Yanpvuo Kikon talks about beating taboo on necessity of having government job and opening up to entrepreneurship, jobs in private sector

Kohima: Kikon says, “Proving yourself to be a reliable person goes a long way to opening doors and take you higher!”

BY | Tuesday, 16 May, 2023
Yanpvuo Kikon, Naga entrepreneur

Unemployment has been a major issue faced in Nagaland and finding a solution to the problem has always been far-fetched. It is increasing in magnitude due to multiple problems prevalent in the system. Employment opportunities are limited. Low proficiency in terms of both technical knowledge and the required skills to enter the world of work may be contributing to the problem. Studies revealed that main factors behind this are the dependance of educated unemployed youths on government jobs and the limited exposure in our state.

Nagaland Tribune is pleased to present Yanpvuo Kikon as our first guest in the ‘Interview’ section to talk about beating the taboo on the necessity of having a government job and opening up to entrepreneurship and private jobs.

He has 15+ years in technology industry including working for world’s leading IT and consulting companies like Accenture and EY (Ernst & Young), specializing in eGovernance and Government Reforms having served as Senior Government Advisory Consultant to Government of Goa, Uttarakhand and also with the National Institute for Smart Government and Smart Cities Mission. He is also the founder of multiple business ventures including Kley Enterprise (Westside), East West Logistics (Bluedart DHL iko) and Kohima Lead Generation Center (STPI) employing over 130 local youths.

NT: We don’t have the latest figure in youth unemployment but as seen in the 2022 data under the PLFS, they highlighted a concerning scenario among the youth in 15-29 years age group, with nearly one-third of them unemployed. We are never far from having the highest unemployment rate in the country. What is your thought on this? Is it because there are not enough jobs in our state or where are we going wrong?

Yanpvuo Kikon: This problem emerges from being uneducated and ignorant about private industry.

Jobs are supposed to be created by the private industry and not by the government. Government is only supposed to create a conducive ecosystem for businesses to establish and create jobs for the youth.

I heard a parent say, “He doesn’t do anything, he is just a journalist.”

In Nagaland a person is not considered as “employed” unless he/she is employed in the government. Until the time this primitive mindset changes, those who are self-employed or working in private sector will always be considered as unemployed. We need to realise that a person who is self-employed and not an employee of somebody else is more dignified because he is self-reliant and independent!

Yanpvuo Kikon during his days at Accenture in Gurgaon (Gurugram) in 2014

NT: You had always stressed on life beyond government jobs in Nagaland. How can we convince the parents who still only have vision for their children chasing government jobs?

Yanpvuo Kikon: Since we are still a very close-knit tribal society, mostly hailing from a rural background, our parents would always desire the applause, validation and felicitation of their fellow villagers and relatives. Hence, it becomes very stressful, discouraging and challenging as a young aspiring entrepreneur to go against the wishes of our parents or somebody whose dream is to work in a multi-billion dollar company like Google or Accenture. We have seen so many talented and gifted young Nagas from my generation who grew up to become depressed alcoholics by the time they reach late 30’s just because they could not pursue their dreams in unconventional sectors beyond government job but had to compromise on their aspirations just to please their parents and their fellow villagers who sometimes set lower standards for everyone in our society by only felicitating and glorifying government jobs.

We just need to be rebellious sometimes! Our parents & relatives may ridicule, and our fellow villagers may not acknowledge us but after 10-15 years of struggle when you earn much more than your friends and relatives, you will certainly earn back the honour of your parents and villagers. They themselves will ask you to employ their children in your company.

Another way is to earn their confidence is to give them some local examples of successful people in private sector or business and use them as inspiration. But anything in life, seeing is believing hence we have to prove ourselves practically to earn trust and respect of anybody, be it our parents or anybody. Initially everybody will doubt you, but if you have a realistic approach towards achieving your goal and work hard towards it for many years then one day you will certainly earn the respect of those who doubt you.

Most of our village organisations have not fully understood industry and entrepreneurship, hence they will not be able to comprehend success beyond government jobs. Today we are witnessing the emergence of successful and wealthy Nagas who are from private sector and business. Government jobs have always been linked to status and dignity but now that image is changing rapidly, maybe except for people coming from very rural areas who have not seen successful people other than government servants.

Government servants are paid salaries from tax payers money and most of the tax payers are entrepreneurs and employees in private industry. So long as we continue depending on Government of India to keep feeding us and supporting us, we will forever remain naïve dependent infants and can never become a matured self-reliant and independent society.

NT: I had seen your post on social media where you talk about different experiments and that probability of success always increases with number of tries. Well, some people do not have such support from family and even if they want to try and start something, they do not have access or knowledge to go about? What advice would you like to give them?

