Target: one lakh direct employment, four lakh indirect ones in five years

Finance Minister K.M. Mani's dream of turning Kerala into a bubbling land of entrepreneurship is setting sail from here on Thursday.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy will inaugurate on Thursday the Kerala State Self Entrepreneur Development Mission, an ambitious programme of creating 50,000 trained entrepreneurs in the State during the course of the next five years. The Finance Minister had announced the idea of setting up the mission in his budget speech last year.

“It's not just a training programme. We will find out youngsters with the right aptitude from across the State, expose them to six weeks of orientation by experts, arrange through the Kerala Finance Corporation (KFC) interest-free loan of up to Rs.20 lakh, and handhold them to become vibrant entrepreneurs,” Mr. Mani told the media on Tuesday. “There will also be a managerial subsidy, once they start their units,” he added.

He said nearly 15,000 applications flowed in within days of the government giving an announcement in the media inviting interest in joining the mission. The education level sought was Plus Two and above. The KFC interviewed them for idea and promise and selected 4,000 of them in the first batch.

Training starts on February 6 for a group of 818 youngsters in the first batch. They all will be put through the orientation measures and supported with funds nourishment and counsel and handheld for a time so that they sprout wings and take flight, Mr. Mani said.

“A revolutionary programme, first time in India, innovative,” Mr. Mani said, stressing each highlight. He gave visions of every nook and corner of the State throbbing with entrepreneurship, youngsters with energy and idea creating jobs for themselves and several others. “One lakh direct employments and four lakh indirect ones within five years. That is our target,” he said.

Mr. Mani said the government would subsidise the interest part of the loan. The banks are eager to help. The State Level Bankers' Committee is talking about it at its meeting this month. The ideas lying dormant among the aspiring entrepreneurs are wide ranging. They range from high-tech ones to the not-so-high-tech, but the boy or girl behind each idea is raring to go, said Mr. Mani.