By Deepa Kumar:
In 2008, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that, ‘We enjoy the advantage of the largest youth population in the world. We must invest in their education and employability’. What we are asking is, why can’t the same employability be generated via entrepreneurship?
GrassRoute India’s #ChangeinIndia campaign asked citizens the one thing they wanted to change in India, and as a result of the same, there is a demand for spurring Rural Entrepreneurship.
In 2022, when the world will have a shortfall of 47 million youth force, we in India, with 430 million people as part of our youth force, will have a surplus of 56 million youth. Therefore, it is essential that the power of this youth force be harnessed to its fullest potential. As initiatives for Rural Development, NABARD’s Rural Entrepreneurship Development Programme (REDP) has helped initiate youth in rural areas up to a certain extent; however, the same is not sufficient.
Firstly, neither is REDP demand driven, nor is it resource driven. This restricts the scope of the Programme as it attempts to generate entrepreneurship in India’s rural areas without a clear understanding of people’s demands or resources available at hand. With no prior assessment or survey factored in the programme, it does not consider the choice of rural youth and weakens opportunities.
Another impediment of the REDP is that it prefers providing training facilities to literate youth only. Therefore, the exclusive nature of the Programme limits the assistance it promises to provide. Also, it requires an organisation to be on-field for at least 3 years to qualify for the Programme. How then, are start-up entrepreneurs receiving assistance from the same?
It is also noted that only 22% of the Self Help Groups in rural areas had access to funding for entrepreneurial activity. In such a low investment and weak mentoring atmosphere, it is extremely difficult for entrepreneurs in rural India to firstly, take the plunge, and initiate a business, and secondly, try and sustain the business.
Besides, they also face issues such as lack of business skills and proper training, unavailability and lack of access to fixed capital, poor creditworthiness due to which receiving funding and/or loans is extremely difficult, lack of soft skills & avenues to market their product. An insufficiently developed rural market only furthers this problem.
Without adequate accountability of Government programmes that include REDP, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), the opportunities provided to budding entrepreneurs in rural areas are minimal. As a result of this, the innovative capacity of these entrepreneurs, and of our whole nation, by extension, is getting stunted.
Therefore, in association with Enactus (I.I.T. Delhi) & with the support of Ashwin Mushran, we want to achieve the following:
A District Level Business Incubator exclusively assigned for the initiation and development of entrepreneurs in rural India. The same will have the sole responsibility of supporting businesses in rural areas.
Given that successful completion of a business incubation program increases the likelihood that a start-up company will stay in business for the long term, the aforementioned body will prove to be an asset to the many entrepreneurs in rural areas who require assistance to transform their ideas into realities.
As Ashwin Mushran said, ‘Trying to start your own business in a city is tough enough. Try thinking about what it must be like for people in rural areas wanting to start their own businesses. We have a wealth of entrepreneurial talent waiting to be given a chance in villages and small towns across the country. Every step of the process should be made easy for them to encourage starting their own businesses. A modern country only takes shape by modernising all aspects, including the interiors which many of us brush aside
It is precisely this reason why I am supporting the campaign for Rural Empowerment for Entrepreneurs. Enactus and GrassRoute India are coming together to make a positive change in how businesses can be set up in interior India. It is something we should all support.
It may be a small change for 1 person but when you multiply that, it becomes a huge change for the country.’
If you want to help rural India, sign our petition and share it with your friends
To further be a part of this discussion, attend our Tweet-up across Mumbai, Delhi, Srinagar & Nagpur on Sunday, 13th October, click here.Â