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Kalraj Mishra gears up to mentor SMEs The minister says need of the hour is to build the future along with 40 million registered MSMEs as they are the backbone of the economy.

By Entrepreneur India

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Kalraj Mishra, Union Cabinet Mister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

A great thinker and an effective orator, Kalraj Mishra, Union Cabinet Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, is all set to guide and mentor MSMEs. He, who made his debut at the Centre in 2014 after winning the 16th General Assembly Election, last year, is quite positive about the growth of entrepreneurship in the country. On 27 May, the leader was appointed as the Minister of MSME under Narendra Modi's prime ministership. He is slowly taking one step at a time to remove bottlenecks from growth path of MSMEs in India.

Coming from a middle class Brahmin agriculturist family of a very small0 village Malikpur (Saidpur) of Ghazipur District, Uttar Pradesh, Mishra knows how difficult it is for the people in rural areas or low-income group to earn their living. He believes that the opportunity lies in developing and exploring enterprises in rural areas. "People want to be an entrepreneur in India," he says. The minister says need of the hour is to build the future along with 40 million registered MSMEs as they are the backbone of the economy.

Entrepreneur catches up with the minister recently; he seems to be energetic and excited about the initiatives his ministry is taking to boost the MSME sector. Mishra is actually living and learning with entrepreneurs. "We should now transform people from being unemployed to be self-employed," says Mishra.

Enterprise growth

Indian start-up ecosystem has really taken off well due to factors, such as consolidation activities, massive funding, evolving technology and a burgeoning domestic market. The country will grow from 3,100 startups in 2014 to more than 11,500 by 2020. Mishra expresses that the youth has the idea but it should be executed fast. "The youth has the power to innovate.

They have the mind to bring up innovative ideas on the table," he says further. "The development and employment of the youth is an essential part of the society," says the minister. Moreover, there are tremendous opportunities to build up micro enterprises in the rural areas. "There are people, labour and artisans in rural areas, producing various types of products. Rural artisans are not able to promote products in the market. We are trying to help this category of people. We need to increase income and generate potential employment in rural areas," he says.

In fact, Prime Minister Modi has recently launched the Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd (Mudra) that provides refinancefacility for banks to fulfil the needs of micro enterprises in the country. "The Mudra is about to fund micro units. It is a good move taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Timely and adequate financial support can help individuals in setting up micro enterprises in the country," the minister adds.

Connecting woman entrepreneurs

After promoting overall growth of the MSME sector, the government is currently focusing on promoting woman entrepreneurship in the country. The minister is now seeking proposals for starting enterprises by women. SWAYAM, a support cell for women entrepreneurs, has been recently launched by Mishra to boost entrepreneurship among women. Mishra says, "I believe that unless we rekindle the spirit of entrepreneurship among women, the nation cannot progress." These initiatives will help to promote entrepreneurship and professional excellence among women.

The Dell Women's Global Entrepreneurship Study reveals optimism and opportunity for woman-owned businesses in India. Woman business owners in India are feeling confident and anticipate a median growth of 90 per cent over the next five years. This compared favourably with that of the US (50 per cent) and the UK (24 per cent).

Funding technology

The government is aiming to provide facilities for technology upgradation. "To buy the latest technology, MSMEs need fund, which is not available easily. In such cases, the Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme provides 15 per cent capital subsidy for entrepreneurs," says Mishra. The scheme facilitates technology upgradation of tiny and SSI (Small Scale Industry) units in specified products.

In fact, the individuals desiring to set up new units also require working capital. The Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises is helping entrepreneurs to get collateral loan up to Rs 1 crore. "This scheme has been helpful for MSMEs to procure technology," says the minister.

Employing youth

There is a need for greater participation of industry in driving the Skill India movement. "Without skill development, the MSME sector cannot grow," he says and adds, "The National Skill India Mission can foster growth by providing educational and industrial training for youth." With the vision of Prime Minister Modi's "Digital India" concept, the minister has recently launched the Digital Employment Exchange for industries.

"The digital employment exchange is in line with prime minister's vision of "Digital India' where through this employment exchange for industries, job seekers can find employers and vice versa," he says. The initiative aims at strengthening communication between stakeholders and improving efficiencies in service delivery in the MSME Ministry.

(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October, 2015 Issue).

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