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SVEP: Making rural entrepreneurship sustainable and scalable

A field study highlights the success stories and social innovations, besides, shows the roadmap to scale up Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme to every district of the country
SVEP: Making rural entrepreneurship sustainable and scalable
SVEP: Making rural entrepreneurship sustainable and scalable (Aarohan bulb and spices made by rural entrepreneurs in Ghauranda, Karnal under SVEP)

A field study, conducted by Dr Arvind P Arahant, Project Director, Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) and Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) along with Prof. Arvind Kumar, Dean, Atal Bihari Vajpayee School of Management and Entrepreneurship (ABVSME), JNU under a major research project sponsored by Mahatma Gandhi National Council of Rural Education, Government of India, highlights the success stories and social innovations, besides, shows the roadmap to scale up SVEP to every district of the country. Haryana State Rural Livelihoods Mission, a state-run agency under the state’s Ministry of Rural Development provided the support and facilitated the field plan. Dr Arvind P Arahant and Prof Arvind Kumar write the findings of the study.

Ministry of Rural Development launched an ambitious Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) as a sub-scheme of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana –National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) in 2015. It aimed at supporting the rural populace to set up enterprises and provide support till the enterprises stabilise. The programme focuses on providing self-employment opportunities with financial assistance and training in business management and soft skills while creating local community cadres for the promotion of enterprises.

SVEP addresses three major pillars of rural start-ups namely – finances, incubation and skill ecosystems. Activities under SVEP are strategically designed to promote rural enterprises, one of the key areas is to develop a pool of community resource persons – enterprise promotion (CRP-EP) who are local and support entrepreneurs setting up rural enterprises. Another key area is to promote the Block Resource Centre (BRC) in SVEP blocks, monitor and manage the community resource persons, appraise SVEP loan application and acts as the repository of enterprise-related information in the concerned block. BRCs play the role to support a sustainable revenue model to operate effectively and independently.

A mid-term review of SVEP which was conducted in September 2019 by the Quality Council of India shows about 82 per cent of the sampled entrepreneurs across the blocks reported being from SC, ST and OBC categories which signify social inclusion – one of the pillars of NRLM. 75 per cent of the enterprises were owned and managed by women and the average monthly revenue of enterprises was Rs.39,000 – Rs.47,800 in case of manufacturing, Rs.41,700 in case of services and Rs.36,000 in case of trading. The study also shows that about 57 per cent of the total household income of the entrepreneurs is through SVEP enterprises.

Impact Assessment of SVEP

Mahatma Gandhi National Council of Rural Education (MGNCRE), Ministry of Education, GoI sponsored a major research project’s field study titled “Impact Assessment of Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) in Gujarat & Haryana” recently conducted by Atal Bihari Vajpayee School of Management and Entrepreneurship (ABVSME), JNU and found several success stories concerning rural livelihood promotion, convergence social development, women empowerment, financial and social inclusion. It was observed that by filling up some gaps, the programme can be scaled up from the present 156 blocks to over 6,600 blocks (773 districts) in the country. The SVEP has full potential to transform the lives of rural people through help the rural poor come out of poverty.

Our team visited Gharaunda (Karnal) and Pinjore (Panchkula) Haryana and met CRP-EPs and SVEP beneficiaries in December 2021. ‘Impact Assessment of Start-Up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) in Gujarat & Haryana’ was not an easy task. The fieldwork was divided into two phases. The first was two days in the Gharaunda block of Karnal district another two days were in the Pinjore block of Panchkula district from 20th- 24th of December 2021.

Gharaunda: A Tale of Woman Empowerment & Entrepreneurship   

Barkha is CRP, as well as an entrepreneur of SVEP, employed in the spices unit in her village in Gharaunda. She said that the spices unit has improved her life and she hopes to transform the little unit into a spices factory soon. Started the business 2-3 years back and they hope that with some more marketing they can eventually increase their output and the variety of spices they sell. “We are not seeing much profit yet, but I’m sure we will soon,” Barkha added.

“I am now able to single-handedly meet the financial needs of my son’s education and other necessity of home,” she said, Being the family’s sole earner, she now earns Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per month, also, on the other hand, earning depends upon the seasons. In season, she earns over Rs 25,000 and is now able to save money in a bank account to secure her children’s higher education and for her big spices factory. She brings raw materials from Delhi and other parts of Haryana. She also sells her spices in Kurukshetra Mela, Yamuna food court, and in the Mela organised by SVEP.

Aarohan: Creating a Brand 

There are a large number of women who benefited from SVEP. Pinky, a resident of Kalra village is yet another SVEP beneficiary. She owns an electrical shop and it is also managed by her husband who is working as an electrician in a nearby hospital. She assembles LED bulbs by herself and supplies these bulbs to Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab. By forming a self-help group (SHG), the production has now crossed 50,000 units. Sometimes Government also buys in lots of quantities. The brand name of the bulb is ‘Aarohan’ and it is becoming popular with each passing day. Recently district administration of Karnal bought 70,000 bulbs from her, she said.

Jyoti is a resident of Khunda Wali Gali of Alipur Khalsa village. She is doing pottery making and making chai (tea) cups, Diya (clay lamps), and decorative items made up of mud/clay. She said the pottery business has helped her in becoming an entrepreneur and uplifted her from poverty.

During our visits, we also identified some gaps and limitations. It was observed that there is no proper training of the staff to understand the SVEP mechanisms. There is a need for proper policy and guidelines for the implementation of SVEP.

Previously, given the limitation and lack of support, rural entrepreneurship was not at all sustainable. However, with the implementation of SVEP, there is hope among people and the government has also streamlined the process and practices. Rural women and their self-help groups have started showcasing their business acumen and transformed their lives. Currently, the programme has been implemented in 150 blocks in nearly 60 districts and it can be scaled up to over 6,000 blocks in 773 districts of the country. 

Way Forward 

To make rural entrepreneurship, some gaps, identified by the study, need to be filled. Proper guidelines for the transfer of loans to the beneficiaries and recovery of the loan need to be in place. Secondly, the allowances to CRPs for visits are very low and to motivate them for optimal outcomes, they should be given an adequate or rational allowance for visits as each CRP has allotted more than three villages for tracing their entrepreneur. For maintaining the records and data entry by the CRPs of entrepreneur details, sometimes tablets or apps do not work and there is no technical staff to resolve the problem. It is a big pain point for the CRPs.

The programme has successfully been empowering women in rural areas, however, there is also a need to include men in the mechanism. It is promising to note that majority of entrepreneurs are women and they are members of SHGs. All CRPs are women and an inclusive approach would add value to it. Moreover, non-SHG members should not face any problems in getting the benefits of SVEP.

Overall, the SVEP is all set to transform the lives of rural people and women entrepreneurs have shown their capabilities to lead. Further, policy push and support would be needed to implement the programme across the country with the same vigour.

(Views expressed in the article are authors’ own.)

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The Changing Face of Rural India