Changing the narrative of NagalandFrom remote, disconnected and alien, to progressive, entrepreneurial and inclusive.
hat are the first thoughts that come to your mind when you think of Nagaland? Music, food, festivals, traditional weaves; anything else? Does entrepreneurship, hospitality, safety, respect for women, beauty figure in that list? These are words that I have now begun to associate with when I think of Nagaland. My experiences when I visited Kohima a few months back are firmly etched in my memory. The purpose of our trip was to meet this amazing organization – Entrepreneurs Associates – a legendary organization that has been doing some fantastic work in the region. EA’s founder Neichute’s belief is that entrepreneurship has the potential to change the face of the region. And that’s exactly what EA has been doing for over a few decades now. Nurturing, grooming, handholding, incubating and funding local Naga entrepreneurs – helping them create jobs and wealth for their region.
The journey to Kohima from the nearest airport in Dimapur could have been strenuous. For travel sick people like me and my colleague Sanjana – this journey could have thrown us out of gear. For some reason though, the beauty of the place had us so captivated that we forgot all about our car sickness and just soaked in the blue skies and the lush greenery around us. This was definitely a sign of things to come. When we reached Kohima we were welcomed warmly by Shiroi and her other colleagues of EA. I was already in awe of the work that they did, but when I saw the committed team members – I realized how much hard work would have gone into building this great organization.
We visited a few amazing entrepreneurs who were being supported by EA and were blown over by the passion and drive that had been instilled in them. While we were reveling in this energy and enjoying the beauty of the place, Shiroi mentioned to us that there were more entrepreneurs waiting at their office to greet us. At EA’s office, we were greeted by this amazing bunch of entrepreneurs, across generations, who were supported by EA. Each one spoke to us about why the work that EA was doing was of prominence and why we should partner with them.
One of the entrepreneurs I met was Kevimedo. I remember how passionately he spoke about what he wanted to do and how he planned to expand his business. What stood out about Kevimedo was the fact that he never reached out to his family for backing or support for his business. He wanted to do this, all on his own. And in his few years of the entrepreneurial journey, he has seen his family come around to now accepting his entrepreneurial journey.
I was amazed to hear his story and it helped me backtrack to what Neichute and Shiroi were sharing about the norm in Nagaland, which EA is trying to fight. They are trying to wean young people away from government jobs and showing them alternative options. Since seeking government employment is an age-old tradition, an entrepreneurial venture is met with a lot of criticism and not often accepted.
Neichute and his team have tirelessly worked on creating this culture and young rock stars like Kevimedo are outcomes of this hard work. Our trip to Nagaland was short. But the memories I bring back from there can take care of me for a lifetime. On the day of our return, we had breakfast with Neichute and Shiroi. Over this sumptuous meal, we discussed how this partnership between Rang De and Entrepreneurs Associates is not just about funding loans. It is about fulfilling dreams and helping young millennials like Kevimedo become role models and job creators for their community. And as Rang De social investors, investing in entrepreneurs such as Kevimedo can help create that. Perhaps, gradually change the narrative too!
There’s a lot more about Nagaland that can’t all be squeezed into this post. Do keep an eye out for our upcoming series on #NagalandDiaries
Also, we happen to be helping Akhriebou Linyu, an aspiring retailpreneur raise funds to help her finance a massive revamp of her retail store in Nagaland. Invest in enterprising Akhriebou today: rangde.in/i/akhriebou-618