Kudumbashree plans exit strategy for SVEP

Micro enterprises consultants not to be left behind

After creating 1,679 micro-enterprises benefiting as many families in Vadavucode block panchayat in nearly four years, the Startup Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) under the National Rural Livelihood Mission is set to complete its course in five months, leaving the District Kudumbashree Mission with the task of chalking out an exit strategy that does not leave behind the network of micro-enterprises consultants (MECs) created for the project.

The project was launched on a pilot basis in Vadavucode along with another block panchayat in Pathanamthitta with an allocation of ₹5.50 crore, shared in the ratio of 60:40 by the Central and State governments, in 2017 to ensure community development by harnessing entrepreneurial skills.

“Out of this, ₹2.50 crore has been allocated as seed funds for starting enterprises in sectors other than agriculture and animal husbandry. And, unlike other Kudumbashree projects, in which funding is restricted to Neighbourhood Group (NHG) members alone, here it was available to any member of the family,” said Arathy Aravind, district programme manager, SVEP.

The network of 19 trained MECs and the Block Nodal Society for Enterprise Promotion (BNSEP) constituted of 12 members — the Community Development Society (CDS) chairperson and micro-enterprise convener from each of the six panchayats in the Vadavucode block — remains the backbone of the project. Funds to beneficiaries are routed directly through the bank accounts of BNSEP members.

MECs personally meet potential beneficiaries and their families in what is called a ‘triggering’ meeting when ideas are discussed and then take them through a one-day general orientation programme, followed by a two-day entrepreneurship development programme. MECs then inspect the site, conduct viability study, and submit detailed business reports based on which BNSEP clears the venture.

“The exit strategy will have to focus on retaining the expertise of MECs within the Kudumbashree fold and ensuring a smooth transition of ownership of enterprises to BNSEP, so that they can operate without hiccups even after the District Kudumbashree Mission severs its links with the project. With the expiry of the project next year, alternative ways will have to be found to supplement the income of MECs, as their existing monthly earnings of anywhere between ₹15,000 and ₹20,000 based on the target and consultancy-centric pay model may take a hit,” said Ms. Aravind.

That the existing CDSs chairpersons will be replaced on January 26 means that the Kudumbashree is left with a narrow window to execute whatever exit plan they may draw up. Apart from the revolving fund of ₹2.50 crore that may be retained, alternative source may also have to be found to set up new enterprises and support the existing ones.

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