Ms. Beth A. Payne on entrepreneurship in U.S. and opportunities for Indian students


Her Excellency, Ms. Beth A. Payne has taken over as Consul General just about a year ago. She has servedU.S. embassies in Senegal, Rwanda, Israel and Kuwait. It was her first interaction with IIM-C students and her excitement was visible, the instant she entered the lecture hall. She greeted all those present with Namaste! and began dialogue with bringing up one of her close friends from the period she was in Pennsylvania State University; he was from India and used to believe that entrepreneurship holds the key to economic growth of India. She said that now when she is here, it is very fulfilling for her to see the economic reforms in India unleashing the potential of private sector and also that the students are taking steps to become next generation entrepreneurs.

Talking about entrepreneurship in U.S. she said that it is rooted deeply in the psychic of all Americans. They get it from great visionaries, innovators and risk-takers like Henry Ford and Bill Gates. Americans admire these creative pioneers who build their economy. She revealed that the success of entrepreneurship in U.S. is based on the encouragement entrepreneurs get from the government. Putting a premium on risk-takers and providing a cushion for those who fail, have really helped entrepreneurs grow in U.S. She proudly said that failure does not hold Americans back from taking risk or from lending a hand to those who are willing to take one.

She told students that it just takes 6 days on an average to open a new business in U.S. which is a result of government bureaucracies designed to work quickly and smoothly and this is not where is ends, there are strict copyright laws in place to protect these small businesses from big industrial houses and also if the business is to fail the bankruptcy system is very supportive, owner’s personal finances are not put in danger even if his company files for bankruptcy; according to World Bank this is one of the most lenient systems in the world when it comes to

supporting entrepreneurship.

Commenting on education system and its relation with entrepreneurship she said that U.S. universities have very strong relationships with corporate houses which enables them to create entrepreneurship opportunities for students through programmes like internships, where a student can learn and work at the same time, this gives student the required experience to start something of his/her own. She also threw some light on U.S. immigration laws; she said that U.S. government feels delighted in welcoming Indian students, students can come to U.S., study, work and even get U.S. citizenship as long as they follow the laws. She compared these students with ambassadors from India to U.S. and from U.S. to India. She also mentioned about various scholarships students can get for a variety of programmes in U.S., one can get detailed information on these scholarships on . She emphasised that one must not target only big universities like Yale and Stanford; other universities are as good as these are, these big universities are open for admission but they might not grant scholarships.

She also enlightened the students about different visas available for Indian students; students can go to U.S. in Student Exchange Programmes by applying for J-Visa, internship is another option but this is applicable to companies participating in existing exchange programmes of different universities. She appealed to students to go through rules and regulations themselves because they are not same for everyone so it is very much possible that some law, which averted someone from going to U.S., is not applicable to you.

She denied that U.S. is coming up with new laws to prevent immigration after 9/11, she said that laws have always been there they are just reinforcing them more strictly now than they were before. She also commented on the misunderstanding that U.S. is becoming protectionist after this economic turmoil, she said that new laws and acts coming in this regard just ensure that U.S. gets a level playing field, these laws not at all hamper the possibility of free trade, in-fact these laws are very much consistent with free market principles.

She also attended various queries of students regarding different scales of start-ups in U.S., possibilities for an Indian student to start business in U.S., expansion procedures for businesses and protection & financing facilities for small businesses in U.S. The overall response from her side was very positive apart from some legal restrictions she mentioned about, but she also said that U.S. always welcomes someone who is creative, enthusiastic and is willing to stick to his/her idea. She solicited students to maintain their eagerness in entrepreneurship and also requested to spread it in society because the risk-taking ability required for entrepreneurship can be nurtured only in a supporting culture, which does not make fun of those who fail but praise them for taking the risk and also encourages them to come up with better ideas.