Challenges of Shillong’s Self-employed Youth!

I remember when I was doing a self-study on the failure of some Self-Help Groups in Jaintia Hills & Cooperative Societies around Shillong, I got a chance to interact with one of our policy makers who has always been supportive of self-employment opportunities and startups, he narrated that the funding provided by banks or funding agencies for SHGs is majorly a capital loan but the entire portion of the consumption loan is totally neglected. If the consumption loan is not facilitated by the Govt, how does one expect SHGs or Unemployed youth to take a step in entrepreneurship or self-employment?

People speak a lot about access to the market or logistics as the main reason of running the business but currently our local entrepreneurs can explore the market on their own. As per the report from Business Standard dated 19th April 2017, the Central Government under the existing National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) offers loans to women SHGs at a low rate of 7% per annum between Rs.1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakhs. If I take a loan calculation of 1 lakh rupees for a year, the easy monthly installment or EMI would come around Rs.8916 inclusive of the 7% interest rate. This assistance is helpful for matured SHGs that has evolved for 5 to 6 years but from Meghalaya’s perspective, it’s just an emergency fund but need to pitch in from other sources, like Ujjivan or Bandhan to continue with their work. Women SHGs would at least have five members in one SHG but a loan of Rs.8333 monthly would fetch them a monthly financial assistance of Rs.1666 to continue with their trade. Financial wisdom is natural for women but an assistance of Rs.1666 is just 50% of their basic needs, if the Govt can provide another 50% more as grant, I’m sure women SHGs would be encouraged to start small trades, like weaving of woolen materials or stitching of clothes at home because running a tailor shop on rent would be financially impossible for them. Gradually their small trades, with the support of family members and social circles would gradually enable them to excel in their trade and enhance productivity.

Besides the above financial support under the NRLM, social support plays an important role, like having a mentor for guidance or even counsellors that would also listen to their grievances because as a working professional, stress is something everyone goes through especially when there is a lack of social security for their families like education and healthcare. Naturally women members of SHGs would prefer to take a back seat if their children couldn’t get proper sleep or adequate nutrition, this in turn affects their productivity in SHGs. Direct Benefit Transfer or DBT is a plus point if it reaches the citizen directly besides the social benefits launched by the government like Ayushman Bharat, PMMY commonly known as MUDRA loans for SHGs, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and so on and so forth.

SHGs and Entrepreneurs in Shillong or other towns of Meghalaya has survived in the toughest times be it in demonetization or public unrest because of a strong social structure that has existed since time immemorial. The presence of kinship or “Ki Kur, ki Kha” in the form of “Dorbar Kur” or community engagement like “Dorbar Dong” or “Dorbar Shnong” has lifted many young entrepreneurs from the clutch of depression and if one does a thorough study on the Economy of Meghalaya, one would be surprised to know about the current state of affairs despite the poor per-capita income that continues to prevail. The demerits of any democratic institution can’t be denied but if one looks at the broader interest, these traditional institutions has contributed a lot in bringing better HDI indicators.

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