One of the most impressive things about Microsoft as a company and its employees is the generosity and willingness to change the world through "Giving". The month of October is the "Giving" month, where the company as a whole encourages all employees to consider giving time, money and hope to causes of their choice. Last year, I was fortunate to drive the "Give" campaign for Microsoft Business Division under the leadership of Jeff Raikes and it gave me an insight into a gamut of things that inspire people to give and "not" give.

I’ve thought deeply and have been fortunate to seek advice from some of the people that I admire, on "giving", precisely "How much should I give, when should I give and why?" Although it is a very personal choice, there are several factors that drive this decision for every individual. I like Bill Clinton’s explanation the best. From his book – "Giving" :-

We all give for a combination of reasons, rooted in what we think about the world in which we live and what we think about ourselves. We give because we think it will help people today or give our children a better future; because we feel morally obligated to do so out of religious or ethical convictions; because someone we know and respect asked us; or because someone we find it more rewarding and more enjoyable than spending more money on material possessions or more time on recreation or work.

When people don’t give, the reasons are simply reverse. They don’t believe what they could do would make a difference, either because their resources are limited or they’re convinced efforts to change other people’s lives and conditions are futile. They don’t feel morally obligated to give. No one has ever asked them to do so. And they’ll enjoy life more if they keep their money and time for themselves and their families.

I personally want to make a significant socio-economic impact on the world by creating and nurturing organizations/companies through entrepreneurship. Should I wait till I find my companies and then start "giving" or should I start spending some time now during my formative years as an entrepreneur?

I was fortunate to get an opportunity to ask this question to Bill and Melinda Gates, who are making a gigantic impact. Bill started the answer with an example of Rockefeller, who as a devout Methodist devoted 10% of his income to church (and related social activities). Rockefeller was able to compound the remaining 90% of his income in a dramatic manner and was able to make an even bigger impact at a later stage in his life. Bill’s advice was to continue focusing on activities (primarily career activities), that I’m most passionate about for the next decade or two, while keeping myself involved (although not 100%) in the causes that matter to me or the causes that excite me.

One of my goals in life has been to put my energies to eliminate poverty from the world. I believe firmly in the power of microfinance and the work that Unitus is doing to achieve that. I hate poverty. I love Unitus.

Giving back is an essence of entrepreneurship and I invite you to "Give" to the cause of your choice (of course, I would love if you join me in eliminating poverty through Unitus) this October.

Let’s go out and change the world.


Technorati tags: Giving , poverty , microfinance , developing countries , Unitus , Microsoft Giving

Starting a company for the Indian (south Asian) market

Again a long hiatus from blogging..

After I wrote about "Can all US business models work in India?", I’ve had several insightful conversations about starting companies catering to the South Asian market (India in particular) with several friends and readers. With some inspiration from a good friend – Sumeet Solanki, we contemplated to discuss this on a more public forum and will hold a public discussion in the greater Seattle area with expert panelists through TiE, later this week. Here’s an excerpt from the event’s description..

It is no secret that the Indian, and the South Asian market in general, has been growing significantly in the past few years. Several entrepreneurs have leveraged this growth opportunity to launch products for the South Asian market. Typically the technology companies in India have focused on providing services to markets outside India. However, a recent trend has seen both entrepreneurs and large multinational companies offering new products and services for the South Asian market.   

We’ll discuss key aspects of starting a company in India to cater to the Indian market with an experienced panel of entrepreneurs, subject matter experts and consultants.   

1. Is the South Asian market ready? How big is it? How real is it?

2. Do you need to move to South Asia to start a company for their market?

3. Can you copy successful business models from the US and apply it for the Indian market?

4. What are the legal aspects of starting a company in South Asia?

5. How much and how easily accessible is venture capital for starting a company in South Asia?   

The event is on this Wednesday, September 26th in Cafe 9 in Microsoft’s Redmond campus.

Besides some examples listed above, I would love to be your proxy and discuss the issues that you would like to discuss and share it in a follow up post. Please let me know the questions that you would like to discuss through comments..



Technorati tags: India , Indian market