RajuBhai Gaikwad is a young successful tribal entrepreneur from Ambapada village of Dangs district in Gujarat. He worked as general bamboo artisan earning Rs.200 per day as wages prior to joining the entrepreneurship programme of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) in year 2017. With seed funding and handholding support, he established a modern workshop to produce innovative bamboo crafts and furniture items. At present his turnover is over 12 lakhs and provides employment to a group of 15 local tribal youths.
In the current age of information and communication technology, television, mobile phones and access to the internet has penetrated even the most secluded rural belts. Access to technology and exposure to big cities due to migration has further altered the aspirations of rural youths. Increasingly, youth from tribal and rural areas aim to go for higher education, gain meaning full employment and start their own enterprises.
Despite this migration to urban areas, tribal and rural areas have inherent potential for enterprise development, particularly in areas like eco-tourism, arts and crafts, animal husbandry, agro-processing, honey production and millet-based products. However, the infrastructure and technology are not there. One of the major reasons for a lack of enthusiasm for entrepreneurship development among tribal populations is the absence of an enabling ecosystem in the tribal areas.
In response, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (India) (AKRSP (I)) started to build that enabling ecosystem in 2016. Its rural youth initiative programme seeks to promote entrepreneurship development among tribal and other rural communities, particularly youth and women. A limited number of youth and women’s groups go through a rigorous selection process that involves application, field visits, one to one interviews, workshops, business plan development and community feedback. The selected youths get support on training, mentoring, exposure visits, business development, financial linkages and limited seed funding.
Originally focused on rural youth from marginalised sections like scheduled tribes and women, the programme now has expanded to goat rearing cooperatives of women, solar based irrigation entrepreneurs, women para-veterinarians, commercial poultry farms, eco-tourism, bamboo crafts, and millet-based products are some of the successful innovative models of AKRSP (I)’s entrepreneurship development work.
Jobs created, income and impact
- 40 tribal entrepreneurs, employment for around 100 youths: Rs. 20,000-35,000/month
- 35 solar irrigation service providers: Rs. 120,000-150,000/year
- 389 Pashu Sakhies- average income: Rs. 3,000-4,000/month
- 26 farmers’ producers companies: income generating opportunity to 20,443 farmers with Rs. 33.89 crore turnover
- 70,000 small enterprises around backyard poultry, goat farming and other petty trades provide income-generating opportunity to 70,000 people earning around Rs.4,000- 5,000/month.