The mood was positive for North-eastern states like Manipur, Mizoram and Meghalaya and it was predicted that women-run micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are likely lead in the business landscape, if they get the required support.
In fact, it was seen in 2018 that these three states topped it in the list of top five states in country with the highest number of women enterprises. And another fact is – SHGs bought a transformational change in the lives of the women in the state of Meghalaya, since SHGs provided opportunities to women to become entrepreneurs and thereby, become decision makers.
Seeking to promote entrepreneurship, the state government has recognized the need for private sector-led growth as core strategy for development. Subsequently, substantial efforts have been made in the last few years, towards building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state.
Read about some prominent government schemes and incentives for women entrepreneurs in Meghalaya
> SHGs – bringing change
In the year 2021, a unique Mela dedicated solely to SHGs was held at Rapleng village in East Khasi Hills. At the event, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma highlighted the importance of SHGs across the state and its direct impact of uplifting the socio-economic conditions of women-led set-ups. He also announced that a fund of ₹125 cr would be constituted over the next 2 years as PRIME Fund to aid the efforts of the entrepreneurs of the state. So through the initiatives of the Government, the entrepreneurship culture can spread to all different sectors to encourage the people of Meghalaya.
Under the able guidance of Chief Minister of Meghalaya, the startup ecosystem in the state has undergone a huge transformation. Speaking about the surge of entrepreneurship in the State, Conrad K. Sangma, said in Sept 2022 – “Government has put in substantial effort over the last few years towards building an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the state by encouraging young people to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and recognize their efforts, inspiring them to work harder, and providing them with resources”.
Setting benchmarks across smaller states in India, is the state of Meghalaya – by actually fostering the culture of entrepreneurship. The comprehensive program – PRIME (Promotion and Incubation of Market-driven Enterprises) is aimed at – enterprise promotion and incubation in a holistic manner; and this has got support from the citizens of Meghalaya. What’s special is that under the PRIME program, budding business owners and founders receive comprehensive assistance, at every stage of the process.
Access to Bank Credit has been a major challenge for micro, nano and solo enterprises as well as new startup enterprises. This could be due to multiple reasons including – the small ticket size of individual loans, cost of credit delivery, perception of high risk and lack of local knowledge among bankers, among many other reasons. Timely and adequate access to bank credit is a key requirement for enterprises to flourish in the state. And Credit Enhancement measures such as First Loss Default Guarantee (FLDG) / handholding of entrepreneurs would enhance the flow of credit to the desired sectors and entrepreneur segments.
PRIME will facilitate this access to bank loans and, at the same time develop new financial vehicles to also fund such entrepreneurs that work on promising, innovative products and services that have the potential to create a large-scale impact.
> Meghalaya Startup Policy
In August 2018, the Government of Meghalaya had launched the Meghalaya Startup Policy. The main objective was – to emerge as one of the leading ‘Startup Hubs’ in India by 2023 through strategic partnerships, suitable ecosystem, investment and policy interventions. The Enterprise Development Strategy and the Startup Policy are meant to ensure that startup entrepreneurs are provided support from the state – to launch and grow their enterprise.
The PRIME program, initiated by the Government of Meghalaya, is working towards implementing the initiatives outlined in the Meghalaya Startup Policy.
Under the PRIME program, any individual or organization producing goods and services for the market is considered an entrepreneur. Interestingly, in Meghalaya, there are three broad segments of entrepreneurs, which are – Startup Entrepreneurs, Nano Entrepreneurs, and Livelihood Entrepreneurs.
> Infrastructure Development & Capacity Building – MSME Cluster Development Programme
Under this scheme, the association of women entrepreneurs will be assisted under the Cluster Development Programme in establishing exhibition central places for display and sale of products made by women owned MSEs.
> Village Entrepreneurship Start-up Programme
This scheme is under Ministry of Rural Development, the aim is to provide incubation services to village entrepreneurs.
> Promotional Services Institutions and Programme – Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) Scheme for Women
Under Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises – this scheme goes all out to provide assistance for economic empowerment of women, through development of their entrepreneurial skills in non-farming activities.
> National/State Scheduled Tribes Finance & Development Corporations
Under Ministry of Tribal Affairs, here they offer grants for development of STs – for skill training, loans for setting up of micro-enterprise, etc
> Support to Training & Employment
Under Ministry of Women & Child Development, the scheme has the provisions
a) To provide skills that give employability to women.
b) To provide competencies and skills that enable women to become self-employed / entrepreneurs.
Assistance under the STEP scheme will be available in any sector – for imparting skills related to employability and entrepreneurship, including but not limited to the following: Agriculture, Horticulture, Food Processing, Handlooms, Tailoring, Stitching, Embroidery, Handicrafts, Computer & IT enabled services along with soft skills and skills for the workplace such as spoken English, Gems & Jewellery, Travel & Tourism, Hospitality. Training, food and travel cost is provided in the training programme.
> Departmental Manpower Training Schemes
Under Commerce & Industries Department, the scheme aims at generation of technical skill manpower, in different vocational trades, for the promotion and development of entrepreneurship in the State.
> Training Centre for Self-Employment for Women
This comes under Social Welfare Department, and training is given to destitutes on different trades like tailoring, knitting, embroidery and weaving.
> Chief Minister’s Rural Development Fund (CMSRDF)
The objective of the programme, which is under Community & Rural Development Department is to generate wage employment and creation of socially and economically useful public assets – by involving people’s participation at the grassroots level.