September- 2022


COVER STORY: Transitioning from SHGs to Microbusiness Employer

4thManagement Development Programme on Rural Development Leadership for BDOs

Webinar on Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100: Vision for Rural Development

ToT Programme on Marketing Skills for State Project Managers (Non-Farm) from SRLMs

NIRDPR Holds Online Sensitisation Meeting on Special Campaign 2.0

Training Programme on e-Governance for VEC Functionaries


Training Programme on e-Governance for VEC Functionaries at ETC Nongsder, Meghalaya


Transitioning from SHGs to Microbusiness Employer

1. Introduction

In the emerging discussion on Localisation of Sustainable Development Goals (LSDGs) and strengthening of local economy through Vocal for Local, reconsidering the role and potential of Self-Help Groups (SHGs) could be a crucial strategy for realising inclusive and sustainable rural development discourse. Improving and sustaining livelihoods through group-based interventions have emerged as a development practice to address many rural development issues and concerns. SHGs have now become a platform for many group-based interventions based on the basic premise that mobilising marginalised and poor (women) people, organising them into a group and preparing them to participate meaningfully in the development process help to improve targeting and rural development outcomes. SHGs have come a long way from group savings and microfinance to developing microenterprises and employability through training and skills formation, and facilitating public service delivery (health, education, nutrition, etc). SHGs have not only been able to make a presence in the rural manufacturing and services landscape but also emerged as a social safety net during the pandemic era and beyond. We witnessed a new form of governance coalition between local institutions such as Panchayats, NGOs and other stakeholders operating in the rural space, where SHGs also played a very crucial role. 

2. Current Scenario

Of late, many interventions have been implemented under the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) towards livelihood and income enhancements, such as value chain development for high-value farm and non-farm commodities, and enterprise development. A major shift in focus of the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) was to leverage institutional platforms to promote convergence. Enhanced thrust was given for economic initiatives related to (a) agriculture, livestock, non-farm and skills development, (b) financial inclusion, and (c) convergence initiatives to improve access to other States and Government of India (GoI) welfare schemes and services. It was also envisaged that (a) State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) work with other government departments to award high-value public-sector contracts to firms owned by SHG members, (b) Women-owned enterprises are enlisted as registered vendors to supply raw-material to beneficiaries of government schemes, and (c) Women-owned enterprises leverage opportunities to capitalise on an array of service-sector requirements within government-run facilities.

Although SHGs have expanded their entrepreneurial activities, very few have transformed into productive and viable business entities. Many SHGs continue to operate at the subsistence level and failed to grow and scale up their economic activities. Recently, many studies (i.e., Kochar, A, et. al. 2020; Deshpande, 2022; Garima Siwach, 2021) have assessed and evaluated the performance of various interventions of the National Rural Livelihoods Programme (NRLP). One could identify a stylised set of constraints which are very much similar to that of any MSME unit operating in rural India, and a few are listed below:

a) Lack of suitable financial products for the growth of micro individual and collective enterprises

b) Lack of access to market, technology, business skill, mentoring and handholding

c) Lack of customised business development services for existing viable high-performing micro enterprises (individual and collective enterprises) of NRLM for graduation

d) Lack of higher-order specialised technical assistance

e) Lack of a mechanism and support system to develop higher-order enterprises like Producer Groups and Producer Companies

f) Lack of collaboration between various stakeholders such as private sector, academic institutions and social enterprises

g) Lack of database on SHGs, especially on economic data. In addition, one of the critical concerns of enterprise promotion on SHG platform is the training and capacity development of Community Resource Persons – Enterprise Promotion (CRPs-EP).

The Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) and Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY) focus on the development of CRP-EP as local-level mentors for supporting rural women to start (or expand) their small businesses.

Creating awareness of livelihood and entrepreneurial avenues in rural areas and providing continuous and long-term marketing, technical and financial handholding are major concerns for sustainable entrepreneurship development. Linking these SHG enterprises with the market, formal institutions and large enterprises will also enhance their capability to scale up their production and expand employment. What now lacking is drawing up a holistic perspective of the complex process of developing entrepreneurial abilities, managing and nurturing their capabilities and providing long-term handholding to both potential and existing entrepreneurs, which will not only ensure sustainable livelihood for local people but also create employment opportunities. It will enable us to make substantial progress in our journey towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is also a need for convergence and synergy of all the government initiatives relating to entrepreneurship development and encourage dialogues and partnerships among various stakeholders. In such a scenario, it is important to create a robust and process-driven ecosystem, which will a) empower both existing and aspiring rural enterprises/entrepreneurs to access formal institutions, b) prepare them to get benefitted from various programmes and schemes relating to enterprise promotion, and c) put these enterprises on a scale ladder so that they grow over the years and create employment opportunities.

