India has embarked on a mission to Atmanirbharta or self-reliance, and we are aware that the journey cannot be completed if the path doesn’t take with itself all sections of the society- including those who are considered socially weaker. For years the growth of the country has been centred at the socially advanced classes and genders, and as we move forward, it’ll be safe to say that the country has realised the need for inclusivity and collective growth.
What is Stand-Up India?
Movements like Stand-Up India is are such programmes that help achieve the mission of sustainable and equitable growth. The programme was first launched in 2016 by the government of India in an attempt to support and promote entrepreneurship among women, Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST). This programme came in line with the government’s objective to promote entrepreneurship in the country in an attempt to boost the manufacturing sector for the said goal of self-sustenance or Aatmanirbharta, as well as the aim to undertake inclusive growth by providing special benefits to the socially weaker sections. These benefits included facilitation of loans between Rs 10 Lakh and 1 Crore to at least one Scheduled caste or Scheduled Tribe borrower and at least one woman borrower per bank branch for setting up a Greenfield enterprise.
What are Greenfield Enterprises?
Greenfield enterprises refer to projects which are not constrained by prior work in the sense that no remodelling or demolition of an existing structure is required on the land where the enterprise is said to start its functioning. This enterprise may be in manufacturing, services, agriculture allied activities or the trading sector. In case of non-individual enterprises, at least 51% of the shareholding and controlling stake should be held by either an SC or ST or woman entrepreneur.
How have been the results of this plan yet?
Despite this, the female labour force participation of the country showed a decline for the rural women and a stagnation in the participation rate for urban women back in 2020, which is not a good sign for a developing economy such as India. While India has become the world’s 5th largest economy, its workforce participation rate of women has sharply declined and today compares with that of Arab nations.
Women’s workforce participation is declining in rural India and is low and stagnant in urban India, primarily due to the shrinking of the agriculture sector. A striking reason for the same was credited to the India’s 2019 unemployment crisis, observing which it implied that most women of the country were employees as opposed to employers and/or business owners. According to a 2019 report by Google and Bain & Company, women were already the worst hit by India’s unemployment crisis. While the overall Indian unemployment rate was at 7 percent before India’s March lockdown, it was already as high as 18 percent for women. A preliminary study found that Indian women have already lost more jobs than men during the COVID-19 pandemic. This distinction on job fronts between male and female employees, along with the ever-so stagnant gender wage gap has been one of the most prominent reasons for the stagnation of female labour force participation of the developing country, the rate is the lowest amongst all South Asian countries, with every four out of five women not working in the country. The men’s workforce participation rate is four times as that of women, providing a grim image of the female job prospect in the country.
What is the latest improvement in the Stand-Up India Movement?
As a result, earlier this Sunday, the finance ministry announced an extension to the Stand-up India programme for the coming 4 years, till 2025. “Banks have sanctioned Rs 25,586 crore to about 1,14,322 beneficiaries under the Stand-Up India Scheme in the last five years for promoting entrepreneurship among women and SC & STs. This scheme, which has been extended up to 2025, covers Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe and/or women entrepreneurs, above 18 years of age”, said the Finance Ministry while talking about the extension of the scheme. The extension is said to further promote the initiative of women entrepreneurship it took in 2016 and will help them start an enterprise in trading, manufacturing and services sector, by both trainee and ready borrowers. Started in April 5, 2016, the scheme has benefited 93,094 women entrepreneurs with outstanding loan of Rs 21,200 crore as of March 23. The extension and increased allocation would also help support the women job seekers that got unemployed in the pandemic year and are seeking alternative sources of income as the Indian economy is headed for a recovery in 2021.
“In the case of non-individual enterprises, 51 percent of the shareholding and controlling stake should be held by either SC or ST, and/or Women Entrepreneur and borrowers should not be in default to any bank/financial institution”, said the finance ministry. The increase in allocation and extension to the scheme is said to come at a handy time because the growth of the country is predicted to pick up in the current financial year by experts, directly pointing at the opportunity to cater the increased demand or eventually, the increased income with the increased output as in lines with the government’s Atmanirbhar initiative, opening doors for opportunities in the entrepreneurship sector. “We could be looking at a pickup in growth in India and therefore having some cyclicals in the portfolio would make some sense including industrial cyclicals and to some extent, consumer cyclicals and that’s different from what we are seeing in other emerging markets at the moment,” said Jonathan Garner, chief – Asia and Emerging Market equity strategist at Morgan Stanley.