India has the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world. In 2021, over 52,391 entities were recognised as start-ups, of which 44 have achieved unicorn status, which is the largest number of unicorns ever observed in the country. The Indian start-up ecosystem has grown at an average rate of 12–15% annually and raised US$ 43 billion in funding in 2021. It has also created over 5.7 lakh jobs and helped India rank among the top 50 most innovative economies. The Indian start-up ecosystem has thrived with extremely favourable government policies and has proven highly beneficial for the economy's growth. However, most of the Indian start-up ecosystems are based in urban areas. To accelerate the growth of start-ups, foster a start-up culture, and encourage innovation in rural areas, the Indian government has launched several initiatives, with one of the key ones being the Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP).
What is Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP)?
The Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) was launched in 2016 as part of the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). The primary aim of this programme is to provide capital and technical support to rural enterprises. The programme intends to provide assistance to over 1 crore (10 million) formation and strengthening of about 1.82 lakh village enterprises in 125 blocks across 24 states. This phase is expected to generate employment for around 3.78 lakh people.
Objectives of Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP):
As 60% of India's population lives in rural areas, the SVEP will stimulate economic growth and promote rural entrepreneurship, creating immense job opportunities and helping support the rural economy. Given below are the primary objectives under the SVEP:
Implementation of Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP):
The NRLM and SHGs are necessary prerequisites for the implementation of the SVEP. From the start of a business to the provision of credit, community-based institutions and the CRP-EP monitor the business' progress and repayment.
Key elements of the programme include:
Economic Impact of Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP):
The SVEP has taken an all-inclusive approach, focusing on marginalised communities, women and those with low educational status. The programme has created a positive economic impact for many entrepreneurs, providing bank credits worth Rs. 1,530 billion (US$ 20.15 billion) to over 104,000 enterprises. According to the SVEP, 99% of the enterprises were profitable, with only 1% breaking even and incurring zero losses. About 57% of families' total household income came from SVEP-supported enterprises.
The average gross income of entrepreneurs in all the blocks surveyed was 50% higher than their stated aspirational income when they started their business.
Almost 50% of these businesses were in manufacturing, 60% in services and 58% in trade. To further highlight the inclusivity of the programme, 25% of the entrepreneurs in the programme did not have any form of education. The programme was also very beneficial to rural women: women entrepreneurs led almost 75% of manufacturing businesses, 11,000 women in Uttar Pradesh benefited from the scheme, and 16.8 million women were mobilised into more than 1.58 million SHGs by the Ministry of Rural Development.
The SVEP shows the immense potential of India's rural entrepreneurs. In the future, more such programmes and initiatives can be expected to help India tap into the vast potential of rural entrepreneurs. India aims to develop an entirely new rural start-up ecosystem that will provide significant opportunities for new-age rural entrepreneurs. India also targets to become the most significant global start-up ecosystem, which can be made possible through rural entrepreneurs. This will help create millions of jobs and enhance livelihoods for millions of families.