3. Possible Pathways to Put SHGs on a Scale Ladder

3.1 Formalisation

There is a wide network of formal institutions operating at various levels to promote enterprise development. We have multiple Central government ministries (such as Ministries of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship and Food Processing Industries), State government departments, specialised agencies (like SIDBI, APEDA, NSIC and KVIC) and also institutions at the district level such as District Industrial Centre (DICs), and RSETIs working towards inclusive and sustainable enterprise development. But a large majority of women SHGs or women-led rural located enterprises are not aware of these institutions and their schemes. Even though a few of them are aware of the facilities, they are not able to access it. On the one hand, rural entrepreneurs are neither adequately skilled nor educated to access these formal institutions, and on other hand, the regulatory procedures and formalities are still cumbersome. There is a need to sensitise these entrepreneurs about formal institutions and the whole range of programmes and schemes meant for them. It is also equally important to simplify regulatory compliance formalities for rural start-ups. The recently announced PM Formalisation of Micro Food Processing Enterprises Scheme (PM FME Scheme) by the Ministry of Food Processing Industry (MoFPI) aims at providing financial, technical and business support for the upgradation of existing micro food processing enterprises. It provides support for capital investment for upgradation and formalisation with registration for GST, FSSAI hygiene standards and Udyog Aadhaar. Under this scheme, skill training and hand-holding support are also provided to prepare bankable business plans. Support towards capital investment, common infrastructure such as Common Facility Centres and branding and marketing are also provided to FPOs, SHGs and PCs to formalise and grow. It is important to enhance access to information and support for these enterprises and provide all support measures on a single platform. More such efforts are needed for other industry groups as well.

3.2 Digital Empowerment

Recently, a bouquet of services, including registration, regulatory compliances, connection with banks, connection with government schemes, mentoring and handholding, peer network, investor connect, marketing and business advisory, branding, quality and market research, etc., was ensured on a single platform. A number of online/IT-enabled portals or platforms have been initiated by the government to reach out to all intended beneficiaries and provide much-needed support. To list a few, such as MSME ‘Sampark’, MSME ‘Sambandh’, MSME Samadhaan,’ MSME Idea Portal, Udyamimitra, etc., provide multiple services, including registration, easy access to financial and non-financial service needs, provisioning skilled workers, grievances related to delayed payments and so on. While such initiatives are welcome moves, it may be noted that access to computer or the internet, and the quality of internet network in rural areas continue to remain huge concerns. A preponderant majority of rural entrepreneurs also do not have the required skill to get benefited from these digital services, which are meant for them. Therefore, in addition to sensitising the rural entrepreneurs about these portals and platforms, adequate funding, along with training and capacity development of rural entrepreneurs to navigate smoothly to a digital ecosystem, is required. Such digital services may also be provided in Common Service Centres or MeeSeva Centres or in Panchayat offices. Panchayats should collaborate with other stakeholders such as officials of SRLMs, MSME Development Institutes, District Industries Centres (DICs) and MSE Facilitation Councils (MSEFCs) operating in the rural landscape to leverage these digitisation efforts.

A cadre of CRPs called Tablet Didis has been created under NRLM who are providing a bouquet of services at the doorsteps of BPL families and keeping all the financial activities of SHGs on MIS software. Apart from bookkeeping, Tablet Didis show short films on their tabs to families to create awareness about various livelihood avenues, animal husbandry and social ills such as child labour, witch hunting and domestic violence. The Leelavati Project seeks to improve the digital and financial literacy of at least five lakh women members across six Indian States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Meghalaya and Assam, which is supported by the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF) and managed by the World Bank. The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), under this project, has trained women weavers in Gujarat’s Anand district and helped them to showcase their products online, create WhatsApp groups of customers, and enable digital payments for purchases. The training has helped other craftspersons in setting up their retail through Facebook and Instagram. Women have also become financially independent and carried out basic online transactions through Paytm, BHIM App, Google, and UPI. There are other initiatives, such as Digital Unlocked – an initiative by Google in association with FICCI and Indian School of Business, which aims to help Indian businesses unlock exponential growth by imparting digital skills. Digital Saksham initiative by CII-Mastercard-NIMSME aims to educate and train micro and small business owners and entrepreneurs, enabling them to integrate into the digital economy and access credit, expand their market access, diversify their customer base, digitise their financial operations and solidify their supply chain. Many such good interventions are in operation in different parts of the country, which need to be documented and attempts should be made to replicate, with necessary customisation, if any.

