SHILLONG: The artisans and the enterprenuers of Meghalaya deserve the much needed support initiated through various initiatives of the government, said Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma while addressing the 'PRIME Entrepreneurship Awards' here on Friday.
Officials of MBMA, North East Small Finance Bank, SBI, entrepreneurs and artisans of Meghalaya among others were present on the occasion.
The Chief Minister stated, "It feels great to see the sector that was left neglected for a long time being given the attention it requires to prosper.
"I am happy to witness our artisans and entrepreneurs getting the opportunities and the much-needed handholding through the 'Ateliers Programme' and the 'PRIME Meghalaya' initiative."
The Chief Minister also announced that a corpus fund of Rs 125 crore will be constituted over the next two years as 'PRIME Fund' to aid the entrepreneurs of the State. On the need to create value for products, the CM asserted that, "It is important to package, market the story and present the products of our entrepreneurs and artisans, so that we can create value out of their products."
He added that through the initiatives of the Government, the entrepreneurship culture can spread to all different sectors thereby encouraging the talented and enterprising people of Meghalaya. Thanking the banks for their support, he urged them to continue their support to the entrepreneurs of the State. Further, the Chief Minister announced that the Government will introduce the 'Chief Minister's Music Award' on a monthly basis to award the musicians of Meghalaya.
MBMA CEO Dr D. Vijay Kumar pointed out that the venture of the Meghalaya Government through 'PRIME Meghalaya' aims at making entrepreneurship a preferred career choice for young people. It aims at the creation of an ecosystem that enables easy availability of credit, technology, skilling, and mentoring support, and access to markets, he added.
He further said, "Our mission is to provide systematic and targeted approach through a network of 'Prime Hubs' that will be the one-stop-shop for various segments of entrepreneurship in the State." He added that the programme is also reaching out to entrepreneurs in the rural areas.
Speaking about the 'Ateliers Meghalaya' initiative, he said, "The indigenous crafts of Meghalaya are under-marketed. There is inadequate handholding of artists and artisans. It is important to preserve the unique crafts and traditions of Meghalaya."
He also stated that a tourism store will be set up in Delhi to brand the State. A model is being worked upon so that Ateliers can supply their products and crafts to the Delhi store.
He further stated that the way forward will be the launch of the 'Chief Minister's e-Championship Challenge 2.0', upscaling of the PRIME Rural Programme and the setting up of 15 PRIME Hubs by 2021 and another 30 by 2022.
On facilitating access to credit, he added that the PRIME Fund will provide a kickstart a grant of Rs 5 lakhs, and scale up 'Innovation Loans' up to Rs 25 lakh. In the Food Processing sector, in collaboration with NESFB, 0% interest loans, subsidized by the Government will be available up to Rs 10 lakh to support enterprises and entrepreneurs in the sector. Over 570 registrations were made, 280 profiles reviewed; and over 40 loans have been approved till date.
With the support of the IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP), incubation support is being extended to entrepreneurs including capacity building and training programmes, co-working spaces, funding, and market access and visibility. CEO of IIMCIP, Dr. Subhrangshu Sanyal praised the commitment of the Chief Minister by saying "CM has set the vision to create the culture of job takers and not job seekers". Dr. Sanyal also said that he is happy to witness the passion of the entrepreneurs of the State that even the pandemic could not stop them to continue their work. "They used their skillsets to develop products such as masks, sanitizers, curtains for hospitals needed during the pandemic". He also mentioned that 12 entrepreneurs have doubled their incomes and 50 were connected to markets.
In the programme, the awardees for the PRIME ID, Interest-Free Loans, MUDRA Loan Grant/Subsidy Recipients and Ateliers Meghalaya were felicitated. The 'Chief Minister's e-Championship Challenge 2.0 and websites for the MBMA and PRIME were also launched in the event.