the upper strata of the Indian economy, but also the micro & small enterprise (MSE) sector in India? Mr. Modi in his campaign speech in Orissa mentioned how it was a shame that Oriyas migrated to Gujarat in search of better economic lives. Can election-centred business and poverty alleviation strategies change that?
Is the "Tea Stall" model described below replicable, if not scalable? How do I replicate it in a state such as Orissa where the same political party - indeed, the same political person - has been in power for the last 15 years, and where the party symbol is a conch? Election or no election, what micro business models could possibly be built around a conch? Is my facetiousness misplaced?
Just look at the story below from The Hindu. The micro-entrepreneur described in it went from making Rs 4000 a month to Rs 60,000 a month just by paying attention to electoral dynamics, and approaching those enterprising politicos who're looking for opportunities to make a dramatic, theatrical, symbolic point. It's not the specific tea stall business that's the business strategy in the following case, it's the ability to seek political patronage from the appropriate persons at a crucial point during election campaigns.
For the enterprising, ‘tea stall politics’ makes good business
- The Hindu, February 24th 2014
Distraught and listless, Mavji Ahir, 25, was scrounging for a job in a small village in Kutch district. Mavji of Ratnal village could hardly make ends meet with what he earned from running errands for retail shops. A friend then advised him to turn entrepreneur, but the young man did not have the resources to strike out on his own. After much consternation, he went to Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Vasan Ahir, who belongs to the same village, seeking help. The Minister asked him to start a tea stall named after Chief Minister Narendra Modi, and arranged a small space on the Anjar-Bhuj highway for him to start business.
After he launched the “Modi tea stall” three months ago, Mavji started making a killing within a week, pouring out 300 cups of tea every day. The tea stall became an instant hit not just at Ratnal but also in some 15 villages in Anjar taluka, says Trikam Ahir, son of Mr. Vasan Ahir. He told The Hindu that people taking the highway stopped by for a cuppa that costs Rs. 5. “What made the stall work well was the quality of the tea …,” he said.
Mavji said, “I had no permanent job and barely managed to earn Rs. 4,000 a month, but now I am making a cool profit of Rs. 2,500 a day.” On the day he opened the tea stall, he served tea free to all his customers.
Mavji Ahir’s is not the only case. Scores of NaMo (acronym for Narendra Modi) tea stalls have come up across Ahmedabad. The Chief Minister even launched his “Chai Pe Charcha” campaign recently from a tea stall, connecting with 1,000 centres in 300 cities across the country through digital technology. It was a comment of the senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar about Mr. Modi’s humble beginnings as a tea boy that led to a BJP campaign surrounding the brew.