3.3. Convergence and Collaboration

A series of efforts are being made by the MoRD to create synergies between different government programmes, which led to the convergence of various public services, entitlements and programmes at the household level, resulting in better targeting of the development programmes, including increased access to nutrition services and reduction in malnutrition and infant and maternal mortality, increased access to social safety nets including pensions, PDS entitlements and insurance services. Convergence is being promoted with schemes and government departments such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Swachh Bharat Mission – Gramin (SBM-G), Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), etc. In the entrepreneurship domain, efforts are being made so that more and more SHGs will get benefited from other programmes such as MUDRA, PMFME, SFURTI, Van Dhan Vikas Kendra, One District One Product (ODOP), Cluster Development Programme (CDP), Common Facility Centres (CFCs), One Stop Facility Centre (OSFC), PCs and FPOs.

To address the problems of marketing, many new initiatives, including connecting SHGs with the GeM Portal, MoU between MoRD & Flipkart (Flipkart Samarth Programme), Gujarat government signing MoU with Amazon to help 10,000 tribal entrepreneurs and so on, have been undertaken. Several SRLMs are also closely working with the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) to address the marketing and branding concerns of SHGs. Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana (PMVDY) by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) is a market-linked entrepreneurship development programme for forming clusters of tribal SHGs and strengthening them into Tribal Producer Companies. To address the challenges of inadequate financial linkages and market access, there are schemes such as Institutional Support for the Development and Marketing of Tribal Products/Produce, Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP, Tribes India E-Marketplace.

Under the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP), a number of SRLMs have started working with different IIMs to provide incubation support and other higher-order business and technical support to SHGs. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has taken an initiative to allocate space to SHGs at its airports for selling/showcasing self-made products of their region. The “AVSAR” (Airport as Venue for Skilled Artisans of the Region) initiative to strengthen SHGs by allotting space at AAI Airports will provide huge visibility to these small groups and prepare them to promote/market their products to a wider spectrum by reaching out to the larger population.

3.4 Capacitating Community Resource Persons (CRPs)

The CRPs are chosen from within the community and trained in life skills and leadership, business development, risk management, market analysis, communication, marketing, financial linkages, etc. The trained CRPs will further identify women from their own village as well as those nearby, who already have an existing business or are aspiring to start a new business. These CRPs, besides imparting training, play a facilitation role in creating backward (say, financial institutions) and forward (with markets and clientele) linkages for these small businesses in the value chain. They also mentor and provide psycho-social support to women entrepreneurs to build self-confidence, capacity for decision-making, and staying power in handling social pressures and family crises, while managing and growing the business. We have a large cadre of CRPs such as Kisan Sakhi/Krishi Sakhi, Pasu Sakhi (Livestock CRP), NTFP CRP, Matsya Sakhi (Fisheries CRP), Udyog Sakhi (Value Chain CRP), CRP-Enterprise Promotion (CRP-EP), Bank Mitras, e-CRPs, Tablet Didi, Patrakar Didi and so on, for implementing rural development schemes and programmes. The success of the CRP-led mentorship model lies in the methodology and curriculum adopted for imparting training to these CRPs. There is a need to improve the training and capacity development of these CRPs at regular intervals to appraise them about changes in the policies and programmes and also impart them with new skills to facilitate them to implement both on-farm and non-farm livelihood programmes more effectively. However, there is no systematic and robust mechanism to assess and track the performance progress of CRPs. In a few States, however, the exercises of accreditation and gradation of CRPs have recently started.

Regular and continuous training and capacity development of not only CRPs but also other functionaries associated with the implementation of various farm and non-farm livelihood interventions is equally important. The NRLM Resource Centre (NRLM RC) at NIRDPR has been conducting a series of training programmes, workshops and exposure visits on specific themes, drawing inputs from MoRD, NMMU and SRLMs for various functionaries and officials who are closely working with SHGs. Improvisation in these training programmes is also consistently made based on detailed and critical feedback from participants.

