Assam is the fulcrum of north-east part of India. Geographically and logistically, it is a center for commerce. Because of its strategic location, it is one of the most well connected states as compared to rest of north-eastern states. Most of the north-eastern states have enough natural resources to sustain themselves, be it human resources or natural resources; the north-eastern states are gifted abundantly.
But, due to inaccessibility and insurgency it has remain land locked, unable to grow to its full potential. Many youths from Assam as well as other neighboring states have migrated to other mainland states for work. This is particularly true for youths from the Barak Valley; the region has been marginalized economically as well as politically for many years.
The Barak valley which comprise of three administrative districts of Cachar, Karimganj, and Hailakandi are one of the peaceful areas as compared to other districts of Assam. But still, the living standard of people living here are below most of the citizens of Assam.
Now, the question comes how we can change that, how can we stop our youths from migrating to other towns and cities, how can we change the living standards of people living in Barak Valley. The answer is Entrepreneurship.
What is Entrepreneurship?
According to www.businessdictionary.com, Entrepreneurship means “The capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit. The most obvious example of entrepreneurship is the starting of new businesses.”
But, entrepreneurship can have different meanings. On one hand, it means starting a business to change the status quo of the existing industry or system. Similarly on the other, it means starting a business to work for himself or herself.
The word entrepreneur came from the French word “entreprendre”, that means “to undertake”. In commerce sense it means starting a business.
What is Rural Entrepreneurship
Rural entrepreneurship means entrepreneurial activities done in rural areas using rural resources actively engaging rural human resources. Their main aim should be rural development.
Why we need Rural Entrepreneurship
- Employment generation in rural areas
- Income generation in rural areas
- Overall development of rural areas
- Development of village republics
- Stop rural migration to urban areas
Types of Rural Entrepreneurship
Rural entrepreneurship can be classified broadly into four categories.
- Individual Entrepreneurship: It means single ownership of the business or enterprise.
- Group entrepreneurship : It means partnership between two or more persons (private limited company and public limited company)
- Cluster formation: In this type of entrepreneurship, various Non-Governmental Organizations(NGOs), Voluntary Organizations(VOs), Self-Help Groups(SHGs) and Community-Based Organizations(CBOs) can work together to start a business or enterprise.
- Cooperatives: In this type of entrepreneurship people join together voluntarily to form autonomous association for starting a business or enterprise
Sectors to Start Rural entrepreneurship
Usually any business or enterprise is product or service based. This is also true with any enterprise in rural areas. There are many products and services which can be leveraged form rural areas. For example, supplying rural products like handicrafts to urban populations or setting up services in rural areas replicating urban experiences.
There are many domains, where rural entrepreneurs can leverage form rural areas. The following are some of the areas:
Product sector for rural enterprise
- Food processing: This is one of the areas where entrepreneurs from Barak Valley can leverage from rural areas. Food processing industry covers many areas form agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry to fisheries. There are many products which are found in typical geographical conditions of north-east region; for example, sticky rice which is not commonly found in rest of India, tea of Barak Valley flavor, dried fish product which are typical of this area, are some of the products which can be produced and supplied to other areas.
- Poultry: Poultry farming is one of the areas which is perfectly suited for rural areas. It has many advantages like, it can be done as side business for additional income, it requires less capital to start a poultry farm, it requires little space and can be managed in phases, and it gives income throughout the year. Moreover, it is one of the most well organized agro-industry supported by government schemes.
- Dairy Farming: India is one of the largest milk producers and this sector has the potential to change the lives of rural populations. It is one of the industries which is totally backed by the government of India. The demands of dairy products are always increasing, and this gives an opportunity for rural populations to elevate their lives. There are many diary development schemes sponsored by the Government of India.
- Fisheries: Barak valley is perfectly suited for fisheries. Fish is one of the most traded products and one of the key factors in rural development . It is not only a food source; it also generates income and jobs in many communities. With many waterways and low lying areas, Barak Valley has huge potential for setting up enterprise in this sector.
- Cottage and Handicraft industry: Barak valley has a diverse population. It has many tribes and communities with different culture and traditions. This diversity can be a potential in handloom, cottage and handicraft industry. This sector has generated many jobs and income for rural populations and according to reports, this industry is a significant contributor to our country’s exports.
