Steady Growth of SC Entrepreneurs
Although Tamil Nadu has over 56,000 community owned units, it has not been a smooth ride
Tamil Nadu, a leading state in the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector, is seeing a steady growth of entrepreneurs from Scheduled Castes.
Although the number of SC entrepreneurs is not proportional to the share of the community in the population, it is increasing. In fact, according to India’s 4th Census of MSMEs (Registered Sector) undertaken in 2006-07 and released in 2011, the state had the highest number of SC-owned enterprises with 18,120, or about 15.24% of those units in total. -Indian level. (When the Udyog Aadhaar Memorandum Business Registration System ended in June 2020, the number of SC-owned businesses increased to 56,047).
Based on census data, Milind Kamble, founding chairman of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DICCI), told the Global Investors Meeting in Chennai in September 2015 that the state had the highest number of SC contractors in the country. He still cites the data because, he says, no such census has been done since then. About 10 years later, only the 73rd national sample survey (2015-16) has been carried out. In subsequent years, other states overtook Tamil Nadu, but this may be temporary given the unavailability of comprehensive data.
The state government is taking steps to encourage entrepreneurs from the community, says KS Bhagyalakshmi, Vice President of Tamil Nadu Chapter of DICCI. A few weeks ago, the office of the state commissioner of industries and the director of industries and commerce instructed the general managers of the district industrial centers and the regional co-directors to ensure that the members of the district units of the DICCI or any such body are invited to the meetings. of the working group committee responsible for selecting beneficiaries of the New Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Development Program (NEEDS) and Job Creation Program for Unemployed Youth (UYEGP). Through these programs, SC participants receive support.
Ms. Bhagyalakshmi benefited from the first batch of candidates trained under NEEDS. Today, she is dedicated to producing eco-friendly products such as non-woven, fabric and jute bags and training budding entrepreneurs.
V. Arumugam, from a village near Arakkonam, is also a NEEDS beneficiary. Running a business in the field of manufacturing materials and press tool components, he was sent to Greece in 2019 for an exhibition, courtesy of the Chennai regional office of the National SC/ST Hub of the Ministry of Union of MSMEs.
E. Sivagamasundari of Nellikuppam in Cuddalore may not be as exposed as the two, but she has been determinedly pursuing the production of herbal products for the past six years. When IAS officer Gagandeep Singh Bedi was Cuddalore Collector years ago, he spotted her potential and encouraged her to start a herbal products unit. She is taking steps to increase production capacity with financial aid of ₹10 lakh to purchase machinery.
One can meet such entrepreneurs, who have diversified into different fields, ranging from the provision of logistics services to the management of petrol bunkers, including textile, food processing or agricultural product units. There is an entrepreneur, Shobana Soundararajan from Villupuram, who runs two resorts, including one in Pondicherry.
However, this is not a smooth ride for SC entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur, who has run a foundry near Chennai for almost 40 years, does not want to be identified as belonging to the community. “You know why” – that’s all he would say. Another entrepreneur says the issue of social discrimination in business is somewhat nuanced. About ten years ago, he was able, with great difficulty, to obtain land in a commune in the Thoothukudi district to set up his cooking gas cylinder distribution point. After a few years, when he had a competitor who belonged to an intermediate caste, he could observe many of his customers migrate to him.
The common complaint of many entrepreneurs is the reluctance of banks to provide loans. Although an official of the State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) dismissed it, the document containing the agenda for the 168th meeting of the SLBC held in December indicated that approximately 10,370 applications were pending at the end of September. 2021 for ₹139.25 crore. At a special SLBC meeting held in October, where Chief Minister MK Stalin was present, Principal Secretary (Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare) K. Manivasan said that despite the release of the government subsidy, the applications were pending with some of the major banks. .
SC contractors refer to the central government arrangement that of the target of 25% annual procurement from MSMEs, 4% should be reserved for SC contractors. They propose to the State to adopt a similar plan. Also, Tamil Nadu can emulate Karnataka’s program of 4% interest subsidy on loans sanctioned by Karnataka State Financial Corporation for expansion or modernization of units owned by SC/ST contractors. With more proactive measures, Tamil Nadu can reach the top spot in terms of number of units and job creation, they say.