The phenomenon of ‘SHGs becoming a business entity’ has captured our imagination albeit lately. But, over the years, SHGs have expanded their entrepreneurial wings from making papad or pickle to running café, restaurants, and fair price shops, apart from SHG women collecting electricity bills, constructing Citizen Information Boards (CIBs) for MGNREGA and so on. Emerging entrepreneurial possibilities in food processing, rural (agro) tourism, homestay, solar energy, and repair and maintenance services are also to be explored and leveraged. Seeding and supporting more SHG-based and women-led rural entrepreneurs will give credence to ‘Vocal for Local’ and energise the local economy to build a self-reliant nation, what we are aspiring for India@2047.

*This discussion note liberally draws from the author’s prior works, MoRD’s select publications and guidelines of schemes and programmes

Dr. Partha Pratim Sahu
Associate Professor, CEDFI and Head (i/c), CGGPA

4thManagement Development Programme on Rural Development Leadership for BDOs

The participants of the programme with Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR (front row, 3rd from left) and Dr. Lakhan Singh, Assistant Professor, Centre for Human Resource Development, NIRDPR (front row, 4th from left)

The Management Development Programme on Rural Development Leadership for Block Development Officers (BDO), which is the fourth in the series, was held at the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Hyderabad from September 19-23, 2022. As many as 20 BDOs from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Uttarakhand attended this programme.

The overall objective of the programme was to sharpen the fundamental competencies of BDOs such as knowledge, skills, traits, motives, attitudes, values and other characteristics needed to drive superior performance in the rural development sector.

This programme was conducted and coordinated by Dr. Lakhan Singh, Assistant Professor, Centre for Human Resource Development, NIRDPR.  Before the commencement of the programme, Dr. Lakhan Singh explained the need, demand and importance of the programme, course design and content and also the outcome, which would enable the BDOs to discharge their duties more effectively.

This programme was inaugurated by Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR. In his inaugural speech, he highlighted the role of BDOs in the overall development of the villages. He also stressed the need for the convergence of MGNREGS with other schemes to bring out significant impact of MGNREGS on rural development. He further mentioned the huge social capital built under NRLM in the form of SHGs and its role in economic growth. The DG also mentioned the achievements and challenges of PMGSY, JJM, and GPDP. He added that every Gram Panchayat need to prepare a framework for its holistic development which needs to be done in GPDP wherein BDOs can play a crucial role.

Eminent resource persons interacted with the BDOs on the issues such as rural development policies and programmes towards reduction of poverty, MGNREGS: impact of assets created on rural livelihoods, communication and soft skills including behaviour in management, social justice- issues of SC/ST, minorities, disabled population, aged persons, children, time management, issues and challenges in sustaining ODF villages, issues of basic education in rural India with special focus on Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, rights-based development and social accountability through social audit mechanism, leadership qualities for BDOs, financial management, localisation of gender issues in rural development, project management, transparency and accountability for good governance, mission Antyodaya framework for GPDP, BPDP, DPDP, NRLM and the role of BDOs, the scenario of drinking water in rural India, DDU-GKY: Role of BDOs, etc.

The BDOs visited Rural Technology Park located on the premises of NIRDPR to witness technologies such as low-cost housing, employment-generating activities for the rural poor, etc.

The BDOs were also sent on a study visit to Hajipalle, an Aadarsh Village in the district of Mahabubnagar, Telangana where they personally witnessed the successful best practices being adopted by the Gram Panchayat. The BDOs were also asked to prepare a vision plan for their block with a view to bringing in holistic development.

The Block Development Officers at Hajipalle Village in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana

The BDOs were asked to evaluate and offer suggestions so that the same could be incorporated into the subsequent programmes to enhance the quality.

The BDOs were satisfied with the way the programme was conducted in terms of session plans, content, quality and usefulness of the sessions handled by the resource persons and exposure visit.

Webinar on Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100: Vision for Rural Development

The 10th webinar of the Evidence-Based Action and Policy Roundtable Series was organised on the ‘Competitiveness Roadmap for India@100: Vision for Rural Development’ on 23rd September, 2022. The programme focuses on the vision for rural development in the coming decades in the context of inequality in India. 

For the webinar, the speaker Dr. Amit Kapoor, Visiting Lecturer, Stanford University focused on the synopsis of around 150 research papers to comment on India’s competitiveness or the drivers behind the country’s current performance. Dr. Kapoor used the synopsis of this analysis as a foundation to draw recommendations for a comprehensive growth strategy for India till 2047.

The webinar focused on the inequality context in India, where the consistently positive GDP growth has not translated to equity in sectoral growth or even individual consumption levels. