SRINAGAR: With the J&K EDI almost back to the repaired administrative complex that was devastated in a bloody encounter in March 2016, the premier business incubator and implementer is speeding up its entrepreneurial plans to manage the deficit. Part of the tension was because of slow pace in certain policy interventions which were eventually cleared by the Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti in a recent meeting, official sources said.
Prior to the interventions, Ms Mufti had a long interaction with almost 2000 entrepreneurs at her residence in which they listed the issues they are confronting with and even offered solutions for government’s consideration. Trained and supported by the EDI, these entrepreneurs shared their first hand experience in trying to exist outside the government’s job network.
The entrepreneurs who spoke on the occasion had key consensus on certain things. They wanted support to expand. “I run a hospital in Poonch and I have done 200 surgeries so far,” one entrepreneur, a doctor, said. “We need some support to expand because we have already created credibility for our initiatives.”
One entrepreneur said they feel at home while in the EDI “but once we move out we get into the fish market.” They insisted that the institution has a key USP: “there is no corruption.” Some even went a step ahead, suggesting the Chief Minister: “Why cannot other government departments follow the EDI?”
A number of entrepreneurs who spoke on the occasion spewed venom against the financial institutions and the allied government departments. They said that though all being residents and stake-holders in the overall system were not considered by any government institution for any kind of support after September 2014 floods decimated some of them or when the unrest overtook all businesses and collapsed a few of them. While the bank offered various concessions to other businesses, these entrepreneurs were left on the edge to die, they alleged.
Some of the entrepreneurs surprised the audience by disclosing their turnovers, some even had more than Rs 8 crore. Most of them, however, had a modest start. Most of the entrepreneurs said they have more than two employees working in their concerns. Some had even 40.
(The EDI buildings after the second Fidayeen attack in October 2016.)
Interestingly, Ms Mufti had got a notebook and was jotting down almost everything that the entrepreneurs said in their brief speeches. She had recorded the names and their problems, personally, despite the entire aides surrounding her. Before the event closed, she received a bunch of applications from them.
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It was on basis of these inputs that Chief Minister called a high level meeting that was attended by the top bureaucracy and the Employment Minister. While putting on record the contributions that J&K EDI made in creating a vast network of entrepreneurs across the state, Ms Mufti asked the policy makers that they must be supportive of the institution and its schemes should in no way be diluted or changed. The input by J&K Bank Chairman Parvez Ahmad that their internal survey has revealed that the units supported by the EDI are operational in 85 percent of the cases despite the September 2014 floods and the 2016 unrest boosted the assessment of the Chief Minister.
It was during the meeting that she opened the same notebook, read out issues and shared details with the meeting. At the end of the meeting, she gave the applications to the concerned officials for speedy disposal.
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Observing that the Youth Startup Loan Scheme (YSLS) and the Seed Capital Fund Scheme (SCFS) are doing “extremely well”, the Chief Minister suggested the schemes be strengthened and continued so that more youth get involved, and benefitted so that part of the educated unemployment is tackled.
EDI has been waiting for a long time for clearance of nearly 800 proposals by its highest decision making body but the Steering Committee could not meet. There are another 1000 DPRs under appraisal with the J&K Bank for some time as well. The Chief Minister ordered that the meeting should take place at the earliest. The institution has already received the necessary funds.
On basis of the inputs about the bank’s handling of the EDI cases, Chief Minister directed that a branch of J&K Bank should be established in the EDI premises at Sempora. Besides, the bank was told that in all the districts, one branch should have a special desk to tackle EDI cases. This was done to give these entrepreneurs specialized attention so that they are protected against the time and cost overruns. The bank was asked to avoid violating RBI guidelines of offering collateral free credit up to Rs 25 lakh.
In order to help successful entrepreneurs to scale up, a new element was introduced. The policy makers were asked to intervene in the guidelines of the twin schemes an element of up-scaling and modernization. The other intervention that can boost the entrepreneurial culture envisages the existing industrial estates were asked to earmark land in different industrial estates for the entrepreneurs coming through EDI. This would revolutionise the culture because most of the entrepreneurs were supposed to have their own land, either by way of ownership or on rent.
For all those entrepreneurs who have suffered because of the 2014 calamity or 2016 unrest, the Chief Minister directed the concerned to take care of their problem and help them revive as fast as possible.
Besides, the EDI was asked to launch a diploma course in entrepreneurship development with an initial seat capacity of 30 from this year only.