- Oil industry: Vegetable oil industry is an age-old village industry in rural population of India. Crushing oil seeds to obtain edible oil for human consumptions can be a potential for rural entrepreneurship. It has potential to generate employment as well as income to rural population.
- Pottery Industry: With environmental pollution taking center stage in world discussions. As a solution, many governments are reverting back to traditional pottery industry. In India, pottery products take special place in rural populations. From cooking, storing water and serving dishes, it is rationally used in every household. Even the urban Indian populations are adopting and using pottery in their daily lives.
Service sector for rural enterprise
- Service centers for Mobile phones, electronic and electrical goods :With revolution in technology and communications, Electronic media as well as internet has penetrated the lives of rural populations. Many rural household have Television, radios, DTH, mobile phones etc., which has created huge opportunities for service providers. Many rural youths can become self employed by becoming service providers for all rural needs. There are many vocational training programmes, which are available in many institutes. They require less investments and many government schemes are there for funding.
- Rural tourism: Barak valley has a culturally diverse population, which can be seen through the wealth of crafts, performing arts, cuisines and lifestyles. Popularizing crafts, tourist places, performing arts can create huge area for business. Example, creating fairs and festivals can create awareness about the culture and traditions of Barak Valley.
- Sports and leisure activities: It is not only true for Barak valley, but for the whole population of north-east, that there is a huge pool of human resources for sports and music. Setting up gyms, cultural centers can be a source for revenue generation. Example, many youngsters from the north-east states are undergoing trial sessions in big European football clubs. If anyone of these youngster plays for these clubs, then there will be investment for finding other similar talents.
- Business Outsourcings: The Internet has connected most of the population of the world. This connectivity has created opportunities for developing countries in areas like business outsourcing. Business outsourcing means outsourcing part of the business to a third party service provider. Rural entrepreneurs can set up business providing those services.
Challenges for Rural Entrepreneurship
- Difficulty in finding funds: Lack of knowledge about institutions providing funds as well as delay in availing loans from banks are major difficulties faced by rural entrepreneurs.
- Lack of entrepreneurial knowledge: Lack of knowledge, especially technical knowledge are major hurdles for rural entrepreneurs.
- Low buying power of rural population: Buying power of rural population is another factor but it is proportional to rural development.
- Infrastructure and logistics problems: Infrastructure forms the backbone of any enterprise. Lack of communication facilities and logistics adds up to the problems faced by rural entrepreneurs.
- Marketing problems: Marketing is a big problem for any enterprise and it is most certainly true for rural entrepreneurs. Most business don’t have enough information to handle their marketing needs
- Low skill levels of employees: Skilled workers or employees are another problem for rural entrepreneurs. Rural areas don’t have enough training institutes to train human resources.
Resources for Rural Entrepreneurs
1) District Industry Centres (DIC).
2) Centres for Entrepreneurship Development.
3) Small Industry Service Institutes (SISI).
4) Industrial Extension Bureaus known as INDEXTB, UdyogMitra, Udyog Sahay and etc.
5) National Industrial Development Corporation (NIDC), New Delhi.
6) Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
7) Commissioner of Cottage Industries.
8) Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDI), Ahmedabad.
9) National Institute of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development (NIESBUD), New Delhi.
10) National Institute of Small Industry Extension and Training, Hyderabad.
11) Small Industries Development Bank of India (SLDBI), Lucknow.
Training programmes launched by the government of India:
Training of rural youth for self-Employment (TRYSEM)
- Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana(PMRY)
- Swaranjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana(SGSY)
- Banking institutions like co-operative societies, Regional Rural Banks, Commercial banks.
- Developmental banks like Small Industries Developmental Banks of India (SIDBI), National Bank Of Agricultural and Rural Development (NABARD), National Housing Bank(NHB)
- Non-banking financial companies.
- Setting up of entrepreneurial centers in Assam University, National Institute of Technology (Silchar) and other institutions.
- Including curriculum about entrepreneurship in degree level colleges.
- Setting up information centers in Panchayat level.
- Involving non-resident population of Barak Valley in crowdsourcing entrepreneurial activities.
- Organizing seminars and presentations in Panchayat level involving women, students and village elders.
This is a brief summary about rural entrepreneurship and the impact it can have on the development of rural areas in Barak valley. If you have any inputs or suggestions to add to this topic, please feel free to share it in the comment box or you can mail us using our contact page.