On 23rd March 2020, India announced its nationwide LOCKDOWN following the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases across the country. Lockdown resulted in complete closure of all the factories and industrial establishments rendering thousands of Migrant workers with no employment and livelihood. With nowhere to go, these Workers started to return to their native places.
West Champaran in Bihar is one such district which welcomed around 80,000 of its natives during the Pandemic. The District Administration under the State Government followed necessary COVID protocols, screened and accommodated them in quarantine camps. Of all, the main challenge lies ahead for the District Administration was to provide a better and sustainable livelihood to the returnees.
Journey Of Start-Up Chanpatia
District Industrial Innovation Scheme
As per the directions from Industries Dept, Bihar, the District Registration and Counselling Centre (DRCC) was formed to enhance the employment opportunities. The State Government also implemented “District Industrial Innovation Scheme” to provide means of employment to home coming workers at local level on war footing. Adding to this, the ‘Bihar Industrial Investment Promotion Policy’ has also been extended by many amendments. The scheme encouraged the establishment of micro and small units with various forward and backward linkages. The responsibility to execute was rested upon the district administration.
“Efforts By DistrictAdministration”
Skill Mapping exercise
During their stay inside quarantine camps, workers were identified and mapped according to their skills and the data were carefully collated. We were fortunate enough to know that the skill pool possessed by the workers were in the diverse areas like Computer added designing, Embroidery, Weaving, Sewing, Paver block manufacturing, Carpentry, and even technical know-how of latest fashion trends and Sales.
This data helped in deciding where and which sector needs to be focused upon. This also gave an impetus to implore the possibility of converting the idea of making aWorker into an Entrepreneur, which eventually happened.
Group Counseling was done to trace owner/manager/supervisors of home coming workers.“Udayami Mitra Mandali” was formed to keep the workers, entrepreneurs, experts in loop even after they left quarantine centers.
Directions were given to contact the owners and employers of home coming workers and to make them aware about the facilities that the State government is providing to establish their units inside Bihar.
With the list in hand, the district administration contacted many investors and entrepreneurs from several states. Numerous meetings were held virtually as well as Procurement,cost of machines and their use,physically to discuss the future plan of action and it also solved some of the apprehensions the participants had. In one of the District Consultant committee meetings, 50 participants from places like Surat, Ludhiana, Jaipur, Amritsar, Chandigarh, etc. attended the meeting and discussed extensively the following points:
- Cost and purchase of raw materials,
- Markets for the produce and Supply Chainmanagement.
This way the doubts were resolved and proper communication was established which build the trustamong the Participants to move ahead with their plans.
The District level officers were made to act as a Single Point Of Contact (SPOC) for each of the units. They facilitated and ensured the action plan was implemented in letter and spirit. They also provided technical support for the budding Entrepreneurs and were made aware of both the forward and backward linkages. This laid a foundation for marketing the finished goods.
Meetings were held with the Representatives of Banks where SPOC briefing them about the benefits arising out of the initiative. After the perusal of documents, loans were disbursed to the beneficiaries under the existing schemes like PMEGP. With District administration as a mediator, it has benefitted both the parties and thereby the funding part was taken care of. SBI, Chanpatia among other banks was appreciated for their contribution in this regard.
“Establishment Of Startup Zone”
After series of discussions, the need for single industrial hub was realized, accommodating all individual manufacturing units with the facility of electricity, drinking water, toilet etc. For this, two vacant FCI go-downs at Chanpatia were chosen which has the cumulative capacity of 15000mt. The site is 18km away from Bettiah, District HQ and has good transport connectivity.
The interested Entrepreneurs applied to BIADA for the area allotment. After the allotments, each manufacturing unit fenced themselves and duly registered under Industrial rules and GST. Some notable enterprises are Champ Dignity, a Low-cost Sanitary pad making unit, Mask production unit, Textile garments, Apparels, etc. Within few months of its commencement, the start- up zone is now buzzing with huge commercial activity, opening new avenues of employment.
“Productivity and Publicity”
49 entrepreneurs have been allotted shades at the startup zone so far, among which currently at Chanpatia startup zone, 35 units of apparel and textile has been functioning. Besides its 105 entrepreneurs are in que for shade allotment under Startup Zone, Chanpatia.
District administration is in the forefront publicizing their products and to create Brand value. With the help of district administration Entrepreneurs have bagged overseas from countries like Qatar, Spain, Dubai. In India the products are making inroads into several states. Needless to mention, products are being sold in Amazon platform too. Till now manufacturers at the startup zone has received orders of the value of almost sixty million from local market, other states and countries.
The Honorable Chief Minister Nitish Kumar paid a visit to the start-up zone. The CM has commended the work done by district administration in this regard. He lauded that the initiative would not only create the employment opportunities and also adds value to the economy.
“Brand West Champaran!”
The initiative has created a ripple of positive energy in the lives of people of West Champaran. Though it has reached the unreached, there is still a long way to go.
Every Challenge is Opportunity. This has become clearly evident from the Chanpatia’s Startup Zone success story. The efficient use of resources along with the timely help from state govt and district administration has enabled the self-sustaining entity to thrive on its own. With no doubt, Chanpatia’s Startup Zone will definitely be a forerunner for the future Innovative endeavors.