Youth And Entrepreneurship

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Mercy Corps, the US based charity operating in Kashmir, has carried out a detailed survey under its Start-up Kashmir Youth Entrepreneur (SKYE) Development Project, to understand the priorities of the youth as far as entrepreneurship goes. Here are the key findings:

UNIVERSE:
Though the survey has involved more than three thousand people at different levels, the actual survey involved 1000 youth. Of them 45% want to be self employed and the remaining 55% employees. 57% of all male and 35% of female respondents would prefer being self employed. The urge to be self employed is more among urbanites (60% males and 38% females) than those living in the periphery.

BARRIERS:
22% had tried becoming entrepreneurs. They ranked many barriers: lack of relevant education, access to banking, access to business development services, local market opportunities and difficulties in navigating administrative and regulatory framework.

DEMOTIVATORS: 67% of females saw gender discrimination a de-motivator. But others has a long list: ongoing conflict, financial risks, corruption, lack of skills, access to finance, stigma associated with failures and market demand, competition, social risk and work load.

PERCEPTIONS: 58% see starting a business as challenging, 32% see very challenging, nine percent see it easy and one percent very easy.

IMPROVEMENTS: Surveyed youth foresee improvements if the systems are prioritized in such a way that there is entrepreneurial education and training; increased cultural and social acceptance to entrepreneurship;better business development services, supportive administrative and better media recognition.

AWARENESS: 82% of youth have not heard about entrepreneurship development institutes or programmes and 96% of the surveyed have never participated in any entrepreneurship development programme. 72% have lack knowledge about existing entrepreneurs and enterprises in Kashmir and 79% youth say they have no access to entrepreneurship knowledge and resources. 80% of them feel the existing entrepreneurship institutes are unable to adequately support potential enterprises. More than 59% of the youth surveyed lacked knowledge about the core processes, services and the service providers that they might need if they choose to become entrepreneurs.

FINANCES: 54% have no knowledge about the available financial products and incentives for entrepreneurship. Only one percent hasall the knowledge about the processes involved to avail finances and incentives.

SCHEMES:
Nobody seems to know anything. In fact 93% lack knowledge about the basic requirement needed for starting a business in Kashmir. 81% do not know anything about Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Policy for Youth (SKEWPY), 64% do not Prime Minister’s Employment Guarantee Programmes (PMEGP), 88% are ignorant about Cluster Development Programme (CDP), 77% lack knowledge about Skill Development Programmes (SKDP), 91% have not heard of Credit Linked Capital subsidy Schemes (CLCSS), 94% do not know ISO 9000/14000 Reimbursements. The level of ignorance is 93% in Integrated Infrastructure Development (IID) scheme, 90% PIF, 71% RGUMY and 94% National Manufacturing Competitiveness Programme (NMCP).

COMPLAINTS: 81% said the college and university curriculum lacks adequate knowledge and guidance on starting a business. 68% pointed out lack of collaboration of the educational institutions with the businesses for technical and practical knowledge. 89% of youth said they do not know about any available internships or apprenticeships which provide potential entrepreneurs opportunities to enhance relevant technical and soft skills.

FORECASTING: 59% of the surveyed youth expect the business environment in Kashmir will improve by 2013. But 25% thought it will remain unchanged and 16% foresee it to worsen.

2010: An Empirical Study
Delhi based NGO Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation has carried out an empirical study of the slain persons of 2010 unrest. It profiled a total of 97 slain persons of whom, the report – Behind the Numbers: Profiling those killed in Kashmir’s 2010 Unrest – says 39 were students, 27 were skilled and unskilled labourers, 19 were in to petty businesses, six were working for the government, two were farmers and one was a homemaker.

The report says that 56 belonged to families owning land and 41 were from landless families. 36 of them were from Baramulla, 16 from Srinagar, 12 from Islamabad, 11 from Pulwama as all other districts had single digit losses.

On the political affiliations front, the report found 76 of them lacking any political affiliation while as PDP and NC had three and two activists getting killed. Three were from jamat and one from Geelani led Hurriyat.

While 51 were bystanders and were killed unawares, 35 of them were killed while they were throwing stones or protesting. Six were killed while participating in the funerals. As many as 56 families said they are not aware about any action that might have been initiated in their deaths. As many as 51 families have told CDR researchers led by Zubair Dar that they were not given access to lodge an FIR. Interestingly 32 of the 97 families surveyed have said they had no hope in the judicial system and thought that initiating any judicoial proceedings against the culprits was futile.

While 68 families were compensated, eight were offered but they refused taking it and in 19 cases no compensation was offered at all.

About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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