KCA (Kanara Catholic Association) has started 2021 with a contrarian approach that is not only unique, but demonstrated ‘out of the box’ thinking, something that is desperately needed in Covid times. In collaboration with KONCAB, Kanara Entrepreneurs (KE) Bengaluru and FKCA, KCA conducted a day-long programme for entrepreneurs and start-up enthusiasts, with the primary objective of encouraging the community to start their own business. Though this may come as a surprise to many due to the trials and tribulations being faced by one and all during these Covid times, when established businesses are struggling to survive, the entire approach to actually starting your business enumerated by these organizations was innovative and illuminating. The program started with invoking divine blessing with the symbolic lighting of the lamp by KCA President Hilma Roach, KE President Charles Gomes, KONCAB President Arun Fernandes and FKCA Chairman Silvian Noronha. Hilma Roach in her keynote address emphasized on the need to encourage members of the community to begin their own business and start-ups. She also mentioned that organizations like KCA, KONCAB, KE and FKCA are willing to provide the required support and guidance to all budding entrepreneurs from the community.
The Mangalurean Catholic community is projected as a non-business community generally since most of them are found employed overseas or in the IT sector locally. However, this general belief is totally misplaced and out of date, whereas the ground realities and statistics show that the community has produced very successful entrepreneurs so much so, that there are organizations like KE catering exclusively to the community members who are into business, entrepreneurial ventures and start-ups. Prominent business leaders like Adrian D’Souza (Co-Founder Deccan Group) and Errol Fernandes (CMD Ferns Estates & Developers), addressed the audience. Adrian gave an Introduction to Entrepreneurship and mentioned that most of the time key points of profitability and scalability are ignored, in the rush to start-up. Errol on the other hand spoke on the importance of common sense, dedication and passion, which are the some of the key requirements to become a successful entrepreneur.
Post this, a Panel Discussion on Support System for Budding Entrepreneurs was moderated by Vivek Cornelio (Communications Architect at WEconsult) along with Charles Gomes ( Founder CAD Pharma) from the Pharma Industry, Mark D’Souza a renowned CA and Financial Expert, Nisha Rebello (Director Metters International) a second generation entrepreneur and Dion D’sa (Cofounder Examplay) a first generation entrepreneurs as the panellists. This interactive session resonated a lot of important and positive information on different aspects such as handling matters as a first time entrepreneur, challenges of working in a family run business, financial structuring and ethics and the do’s and don’ts to be followed while continuing with business during difficult times.
This was followed by GenNow entrepreneurs Neil Rodrigues and Santosh Sequeira sharing their entrepreneurial journey as founders of their respective establishments and how they could make it big even at a young age. Santhosh Sequeira of VTT Travels imparted real time, personal examples of how one should set a goal and then never give up on that goal, until it is achieved. He fascinated the audience by opening up about the challenges he faced to get hold of his first vehicle and what measures he took at every stage to convert that to a fleet of over 300 vehicles that his company operates, as of today. Neil Rodrigues co-founder of The Konkan Restaurant took the audience through the path he has trodden and the trails he faced in the journey, to make it big. Both Santosh and Neil gave some insights on perseverance and building a strong customer base that has kept him going, even during the difficult times of Covid.
Post lunch, Laveena D’Souza of Riya Interiors Pvt Ltd, spoke on how she transformed to become a successful business woman by keeping the core values of customer centric attitude, no compromise on quality and the importance of networking.
Nikhil Gonsalves, founder of INGO Electric spoke of how he left the corporate sector to get into the electric vehicle segment and how his idea was incubated at IIM Bangalore, which helped him raise funds from various grants and government schemes.
Pramod D’Souza who runs an investment firm Eagle10 Ventures, spoke on funding start-ups, angel investments and evaluation criteria that investors consider for funding a start-up.
All in all, it was a wealth of talent on display with the best in the industry sharing their experiences, value-adds and suggestions for anyone from the community wanting to bite into the start-up pie.
Stalls selling and promoting various items from crystal glassware, ethnic jewellery, leather apparels, toys and stationery, scented candles, electric vehicles, homemade foods, health supplements, door and windows, spices, spyware solutions were on display and well patronized by the audience. In addition there were stalls serving authentic Mangalorean dishes that could tingle one’s taste buds.
The program concluded with one to one mentorship and guidance provided by the Lead Members of KE, to seeking members of the audience who were interested in venturing into business and start-ups.
The vote of thanks was proposed by KONCAB President and KE Director Arun Fernandes. The compere of the day Roshan Menezes kept the audience cheerful with his wit and pep talk as he unfolded the series of events.
The day highlighted the sterling efforts KCA, KE, KONCAB and FKCA to harness this wealth of talent to the advantage of the community which deserves kudos to their vision and efforts.