** Journey Of Start-Up Chanpatia **

As per the reports of WHO, COVID-19 put the whole world in an unprecedented crisis and lingering uncertainty, generalized economic depression, unemployment, Quarantine, unavoidable Lockdown & travel-ban that was imposed globally as a necessity to tackle the pandemic. Among the populace, the migrants were found to be one of the most vulnerable groups in this lockdown, as their very livelihood came to a complete standstill.
COVID-19 brought about a massive change to the existing systems and generated a whirlpool of hurdles that the people had never faced before or had no idea how to overcome. This eventually created overwhelming fear and mounting anxiety among the people due to the novelty of the crisis & the uncertainty it brought with it.
The COVID-19 Lockdown, imposed to tackle the pandemic & to rein in its outspread, has turned the economy into a new situation of “Reverse Migration” in which people returned back from the working place to the Native place. From Decades, going to other states for better economic prospect has been a way of life in West Champaran District. Hence, this District also received large number of returnees who had the pressing need to head back home in an unprecedented crisis. They returned back from various parts of India e.g., Surat, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mumbai, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka etc. & abroad like Dubai, Qatar, with lost livelihood & in a state of distress, after the nationwide Lockdown imposed in the year 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19. Returnees were afraid of going back & wanted to get their Livelihood here as a number of them had bitter experience with their employers as well as the uncertainty & Fear COVID-19 brought with it.
It is said that- “unprecedented time requires unprecedented measures.” “Navpravartan” Startup Zone, Chanpatia provided an innovative solution to the plight of returnees who faced grave financial & psychosocial crisis and lost their livelihood due to the unprecedented calamity of COVID-19. The move of Setting up of the “Navpravartan” Startup Zone, Chanpatia in West Champaran District is an Innovative and Transformational step towards realizing the true potential of these returnees, providing them Livelihood solutions near to home, fueling economic growth of the District by Bulk production Model using latest technologies, generating employment, nurturing entrepreneurial Ecosystem & providing an efficient public service delivery system leading us to the goal of “AtmaNirbhar Bharat”. It has not only helped returnees to set up their own production units & brands with the help of district administration, but also created thousands of direct and indirect employments in the home district. It was evolved amidst the COVID-19 Crisis and the tools used were innovatively devised to provide solution in a minimal time as it required very swift solution to facilitate the returnees to set up their Production units here & get the livelihood. For the District Administration it was the most challenging period as this crisis was completely unforeseen and unheard of. In one hand Administration was fighting with this unforeseen Pandemic crisis by creating & managing more & more Isolation centers, DCHCs, Providing better health facility, receiving thousands of returnees to the District, managing & receiving so many Special trains from various parts of India, running hundreds of Quarantine Camps, arranging for their food & stay with COVID protocols with many logistical constraints due to Lockdown, containing the outspread, ensuring Lockdown and on the other hand the District Administration was taking an arduous task to turn this challenging adversity into opportunity by setting up this Startup zone following the Mantra of Hon. PM- “ Jaan Bhi, Jahan Bhi” which implied the Administration had to focus on not just saving lives but also on kickstarting the economy and livelihood.
The very design of this innovative model is Participative in which expertise, Know -how and suggestions of returnees was incorporated at every level. An important innovative step in this initiative was to form “Udyami Mitra Mandals”. These returnees became points of contact for the entire Quarantine camp (even after leaving the camp) making it easier for us to keep in touch with them and getting continuous ideas from them. Since these returnees understood the nitty-gritty of their respective industries, administration asked members of Udyami Mitra Mandals to come up with detailed plans of setting up of Production Units.
DRCC (District Registration & Counselling Centre), West Champaran has been designated as a one-point facility for Counselling, Grievance Redressal and feedback mechanism. Besides that, social media handles of District Administration also helps in that which is regularly monitored. Main Stakeholders of this initiative are the parts of “Udyami Mitra Mandals” and they not only put their Grievances before the administration but also helped in conceptualizing the entire initiative. An officer assigned as SPOC (Single Point Of Contact) to each udyami helped in taking Feedback and Grievance redressal.
It’s a sustainable innovative model in which expertise, Know -how and experiences of Stakeholders is participatively included in the very design of the model. Though the initiative was taken by the district administration, it is holistically integrated and channelized through the Industry Department of the state and BIADA for sustainability. Industry Department has adopted this model in its District Industrial Innovation Scheme for its replication in other Districts of the State. Important Aspects of Logistics, Raw material, market linkages, Regular Loan repayment, Latest trends of products etc are continuously monitored and taken care of. Also latest Machines have been imported for enabling Bulk Production at cheaper rate which provide regular competitive advantage.
There was no such Scheme/project which could immediately address this crisis situation. Also, there was no such existing set up or industry to provide employment & to re-integrate these returnee migrant workers in West Champaran District. Hence by conceptualizing many innovative aspects like- Skill Profiling of each returnee & preparing digital database, Forming “Udyami Mitra Mandals”, Providing an officer of District Administration as SPOC (Single Point Of Contact) to each Udyami, Creating Plug & Play model by taking warehouses & setting up Startup Zone spread in 20 acres for instant space allocation for production unit, Creating Design Studio, QA Facility, Brand Design, importing latest machines etc & tweaking the existing schemes this first-of-its-kind framework of “Navpravartan” Startup zone was conceptualized and when the India Locked Down, West Champaran started up. The idea was to tap the great potential of varied skill pool of these workers to provide employment solutions that were closer to home. Initially Banks were reluctant but with weekly review meetings & Loan Melas the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) Loan was sanctioned within a fortnight which earlier used to take even a year. Latest Machines like 40 feet long Computer added Embroidery Machines, Laser operated beading machine, CAD operated Knitting machine etc. were imported to create it a Bulk production hub. This Startup zone houses 57 returnee’s Production units with more than 400 machines running & items worth Rs 15 crore have been sold in various part of India including Surat and Ludhiana & even exported leading us to the goal of “Atmanirbhar Bharat”. It has created thousands of direct and indirect employments in the home district. Besides this, hundreds of returnees have started their units outside the startup zone too. About 141 udyamis have applied for space allocation for starting their units. The Startup Zone, churn out a host of different offerings, from shirts, lowers, track suits, jackets, Saree, lehnga, suits, sanitary pads and footwears, to Steel utensils and cricket bats & sale numbers are huge like 1,35,000 trousers, 1,01,000 leggings, 63,000 Track suits, 8 lakh Sanitary Pads, 13 lakhs Mask etc. These returnees have grown from migrant workers to owners and their happiness is palpable because there exists a real sense of ownership. Aamil, 35, who used to work in Dubai in a textile company and returned back says:
“I had no clue after returning back here. The situation started turning grimmer day by day and I lost all hopes to go back to work. During the skill mapping test started by local authorities, I got an opportunity to interact with top officials who helped me a lot in setting up my company. The officials kept in touch and provided the platform needed to develop the business initially. Now, we are getting huge orders and working continuously to fulfill demand from local markets, he said. “My plan is to not just settle myself. It’s to give an opportunity to more people, so that we make West Champaran the next Surat or Ludhiana,” said Arun Kumar, who used to work in Surat. “Navpravartan” Startup Zone has turned a challenging Adversity into Opportunity & realized the Mantra of “Aapda Me Awsar” in true spirit.