Yanpvuo Kikon: Proving yourself to be a reliable person goes a long way to opening doors and take you higher! You can just be a driver but if your employer can depend on you even for other small works then you start getting more responsibilities. A short-sighted person will quit his job saying I am not getting paid to do these extra works. A far-sighted smart person will do all the extra works because he is learning to do new things and earning his credibility as a reliable person. He starts getting more responsibilities and gets promoted from a driver to even a manager and after many years, he has the confidence, knowledge and even the trust of his employer to invest in his own startup venture!

Ideally, anywhere in the world from USA to China to India, to start a business, especially for people like us where my parents can’t even put Rs. 5 lakh into my startup idea – we have to start with our own savings or seek investments from F&F (Friends and family) or angel investors.

Example: I bought a second-hand scooter for around Rs. 25,000 from my salary while I was working in Dehradun to start our first logistics/courier business in 2016 by taking parcels from Bluedart and trying to deliver them at the customer’s home with one scooter and four other boys on foot! Only after four years in 2020, the company offered us the Bluedart DHL RSP (Regional Service Provider) that too during pandemic and telling us to run it when it was lockdown! It was extremely stressful but today from one scooter, we have slowly grown to fourteen employees and sending/receiving even hundreds of kilograms of products from not just around India but even from around the world.

If you can prove yourself with anything small, you will always get medium opportunities and those medium opportunities start opening up bigger opportunities. We just need to have great business management skills, have the knowledge of how big businesses function, have very serious dedication and be able to earn the respect, honour and trust of others then you are on your way to grow a business. Growing a business is more difficult than opening something and having a grand inauguration! Once you can prove yourself of possessing the business skills of multiplying money/investment then friends and family will trust you with their money, banks and investors will also trust you with their money.

NT: Who is your local inspiration?

Yanpvuo Kikon: Till today there is no local entrepreneur that I can honestly and genuinely draw inspiration from – I mostly follow great innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world and aspire to be like them and build a company not just to cater to the Nagaland market but cater to be a part of the global economy one day.

Yanpvuo Kikon during his Pune days

NT: What is your thought on going out of the state for employment? We had heard a lot of youths who get employed in private companies or organisations in Nagaland complaining about their small salary package. What is your say on this?

Yanpvuo Kikon: Had I returned to Nagaland to please my villagers or my relatives and settled for any government job in Nagaland then I don’t think I would be where I am today. I decided to work outside the state in the technology industry to learn about this industry. I started with just around Rs. 11,500 salary for three years in my first job in Pune with up to 14 hours work. Sometimes I was tempted to quit my job after one year and return. But I knew that in my first job in such a huge industry, the knowledge I gained will be more valuable than the salary I was earning. With the knowledge earned by working in a multi-billion dollar industry I was able to understand how such big corporations and IT (Information Technology) industries operate.

NT: How can the youth be eencouraged for self-employment? What are some few advice and examples you can give to the unemployed youths?

Yanpvuo Kikon: Learn the trade before you start the trade – You want to start an IT company, then work in an IT company for few years. You want to start a hardware store, then work as a salesboy for few years in a hardware store, you want to become a contractor, work under a contractor for few years etc. The first job is never about salary, it is about the knowledge you gain. But sadly, most of our boys and girls only care more about salary than about the knowledge they will gain. They quit in 10 days, months instead of being persistent to struggle for at least 10 years.

Most entrepreneurs who are earning a genuine decent revenue (At least Rs. 10 Crore+ annually and employing at least 50+ youths) have all gone through immense struggles for at least 10 years. We look at young Nagas who give up in 10 days or 10 months and feel sad that if they give up so easily how can they take up bigger challenges. To be successful, you really need to be able to take all the pain, sweat, tears, depression and tension to finally emerge out of the dark as a stronger, more matured, confident and resilient version of yourself.

Self-Employment and entrepreneurship are also all about ups and downs – we can go from zero to hero, down to zero and back to hero again. As entrepreneurs we become resilient because once you have been able to survive the most depressing circumstances then you can easily navigate your way around difficult situations again and again.

But I feel the most important attribute we must possess is our faith in God and paying tithes regularly. Because even when nobody is supporting you, if God is with you then no human can break you. It is also extremely important to exercise regularly because it not only makes you physically fit but also mentally very sharp and focussed.

Finally, to grow a business we need continuous education – everyday learning about the latest in technology, industry, business news to market to geopolitics and non-fiction knowledge. Empower yourself with new skills, knowledge and tools to propel yourself higher. Spend less time in fake pseudo influencers, timepass content, gossip, entertainment and spend more time to learn new things continually.

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