Rural entrepreneurs in Odisha involved in mask-making under SVEP: EDII

• 51 entrepreneurs make and supply around 260 masks per day in blocks of Morada, Ranpur, Anugul Sadar, Puri Sadar in Odisha.
• 27,200 masks made and sold in the state till date
• Around 500 rural entrepreneurs under SVEP in India have so far produced and sold 3.5 lakh masks for local frontline warriors like Govt. Officials, Doctors, Policemen, Media, Cleaning Staff and Volunteers

Bhubaneswar: The MSME sector has been the worst hit with the coronavirus pandemic. Small businesses and the informal sector workforce have got significantly impacted as countries across the world go into lockdown. However, a few micro enterprises have converted this scourge into an opportunity. Around 500 rural entrepreneurs under Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP), a sub-scheme of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM), Ministry of Rural Development which is implemented by EDII, are currently involved in manufacturing masks for frontline warriors who are fighting the pandemic. In Odisha, 51 entrepreneurs who were trained under SVEP are making around 260 masks per day in blocks of Morada, Ranpur, Anugul Sadar, Puri Sadar in Odisha. These entrepreneurs have made and sold around 27,200 masks in the state till date.

SVEP is being implemented by Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (EDII), Ahmedabad, an acknowledged national resource Institute for Entrepreneurship Education, Research, Training and Institution Building. The objective of SEVP programme is to create sustainable self-employment and finding opportunities for youths along with promoting entrepreneur networking. Through SVEP, micro-enterprises and youth entrepreneurs are provided training and adequate business skills to ensure their long-term survival and growth.

In all 61 blocks, across 14 states India is being covered under the programme whose main objective is to promote micro entrepreneurs and create an ecosystem in which these micro entrepreneurs flourish and sustain in long run. The 4-year programme commenced implementation in the year 2016. Till date, 37,688 people have been imparted training and 36,370 micro-enterprises (including group enterprises) have been promoted under this program. But, under the current pandemic situation, some businesses started facing grave difficulties which reflected in their poor sale and earnings. However, some of these trained entrepreneurs when heard about the shortage of masks in the market, pitched in to use their skills in preparing masks. Some had received training in tailoring and diverted their energies towards production of masks whereas a few others imbibed skills and stood up to face the situation.

Today, around 500 SVEP trained entrepreneurs are making and selling around 2,500 masks per day in blocks of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Haryana. These entrepreneurs have so far collectively sold 3.5 lakh masks to frontline warriors like Doctors, Policemen, Media, Cleaning Staff and Volunteers. The masks are being made under all hygienic conditions wherein the raw material is provided by the authorities who also monitor that the work is done as per the norms and standards. While this has addressed the problem of shortage of masks, it has also ensured a regular source of revenue for these micro entrepreneurs.

Explaining the scale of the project, Dr. Rajesh Gupta, Project Head, SVEP-EDII said, “These are entrepreneurs who lack the cushion of resources and savings and hence are worst affected in these times. But I am glad to see that they consulted their local EDII mentors, used their training and decided not to kneel before the situation. With support from the respective State Rural Livelihoods Missions and local administration, they are producing face-masks on a large scale and are thus contributing their bit to battle this crisis. They are earning and learning in the process. In their training programs, they were trained to innovate and adapt to changing environment. Their actions in the present scenario prove that their training has been successful. I am convinced that this experiment of training people at such a large scale to make them micro entrepreneurs has proved successful.”

Such a resolute mind-set and a spirit of innovation in times of crisis are important for entrepreneurs especially micro-enterprise, who are resource constrained and even a small upheaval can uproot them. The current pandemic crisis in our country has sent across a lesson that it is highly important and advisable to invest in build capacities to create micro-enterprises.