Small and Micro Entrepreneurs, especially those of rural areas, form the back-bone of economic and employment generating activities of the Indian economy. The Five year Plans and the Annual Budgets of the Government have always given priority for developing small industries and tiny units of unorganized workers and artisans. RCCI has also taken active steps to strengthen and support the Union and State Government Plans for this important sector.
Under the above backdrop, RCCI joined with Swiss Agency for Development & Cooperation (SDC) in the year 1998 and started a cooperation project called RCCI-SDC Project for Poverty Alleviation through Employment Generation. In its second phase starting October 2001, it took up the challenge to generate employment through cluster development using the mode of Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs). Four years of various interventions and intensive efforts resulted in creation of 19 clusters in five sectors, viz., Gems & Jewellery, Textiles, Wool & Woollen Products, Agro Products & Processing, and Rural Crafts & Culture. By the end of 2006, 1630 micro enterprises were created through the mechanism of cluster development and Self Help Group (SHG) creation. By now, over 1600 Artisan Cards have been issued to the Artisans which are of great help to them in securing Bank finance, marketing support etc. Some Artisans have even received training abroad for improving their skills and are in turn training their other brotheren in skill up gradation. Some Artisans have received nation-wide recognition including monetary awards. The SHGs are now sufficiently empowered to earn between Rs. 2,000-2,500 per person per month. They are now able to realize that competitiveness, quality of products, cost effectiveness and timely supply are essential requirements for their survival and this is more pronounced now because of the WTO environment.
RCCI’s interventions in the first and second phases of the RCCI-SDC Project has been largely responsible for creating and environment so Self Sustenance of the 2500 Micro Entrepreneurs of the five sectors. RCCI-SDC therefore decided that the last phase, i.e., Third Phase of the Project should concentrate on capacity building of all these entrepreneurs, project associations, BDSPs and Chamber of Commerce etc. During the period October 2007 to September 2008 more then 25 Programmes of capacity building have been/ will be organized covering wide ranging subjects like Human Resource Development, Environment and Safety Management, Use of Information Technology, Usage of Modern Marketing Tools, Event Management, Cooperation between different Sectors, Interaction with Government Departments and Private Entrepreneurs, Socio- Economic Strengthening of Individual Entrepreneurs as well as for the Associations and NGOs.
These activities have enabled the entrepreneurs of the 19 clusters to acquire confidence and prepare their fellow entrepreneurs for taking up new business or expanding their own businesses. Thus, a chain reaction has been set in motion and has been the most beneficial outcome to these capacity building programmes. Block-level Associations and independent Societies have now emerged and are taking initiatives for getting there projects and programmers approved for Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Tourism, Family Welfare Department, Banks Rural Development Department, Woman & Child Development Department, Rural Non-Farm Development Agency (RUDA), etc. Overall, the RCCI-SDC Project has opened new roads of development for micro and small entrepreneurs and artisans of Rajasthan and in now an eve opener for other business and commerce Chambers. As per schedule, the RCCI-SDC project would stand completed by September 2008.