The micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector, which is a source of self-employment with low levels of capital, is believed to provide one of the quickest routes to correcting imbalances in a developing society.
Since women form almost 50 per cent of the population, this segment cannot be neglected if socio-economic challenges are to be addressed. Thinking along these lines, the Uttar Pradesh government has started the Women Entrepreneurship Promotion Scheme 2014-15 to empower women and ensure their participation in the process of industrialisation.
Under the scheme, unemployed women are eligible for easy seed capital to start their own micro or small enterprise. The loan, provided by nationalised banks, financial institutions or the State Financial Corporation, is for the purchase of plant and machinery.
The beneficiaries are entitled to a loan of Rs 50,000 per year at five per cent interest, subject to a ceiling of Rs 250,000 in five years. This scheme is applicable to both manufacturing and service sector units, as defined by the Union MSME ministry.
Besides, under the cluster development scheme, the state government is encouraging micro-level and individual traditional industries and handicraft units to form a special purpose vehicle (SPV).
The collection of 25 or more such units would qualify for benefits under a scheme that seeks to boost traditional Indian craft such as chikankari, terracotta, zari, zardozi and toys. Each cluster is a collection of homogenous units belonging to a particular industry.
The cluster comprises a common facilitation centre to aid in design, production, training, R&D, raw material storage, production display and information sharing. The Central government provides 70 per cent of the Rs 15 crore under the scheme.
Major MSME pockets in UP, include Varanasi, Allahabad, Moradabad, Saharanpur, Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Ferozabad, Meerut, Bhadohi, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bareilly, Gorakhpur, Khurja, Aligarh and Mathura.
These are generally product-specific hubs. Varanasi is famous for banarasi sarees, Agra and Kanpur for leather, Bhadohi for carpets, Moradabad for brassware, Lucknow for chikan, and Aligarh for locks.