They are selected under NEEDS, State Government’s new flagship programme

Kapil Dev, a Karaikudi youth named after a legendary cricketer, may not have excelled in sports. But he is all set to exhibit his prowess in the bakery business, thanks to the State government’s newly introduced flagship programme — New Entrepreneur-cum-Enterprise Development Scheme (NEEDS) — aimed at providing end-to-end assistance to aspiring first-generation entrepreneurs.

He is among the first batch of 30 beneficiaries selected from Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Pudukottai, Virudhunagar, Sivaganga and Theni districts. The other candidates include M. Priya, from Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district, who is interested in setting up a packaged drinking water plant, and Arulprakash of Madurai, who wants to start an ‘appalam’ manufacturing unit.

The beneficiaries were selected on the basis of project proposals submitted by them to the general managers of the District Industries Centres (DIC). The proposals were placed before the district-level task force committees chaired by the respective collectors. After the committee’s clearance, the candidates were given provisional loan sanction by nationalised banks and asked to attend a compulsory training programme.

The 25-day training programme, sponsored by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) of the State government in Chennai, was inaugurated at the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED) here on Wednesday. R. Balakrishnan, Additional Chief Secretary and Director of EDI, inaugurated it from Chennai through video-conferencing.

Mr. Balakrishnan advised the beneficiaries to be clear on their business ideas rather than attempting to seek loans on the basis of business plans prepared by hired auditors and consultants. “Unless you own your project completely, you will not be able to succeed in your venture. Starting a business certainly involves risks, but if you are confident of what you are doing, you will be able to take any risk,” he said.

Stress on USP

He also urged the beneficiaries to either come out with innovative business ideas to avoid competition or to chalk out unique selling propositions while venturing into a business already flooded with other players. “Your business idea must be so good that it impress others, especially the bankers who are going to finance the venture,” he said.

K. Panneerselvam, Additional Director, EDI, said that the government had planned to cover about 1,000 candidates every year under NEEDS. Any degree, diploma or vocational training certificate holder between 21 to 35 years of age was eligible to be included under the scheme. Women and other reserved category candidates were entitled for age relaxation by 10 years.

Successful candidates would be assisted in preparing business plans, tying up with financial institutions, setting up the business ventures and collaborating with industrial clients. They would also be given preference in allotment of land in industrial estates. The candidates would be eligible for a loan ranging from Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 1 crore with a capital subsidy of 25 per cent of the project cost. K.N. Subramanian, Lead District Manager, Madurai, said that the loans would be sanctioned under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises category for which no collateral security would be required if the loan was below Rs. 10 lakh. He asked the beneficiaries to defend their projects and get the actual loan amount required for those projects rather than settling for an amount offered by the banks.

R. Jayaraman, Member Secretary, CED, said that the training programme would be akin to a mini MBA programme. Though the beneficiaries were already granted provisional loan sanction, they would not be given final sanction without completing the training programme, which was aimed at motivating them and providing finer details about the financial and legal aspects of their chosen business.