GUWAHATI, June 20 - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today organised a consultation on social entrepreneurship related to agriculture, handloom and handicraft sectors in Assam to help the mid-level entrepreneurs expand their area of work and find proper market linkage.
Speaking at the inaugural session of the event, Dr JB Ekka, Principal Secretary, Transformation and Development Department said the model of social entrepreneurship would go a long way in helping the local artisans and craftsmen, who find it difficult to locate a viable market and expand their business.
“We have a lot of potential in the field of handloom, handicraft, bamboo and agriculture sectors in Assam. But the resources are not utilised to the optimum because our artisans are not being able to find bigger markets. Our craftsmen may be the masters of their skill, yet, we cannot expect them to be the experts of marketing. A proper channel is thus required,” he stated.
UNDP in partnership with Exim Bank is implementing the project ‘Capacity building of the MSMEs in North East India for export competitiveness’ for creating stronger MSMEs in the North East to boost export, generate employment and provide livelihood opportunities to the youths and women of the region.
Earlier, John Borgoyary, regional head, NE, UNDP while explaining the objectives of the programme, said that in order to promote the export potential of the NE region, strengthening of the MSME sector is required.
“We are ready to do the necessary handholding of the entrepreneurs, NGOs and clusters interested in expanding their work and finding good market to promote their product. As we would do the capacity building, our target is to get at least one bankable proposal from each of the NE states, on the basis of which the export potential of the region can be strengthened,” he said.
Though the initial focus of the project is Assam and Mizoram, gradually the remaining states of the region would also be covered.
In his keynote address, Debasish Mallick, Deputy Managing Director of Exim Bank said quality upgrade should be the main focus of strengthening the MSMEs, with an aim to make the venture more sustainable. “With the government’s Act East Policy in place, the local artisans here can venture into the South East Asian market through proper support,” he added.
NEDFi Chairman and Managing Director BP Muktieh also shared his experience of working with the clusters in the field of handloom and handicraft and stressed the need for proper finance and capacity building of such groups and clusters. Rupali Kalita, MD, North East Small Finance Bank also spoke.
The event brought together mid-level social entrepreneurs in the three sectors from Assam and representatives from other NE states.