After a petrifying night bus ‘ride’ from Dharamsala to Manali, we had convinced Jen to get onto a 17 hour overnight minibus journey to Ladakh. “It’ll be fun, it’s cheap and we’ll go over the highest passes in the world”. Convinced,we paid our 800 rupee ticket, threw our bags on top of the minibus and jumped aboard, hoping to sleep, see some awesome sights and reach Ladakh the following day.
Two hours into our journey, our minibus battled through heavy rain, meandering up the narrow Rohtangla pass. The rain was causing landslides and we began feeling our wheels slip in the mud beneath us and hear rocks tumbling down the cliff side. Suddenly we came to a slippery stop, a massive boulder had fallen about 50 cars in front, blocking the traffic both ways. The path was so narrow we could neither go up nor down, so we had to wait for BRO (Border Roads Organisation) to come and clear the mess. “We could be here for hours or even days…” our driver sighed. We were on the side of a mountain, knee deep in mud and no idea how long we would be stuck. We huddled together in our minibus to brave the Himalayan cold and tried our best to fall asleep, not knowing how or when we might start moving again.
“Garma garam chai…pao bhaji…sandwich…” – We woke up at 5am to cries from the entrepreneurial street vendors who’d heard of the traffic jam and marched up 3 hours from the nearest town at the base of the mountain to set up their stalls. Hot tea and coffee, noodles, omelets, traditional Indian street foods, it was all available – at a seriously marked up rate – a 10 rupee bag of Maggi was being sold for 100 rupees!! Needless to say they were doing roaring trade as we all gobbled up the food and slurped the chai thanking our lucky stars that entrepreneurs had come to our rescue.
The benefits of entrepreneurship was all around us, those entrepreneurs who’d seen a need and made the hazardous mountain journey on foot carrying all their wears to make enough money in one day to feed their entire families for a month. We were stuck for 14 hours at the side of that mountain with the whole journey taking 42 hours… but it was thanks to entrepreneurs that our journey was infinitely more comfortable. That’s the thing about entrepreneurship – nothings impossible, everything’s a possibility…
Indeed, “entrepreneurs” can be seen everywhere – the villagers charging for the use of their toilets and facilities along the Inca trail in Peru, experiencing village life with the Humong Tribes of Laos, or paying 2 Cedis to a pair of schoolkids, with a plank of wood, for their help getting your jeep out of ditch in Ghana (they had been waiting patiently for the next “victim” of this ditch to drive down that road!).
With the global recession still affecting us, Governments are asking us to be more entrepreneurial, and with Global Entrepreneurship Week encouraging us to share our ideas with counterparts around the world and “go forth and get on with it” we should all be taking lessons from these entrepreneurs who are guided by both personal and social causes, those who start out with small ideas, but make them work and get bigger and better.
We all know great ideas begin small so we’re launching The Superseed Challenge (www.superseedchallenge.com), which starts with a very small item, a Seed. This unique charity event, inspired by Kyle MacDonald’s one red paper clip (http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/) sees challengers starting with a Moringa Tree Seed, and within a month, using their passion and drive to trade that seed for other items until they reach something of considerably more value, the final item is then auctioned off and the proceeds donated to an extremely good cause,
The Moringa Tree (www.themoringatree.org.uk), a Social Enterprise which run’s music festivals across the globe to promote real music and support local communities and is working to build important infrastructure in Busua, Ghana.
19 year old Jamie Dunn is one of the challengers using his entrepreneurial skills to blag, borrow or trade his seed throughout November, you can follow his journey on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/JDEntrepreneur or sign up yourself at www.superseedchallenge.com
And who knows…maybe those street vendors will set up permanent drive thru’s on the Rohtangla pass by next year…?!
Written by Swatee Deepak @swatee