Cisco-SIDBI initiative to promote ICT entrepreneurship

Special Correspondent

Tiruchi REC to provide customised training to participants

CHENNAI: The networking major, Cisco, in collaboration with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and Tiruchirapalli Regional Engineering College – Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park (TREC-STEP) has decided to promote information and communications technology (ICT) entrepreneurship and innovation in India.

The ICT entrepreneurship development programme will provide financing, mentorship and training to qualified entrepreneurs and small businesses in India.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, the Vice-President and General Manager of the Cisco Networking Academy, Amy Christen, said that as part of the pilot programme, SIDBI would finance small ICT businesses in India, which would be run by Cisco Networking Academy students. Under the programme, SIDBI would provide loans to entrepreneurs while Cisco would subsidise the interest repayment and guarantee fees on the loans. The TREC-STEP, for its part, would provide customised training and mentoring to participants.

Loan on flexible terms

On the Cisco Networking Academy, Ms. Christen said that it was an innovative education initiative that provided information and communication technology skills to more than eight lakh students in over 160 countries.

Ms. Christen said the programme was part of the $1 million commitment made by Cisco in 2006 to promote microfinance and ICT entrepreneurship across the world. In India it was a pilot programme that initially involved 10 ICT businesses in Tamil Nadu, which would be provided loan assistance by SIDBI on flexible terms.

The Deputy Managing Director, SIDBI, Rakesh Rewari, said this partnership aimed to nurture innovative thinking in small enterprises engaged in the ICT sector and support them with the financial resources to transform those ideas. All the three organisations would jointly assess the performance of the individuals before funding.

The loan limit was up to Rs. 50 lakhs with an interest rate of 12 per cent. SIDBI, however, would provide an initial funding up to Rs. 10 to 15 lakhs and would be scaled up with the development of the project.

Business incubation

The Executive Director of TREC-STEP, R.M. P. Jawahar, said his organisation would provide business incubation through training, coaching and mentoring. He felt that the financial support from SIDBI would go a long way in reducing the initial investment commitments of the entrepreneurs.

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