How it works
Before the program
Recognising the dire need for solutions related to livelihoods and jobs in the region, we select enterprises that have the potential to transform the local economy and environment, boost innovation and curb migration by providing a supportive environment for enterprise creation and development. Prior to the launch of the application process, the Udhyam team visits villages to attend block-level meetings and meet with community leaders and representatives.
To spread news about the opportunity, we conduct a rigorous phase of on-ground marketing and awareness generation. For instance, in 2018-19, we launched a call for applications across 255 villages in the two districts of Nainital and Almora.
Posters are put up in the selected villages and block-level community meetings are held to talk about the Udhyam program. We advertise in regional dailies, such as Dainik Jagran and Amar Ujala, and invite existing entrepreneurs to talk about the program on different channels, such as the Kumaon Vaani community radio. The Udhyam team – well-wishers as well as entrepreneurs – also tap into their own networks to identify and encourage people from the area to apply.
In 2018-19, we received 499 inquiries in all – an overwhelming response, to say the least. Not only did we get calls from people in villages, we were also contacted by Uttarakhand residents who had since migrated to work in nearby towns and cities – people who wished to move back and create a business in their home area.
Applications and interviews
The first step for interested applicants is to make a telephonic call to us to register their applications. We enlist the help of B2R Technologies, a rural BPO in the area, to screen calls and speak to the callers about their ideas. A high-level assessment of the business potential, viability and ability of the applicant is made, and applications are shortlisted following an evaluation by an expert panel.
These registered applicants then go through a screening process, over two interview rounds. Applicants are assessed on their attitude and motivation, the strength and suitability of their business idea, as well as the likelihood that they would be able to repay the loan.
What we usually see is that agriculture, animal husbandry, tourism and shops constitute the majority of business ideas.
Home visits and selection
Udhyam’s selection criteria is such that we onboard enterprises (and ideas) with the potential to boost the local economy, create local jobs and provide a stable income for the entrepreneur. We encourage community-owned enterprises, women-owned businesses and business models that are sensitive to local ecology, culture and development needs. For instance, a tailoring shop will service the local community instead of tourists and boost the local economy in a village where people are accustomed to traveling far distances for their tailoring needs.
Ideas or enterprises that can have unintended consequences, such as business models that target the tourist market or lead to unsustainable tourism and environmental degradation are discouraged.
Once the entrepreneur’s readiness and the viability of the business has been assessed through an interview, home visits are carried out to establish a rapport with the entrepreneurs and understand their businesses better. At this stage, the Udhyam team is able to assess the entrepreneurs’ commitment to their business and whether they have a stable and supportive home environment.
Do you want to become an entrepreneur?
Find out how.
During the program
Orientation and loan documentation
Orientation and loan documentation
Selected entrepreneurs are invited to a one-day induction program which serves as an orientation where they get to know each other as well as the Udhyam team. Based on the loan amount, a schedule of repayments is worked out with the entrepreneur. All the processes and paperwork for loan assistance are also carried out on orientation day.
Incoming entrepreneurs go through a basic financial planning session which familiarises them with the basic concepts of budgeting, stock inventory and pricing. Activity-based sessions give them an opportunity to critique their own business ventures or ideas based on the tools they have learnt. The day comes to a close with the final loan documentation process.
Mentoring and Ripples program
Entrepreneurs who will benefit from additional mentoring support are matched with a local mentor with prior experience in their chosen area. These mentors work closely with the entrepreneur for Year 1 of the program, to help them refine their business ideas, product/service and marketing or outreach plans. For instance, local mentors can help identify close-by markets for sales, or suggest procurement strategies for raw material based on their knowledge of the region.
While mentors provide advice and feedback, the onus to take initiative and strategic action is on the entrepreneurs. In addition to mentorship, some entrepreneurs are inducted into the Ripples program based on their business idea and need. This is an ongoing support intervention for entrepreneurs who need more intensive guidance – such as a deep dive into their idea and business model, strategic planning and execution. Ripples mentors come with in-depth technical and sectoral experience.
Monitoring is strong in Udhyam. Each entrepreneur is connected to a locally-based Udhyam team member who visits them on a regular basis and stays in constant touch. Udhyam on-ground teams make routine visits and check-ins with the entrepreneurs to provide support and monitor progress. They are also available whenever the entrepreneur might need additional help or has questions about something. Udhyam provides support in case of any challenges and setbacks, and helps out with technical advice based on the individual needs of the entrepreneur.
There are two learning workshops per year, held at a venue central for all the entrepreneurs. These workshops are an opportunity for all the entrepreneurs to share their journeys with each other and reflect on their experiences. Moreover, they go through sessions on costing and P&L accounting, customer service and interactions which can help them further improve their individual skills as a business owner and manager.
Of course, learning workshops are also a time to celebrate the achievements made by everyone and have some fun!
After the program
Entrepreneurs who complete the program can act as peer mentors for the incoming cohorts.