Small businesses to get money, mentoring, and more to help India’s hinterland go green and clean

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Published: December 23, 2019 3:11:05 PM

Credit and Finance for MSMEs: Villgro Innovation Foundation and Council on Energy, Environment and Water will be supporting at least five small enterprises deploying livelihood appliances powered by clean energy in rural areas.

The National Agriculture Policy (2000) has also advocated encouraging farm forestry, block forest, village wood lots and others, but the current share of agroforestry system stands at 3.39% of the geographical area. (Illustration: rohnit phore)‘Climate resilience’ is turning into a major sustainability problem for SMEs and small enterprises in rural industries. (Illustration: rohnit phore)

Credit and Finance for MSMEs: Villgro Innovation Foundation, which is among the earliest incubators for businesses focusing on social sectors, and research institution Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) will be supporting at least five small enterprises deploying livelihood appliances powered by clean energy. Businesses would be offered funding along with technical and sectoral support to help them with large-scale commercial operations in the coming three years. The support initiative is named Powering Livelihoods to work in rural areas and bolster them with clean energy products.

“India alone has more than $50 billion worth of market for clean energy solutions for rural livelihoods,” said Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, CEEW. Over 4 million rural micro-businesses in the recent past have said unavailability of the reliable power supply is the top challenge for them, said a statement by Villgro and CEEW. Thus, helping such enterprises with electricity not just creates new livelihood opportunities but also improves productivity, product value, and incomes. ‘Climate resilience’ is turning into a major sustainability problem for SMEs and small enterprises in rural industries. Fluctuations in energy cost, extreme weather conditions etc impact business of these enterprises, the statement added citing a recent Yes Bank report.

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The programme by Villgro and CEEW will be “highly significant in terms of capital, capacity building, and ecosystem support to help local enterprises in this domain survive and thrive while escaping the ‘commercial valley of death’,” Ghosh added. The programme will provide a grant of up to $250,000 to each enterprise for the commercial deployment of their product. Also based on the need, businesses will be given support services up to $100,000 via strategic tie-ups including mentoring, financial planning, compliance assistance, legal issues etc.

The core products in focus would be businesses deploying appliances such as clean energy-powered and/or energy-efficient cold storage, commercial food processors, juicers, dryers, milk chillers, flour mills, milking machines, rice hullers, and oil expellers, solar charkhas, sewing machines, paddle loom, jute machinery, and silk reelers. The applications for the programme are open until January 5, 2020.

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