Gaining economic independence is considered a critical benefit of women entrepreneurship; and this economic independence will instill a sense of pride and confidence – steering women to take part in the decision-making process. It is the first step towards women empowerment. Most of the women entrepreneurs here are urban-based and there is huge scope for the contribution of rural women in entrepreneurial activities. Besides, the potential for developing the spirit of entrepreneurship among Assamese women is very high.
As Assam Day was celebrated on December 2, we trace back into history to see that it was founded as Ahom Kingdom and finally achieved statehood in 1950.
Traditionally, the Assamese women have been engaged in activities like – weaving, knitting, embroidery, beauty parlours, jam, jelly and pickle-making and so on. Moreover, it has been observed recently that many women in business are also entering non-traditional areas.
Here are some government schemes and incentives for women entrepreneurs in Assam.
The Assam Government aims to create an ecosystem for start-ups in Assam and to establish Assam as the entrepreneurial hub of Northeast India. The Assam Startup policy primarily focuses on generating employment, nurturing start-ups in the initial stage, and stimulating Startup culture in the state.
The important highlights of the Assam Startup Policy Draft 2017 included four pillars:
Digital Startup Ecosystem: This included the development of a Startup portal and app – to facilitate information aggregation and infrastructure booking. The portal shall also included online learning and development programs, and a dedicated helpline was also be made operational.
Development of Infrastructure: Creation of Startup incubator space took place in Guwahati in the first phase and then in Dibrugarh and Silchar along with the establishment of ESDM (Electronic Systems and Design Manufacturing) innovation center. Funding and Other Incentives: Registered start-ups to get fiscal incentives and benefits along with loan schemes with interest subsidy among other reimbursements.
Human Capital and Skill Development: In order to boost innovation, the government planned to create a conducive environment at the school and college level. Compulsory EDCs (Entrepreneurship Development Cells) shall also to be established in every college.
> North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi)
North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd (NEDFi) is a Public Limited Company registered under the Companies Act 1956 on 9th August, 1995. The shareholders of the Corporation are IDBI, SBI, LICI, SIDBI, ICICI, IFCI, SUUTI, GIC and its subsidiaries.
NEDFi Venture Capital Limited (NVCL) was formed with the objective of acting as Investment Manager to Venture Funds. NVCL was incorporated under the provisions of the Companies Act 2013 on 2nd August 2016.
NEDFi provides financial assistance to micro, small, medium and large enterprises for setting up industrial, infrastructure and agri-allied projects in the North Eastern Region of India and also Microfinance through MFI/NGOs. Besides financing, the Corporation offers Consultancy & Advisory services to the state Governments, private sectors and other agencies. They conduct sector or state specific studies under its Techno-Economic Development Fund (TEDF) and is the designated nodal agency for disbursal of Govt. of India incentives to the industries in the North-East India under North–East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy 2007 (NEIIPP
> Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) for PMEGP beneficiaries
The aim is to motivate, inspire and build capacity for establishment of an enterprise, manage and sustain the unit successfully by any interested beneficiary. As per operational guidelines approved by Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Govt. of India PMEGP any beneficiary has to undergo two weeks (10 Days) & six days (the project cost up to Rs 5.00 lakhs) Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) before release of sanctioned loan to beneficiaries.
The objectives listed out are many centred round entrepreneurship. They include – to impart knowledge on the concept of entrepreneurship, its challenges and prospects; to develop entrepreneurial on the concept of entrepreneurship, its motivation, risk taking ability, confidence, goal-setting ability of the potential entrepreneurs; to impart knowledge on procedure and formalities of setting of an enterprise/business; to develop skills on management of a unit / business establishment including financial and marketing; and to impart knowledge on identification of business opportunities and preparation of business plan.
> Entrepreneurship development schemes by different institutions in Rural Assam
Under the MSE Cluster Development Programme by Ministry of MSME, in case of soft interventions the Ministry contributes up to 90% of the total project cost; and, in the case of hard intervention to women entrepreneurs – it is up to 40% assistance for infrastructure development.
Under the Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) Scheme for women, the ministry of MSME grants up to 30% of the total project cost to NGOs for promoting entrepreneurship among women. The Ministry also grants upto Rs.1 lakh per programme to training institutions/ NGOs for the training of women entrepreneurs. Up to Rs.5 lakh is also provided to National Entrepreneurship Development Institutions and any other institutions of repute for conducting field surveys, research studies, evaluation studies, designing of training modules etc.
Credit Guarantee Fund Scheme for Micro and Small Enterprises, promoted by SIDBI, the guarantee cover is available up to 75% of the loans extended; however, the extent of guarantee cover is 80% for women operated MSEs.
The National Credit Fund for Women (NCFW) commonly known as Rashtriya.
Mahila Kosh (RMK) assists women financially in informal sector. RMK allocates micro credit through MFIs for various activities which includes setting up of micro enterprises.
The SIDBI also launched women-special schemes. Under Mahila Udyam Nidhi, women entrepreneurs are been granted with equity finance for setting up new projects in tiny or small sector and rehabilitation of viable sick industry. Under Scheme for Women Entrepreneur, women entrepreneurs are been financially assisted in setting up of SSI unit.
The NEDFI also offers women-centred schemes like Women Enterprise Development Scheme
(WEDS), Scheme for North East Handloom and Handicrafts (SNEHH) etc.
The Government of Assam, in general, has provided various schemes for employment and entrepreneurs. The schemes like Kalapataru (finance), Chief Minister Self Employment Scheme (stipend while training with travelling expenses), CM Special Schemes (power tiller), Handloom and textiles (yarn) etc.
Through different policies like – Assam Industrial Policy 2008 and Assam IT policy 2009, the government of Assam has developed women entrepreneurship by giving various assistance and incentives. Commercial banks are also introducing different types of schemes for the
development of entrepreneurs.