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Turning fresh graduates into budding entrepreneurs: NEEDS shows the way

Collector K. Rajamani inspecting a latex printing unit started by a 24-year-old engineering graduate in Tiruchi.

After drawing a tepid response initially, the New Entrepreneur-cum-Enterprise Development Scheme (NEEDS) of the State government has gradually started attracting viable projects in Tiruchi district to help achieve the scheme’s objective of fostering first-generation entrepreneurs.

With the defence corridor set to run through Tiruchi, officials of the Department of Industries see a good opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs to tap the emerging opportunities in the sector by leveraging NEEDS, which offers substantial subsidy and interest subvention benefits. The credit limit under the scheme is also set to be hiked.

Although the scheme launched in 2012-13 was seen as a boon for first-time entrepreneurs, the number of proposals received for the scheme and the subsidy utilisation was less than the targets in the initial years. District officials say the response to the scheme has gradually improved.

Under NEEDS, viable projects from educated youth are extended up to ₹1 crore through Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation (TIIC) or banks with 25% capital subsidy and 3% interest subvention, making it a potentially attractive scheme for fresh graduates looking to turn entrepreneurs. A government order hiking the credit limit to ₹5 crore is expected soon, Collector K. Rajamani told reporters after inspecting a latex printing unit financed under the scheme in Tiruchi on Wednesday.

The latex printing unit, established at a cost of about ₹1.61 crore, is claimed to be a first-of-its-kind in the State. The imported machine uses eco-friendly raw materials to produce bill boards and signage for corporates, says A. Reuban, a 24-year-old engineering graduate, who decided to take up his own venture with the support of his sister and brother-in-law. He got the maximum permissible subsidy of ₹25 lakh for the venture under NEEDS.

Calling upon youngsters to utilise the scheme, Mr. Rajamani said 22 ventures that took off during 2017-18 were extended subsidy to the tune of ₹2 crore. During the current financial year, a subsidy disbursal target of ₹3.70 crore to 36 projects had been fixed for the district.

S. Kandasamy, General Manager, District Industries Centre, said 66 ventures, including several service sector projects, took off under NEEDS in the district since its introduction. Since MSME fabrication units in Tiruchi were going through a difficult phase, the emerging defence corridor offered a good opportunity for first-generation entrepreneurs to break new ground.

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