By definition, an entrepreneur is a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit’. It will be interesting to note the kind of personalities that suits best for becoming one. An Entrepreneur is someone with the extraverted, observant, thinking and prospecting personality traits. Their strengths include being bold, rational and practical, original, perceptive, direct and sociable. They are also known to be a people person, driven, motivated, confident, risk-taker and proactive. They are good with numbers, goal-oriented and future-focused, passionate, born leaders, honest and humble.
Approaches to a startup differ from one State to another, from one area to another, in particular in the northeastern region when there are many underlying factors contributing to its progress or hinders the business from growing. Many of our youth have entrepreneurial minds and their plans are extraordinary. However, due to lack of guidance and resources, they are not able to execute. There is no denial of the fact that the Government at the centre and the State level are doing all it could to facilitate budding entrepreneurs to initiate and bring their plans to life. The existing resources are plenty and can be availed easily. Some of the prominent ones may consist of:
1. Loan Schemes:
The Department of Cooperation, Government of Meghalaya for instance has in their website mentioned details of the schemes available for different sectors. They are Crop loans, Term loans, Transport vehicle loans, Consumer durables loans, Term loans for tourism development, Integrated Village Development Scheme (I.V.D.S.), Personal loan, Educational loan and loan for Professional and Technocrats.
A subsidy takes the form of payment, provided directly or indirectly, to the receiving individual or business entity. Subsidies are generally seen as a privileged type of financial aid, as they lessen an associated burden that was previously levied against the receiver, or promote a particular action by providing financial support. Direct subsidies are those that involve an actual payment of funds toward a particular individual, group or industry. Indirect subsidies are those that do not hold a predetermined monetary value or involve actual cash outlays. They can include activities such as price reductions for required goods or services that can be government-supported. This allows the needed items to be purchased below the current market rate, resulting in savings for those the subsidy is designed to help. There are many forms of subsidies given out by the government. Two of the most common types of individual subsidies are welfare payments and unemployment benefits. The objective of these types of subsidies is to help people who are temporarily suffering economically. Other subsidies, such as subsidised interest rates on student loans, are given to encourage people to further their education.
2. Meghalaya Start-up Policy 2018:
Government of Meghalaya has launched the Meghalaya Startup Policy in August 2018 by which the objective of the state is to, “emerge as one of the leading ‘Startup Hubs’ in India by 2023 through strategic partnerships, conducive ecosystem, investment and policy interventions”. The combined efforts of the Startup Policy and Enterprise Development Strategy will ensure that startup entrepreneurs are provided holistic support from the state to launch and grow their enterprise. Some of the prominent points mentioned in the Meghalaya Startup Policy are i) The State government will develop a startup portal and app which will aggregate all information related to the policy, its benefits and the procedure to avail them ii). Approved institutions will be eligible for a one-time grant of 75 per cent of capital cost (cost of building, equipment, connectivity etc.) up to a maximum of Rs 5 crore to set up an incubator. iii) The approved industry groups/houses shall be eligible for a performance capital grant of Rs 5 lakh for each successful startup that they create. iv) The government would put effort to establish one or more startup/innovation park in the state as a one-stop destination for startups, either on its own or in partnership with the private sector. v) State government proposed to establish an innovation fund to foster research in information & communication technology, energy, tourism etc. in the state institutions. vi) Startups shall be eligible for reimbursement of lease rental at the rate of 50 per cent for a period of three years subject to a ceiling of Rs 2 lakh per year startup. vii) Create an enabling environment and ecosystem for at least 500 startups in the next five years (Source: Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship (MIE) Website: https://miemeghalaya.org/).
3. Vocational training under Skill Development Programmes:
The State Council for Training in Vocational Trades (SCTVT) Society, Directorate of Employment and Craftsmen Training, Labour Department, is the Nodal Agency for implementation of Skill Development programmes in the non-farming sectors of the economy in the State of Meghalaya. It offers recognised certification as well as placement-linked training programmes. i) Craftsmen Training Scheme (CTS) for appointment in Subordinate Technical Posts in Central/State Government Establishments/Undertaking and Industries in India. ii) Skill Development Initiative based on Modular Employability Skill – MES is ‘Minimum Skill Set’ which is sufficient to get employment in the world of work. iii) Empanelled Skill Providers – Minimum 70 per cent Placement Guarantee with a minimum of Rs.8000 remuneration per month for placement outside the State and Rs.6000 within the State. iv) Apprenticeship Training Scheme (ATS) Fresh Candidates and Ex-ITI’ian are eligible for engagement against the designated seats located in establishments under the purview of the Apprentice Act, 1961. The stipend is paid to all registered trainees by the establishment on the rates as fixed by the Government of India. Admission is done by the Establishments. Trade Apprenticeship Certificate (NAC) is recognised for appointment in Subordinate Technical Posts in Central/State Government Establishments/Undertaking and Industries in India (Source: Directorate of Employment and Craftsmen Training, GoM Website: www.dectmeg.nic.in)
The State government had made significant policy and program interventions in the last few years to make entrepreneurship a viable and exciting opportunity. The objective is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that encourages and supports innovation, risk-taking and hard work. Some of the key initiatives of the government to make entrepreneurship viable and exciting opportunities are: i) Establishing institutions like the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority (MBDA) and the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship (MIE) as the nodal knowledge and capacity building institutions for enterprise development. ii) Changing the development narrative from a subsidy-based, government program-driven approach to a credit-linked enterprise approach through advocacy and IEC campaigns. iii) Setting up of Enterprise Facilitation Centers (EFCs) in every block as hubs for proving business development services. iv) Focusing on bringing about convergent action across development departments so that limited resources could be effectively used to plug critical gaps in the product value chains. v) Mobilising resources through Externally Aided Projects for Enterprise Promotion. vi) Bringing out the State Start-up policy that provides incentives for start-ups and for setting up of business incubators.
It will be happy to note that the State government, based on the learning of all the Entrepreneurship promotion initiatives, now wants to launch a comprehensive program that looks at Enterprise promotion and incubation in a holistic manner. This program is being called the PRIME (Promotion and Incubation of Market-driven Enterprises). The key components of the PRIME program are i) Setting up PRIME HUBS as the anchors for enterprise promotion in all district and block headquarters by upgrading existing Enterprise Facilitation Centers. The PRIME HUBS will be centers for Innovation, Knowledge sharing, Incubation and Skill development. ii) Supporting 50,000 LIVELIHOOD ENTERPRISES, which are predominantly single individual livelihood activities, through the networks of Self Help Groups and Cooperative Societies iii) Creating dedicated funding windows, interest subvention programs and credit enhancement through First Loan Default Guarantee (FLDG) schemes to provide comfort to banks and financial institutions that lend to all the three categories of entrepreneurs. iv) Using mindset interventions to ensure greater entrepreneurial success and nurturing entrepreneurial mindsets in schools and colleges (Source: Meghalaya Entrepreneurship Promotion Strategy 2020 – 2025, https://massentrepreneurship.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Meghalaya-Entrepreneurship-Promotion-Strategy-1.pdf).
The greatest loophole in the entire process is in failing to disseminate the much-needed information to the right audiences – the youth, the unemployed, the dropouts and those longing to initiate a fresh business. The bigger question is on how to educate and connect with them, who needs nothing but proper guidance and direction on the existing facilities and schemes meant for them. (The writer can be reached at [email protected])