In a bid to boost the rural economy, the government has launched the Startup Village Entrepreneurship Programme to foster 1.82 lakh entrepreneurs over a period of four years, in 40 blocks across 14 states. This programme is worth an estimated $72 Mn (INR 484 Cr.).
The programme will be a sub scheme under the National Rural Livelihood Mission and was announced in the 2014 Budget.
In response to questions during a recent Rajya Sabha session, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said, “SVEP supports the rural startup entrepreneurs by training them to choose the right enterprise to start and run it.” He also added that, loans will be made available through Self Help Groups for starting the enterprise and subsequently linking them to banks for additional funds. The groups will support them for the initial six months of their businesses to ensure sustainability.
As part of this programme, the states undertake the initial baseline and market potential study of their respective blocks with help from the approved Programme Implementing Agency for fostering startups and taking care of the financial aspects for the entrepreneurs.
Welcoming this move, Prajakt Raut, co-founder of Applyifi and founder of The Hub for Startups, said, “Glad to see the Government of India take steps to educate, enable and assist aspiring entrepreneurs in rural India. It is important that the government goes beyond ‘VC fundable ventures’ and includes businesses that can be built the traditional way of building a strong business.”
“I hope that the programme goes beyond ‘massively scalable ventures’, which is one key criteria that VCs look for, which have become the definition of the word ‘startup’, and is able to encourage and enable sustainable businesses that can be modest in size and scale,” he added.