After working several odd jobs in the private sector, Gangtok-based Gawasna Pradhan thought of starting a travel business in 2015.
After working several odd jobs in the private sector, Gangtok-based Gawasna Pradhan thought of starting a travel business in 2015. “Working for someone else never gave me any joy or satisfaction. I was always interested in meeting people, and tourism as a sector has immense potential in Sikkim… so nothing better than to combine the two to earn a living,” the 33-year-old says. Pradhan started with a small tour office in Gangtok with a luxury car, a commercial goods vehicle and a private car. But during peak tourist season, he always had more bookings than he could handle. “I had little money to procure another vehicle, as I was still establishing my business. At this juncture, I heard about the CMSS and it came as a boon,” he says.
Pradhan applied for a loan in December 2017 to buy an Innova. “My loan was passed within two months and I got Rs 5.43 lakh from the chief minister—I also took a loan of Rs 9.95 lakh from a bank, which I have to repay in the next five years. I could buy the SUV car I had always wanted to. It has given me a new lease of life,” he says.
His company, Abhinav Tours & Travels, had a successful tourist season early this year and Pradhan was able to prepay the first three bank installments. “The current generation, which is connected to the world through the smartphone, knows that entrepreneurship is the way to go. And with such financial assistance, we can now realise our dreams without any hurdles,” he adds.
It’s all organic
When Sikkim was struggling to become an organic state a few years back, Rushma Rai was busy acting in Nepalese films and ads, going there frequently to shoot. She was also running a small production house in Gangtok from where she produced documentaries and also operated an advertising agency. But when Sikkim became the country’s first fully organic state in 2016, a business idea struck Rai. “With every inch of land going organic, the demand for organic manure was going to increase manifold. So I thought, why not sell organic manure?” the 34-year-old says.
The capital for her business came in through the CMSS, her own savings and a bank loan. “Last month, I set up my factory of organic vermi-composting in Namong in east Sikkim. It is a small unit with 11 people,” Rai says, adding that she received Rs 5.25 lakh under the CMSS, which was 35% of the total project cost of Rs 15 lakh. “The government has also set up a consultancy hub (Entrepreneur’s Consultation Hub) in the (commerce and industries) ministry, where we can seek guidance and expert advice if needed,” she says.
The members of the hub are successful entrepreneurs (like Rewaj Chettri and Smita Rai) from diverse backgrounds who offer expert advice. Rai, who intends to give back to the state, conducts workshops to train village women on how to develop compost at home. “It will take at least six months before I start selling. Currently, we are looking at catering to Sikkim… once the business grows, the plan is to take it outside the state as well,” she says.