Businesses held by diminishing races in a crisis to stay afloat
Professor Sayeed Unisa in the department of mathematical demography and statistics at the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS) in Mumbai says that the population of Parsi community was 111,791 in 1951; it declined to 69,601 in 2001. Projected population based on estimated births and deaths shows that the community’s population will shrink to 40,000 by 2041. “The community has one of the lowest fertility (0.99 in 1999) in the world. This is because of very high non-marriage and late marriage,” he says.
Enter organisations like the World Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce (WZCC). Yazdi , the technical director of the WZCC says that while bigger corporations like Tatas and Godrejs are secure as they have a brand image, smaller businesses and home-base operations face a threat as the younger generation may or may not want to carry on the enterprise.
Tantra, along with WZCC members and some eminent Parsi industrialists, is trying to rekindle the flame of entrepreneurship among the Parsi youth. In 2009, WZCC launched a business plan contest, inviting Parsi youth to come up with business ideas that the community will help to promote and develop. “Since then, we have introduced many hand-holding schemes to encourage Parsi youth to rediscover their spirit of entrepreneurship. This year we have launched an entrepreneur development programme to promote the same,” Tantra says. “Today the attitudes have changed. Earlier the Parsis were the pioneers in entrepreneurship, but maybe the license raj or fighting the government for privileges changed that,” notes research scholar Pronoti Chirmuley at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, who has been researching on the Parsis for the last three years.