The Commonwealth Secretariat, London, has partnered with public banks, Corporation Bank and Central Bank of India, to extend credit to women and disadvantaged youth in rural areas. The technical assistance and financing program seeks to provide low-income women and youth with mentoring, training, and funding to develop and establish small enterprises. The program seeks to create 1,500 jobs in its first phase. With the focus on enterprise development activities and to make the rural masses self-sustainable, the Commonwealth Secretariat, London, has partnered with public sector banks Corporation Bank and Central Bank of India to provide credit to young people, women and differently-abled youth living in rural areas of India.

While the Commonwealth Secretariat will provide mentoring, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation to the rural young entrepreneurs, the Banks will fund the projects. The Commonwealth-Central Bank of India-Corporation Bank-Youth Enterprise financing programme will create 1,500 jobs in the first phase.

Speaking to Business Standard, Commonwealth Secretariat (London) Advisor Ram Venuprasad said, “We partnered with Central Bank of India and Corporation Bank aimed at helping young people establish and develop their small businesses. The Bank would offer concessional loan rates to youth for enterprise development activities. We will support the bank’s funding through providing technical assistance to ensure entrepreneurs develop sufficient capacity in running sustainable businesses”.

He added, “This programme will act as a model for other Commonwealth countries in demonstrating a sustainable method of ensuring young people have access to finance. Under this programme, Corporation Bank has sanctioned Rs 14 crore and Central Bank of India has offered Rs 5 crore for the first project”.

He added, “Our focus is youth and converting them from job seekers to job creators. Basically, we would be imparting training to rural youth and women in agro-processing, tourism, services sector and others”. He was in the city along with 75 delegates representing 35 nations to attend ‘Eleventh Commonwealth-India Small Business Competitiveness Development Program. We are going to work with Corporation Bank in six districts namely Uddipi and Chickmagalur in Karnataka, Madurai (Tamil Nadu), Hyderabad, Sirmour (Himachal Pradesh) and Sahu ji Maharaj Nagar in Uttar Pradesh. Further, Central Bank is working in four districts with Commonwealth Secretariat namely Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan, Ernakulum in Kerala, Musheerdabad in West Bengal and Shahu ji Maharaj Nagar in Uttar Pradesh.

Earlier, Central Bank of India CMD S Sridhar told Business Standard, “For the developing countries, I think micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) development is the most important sector. For one, it provides employment and is also very important for inclusive socio-economic growth. Under the programme (youth enterprise development programme). we would sanction 80 projects”.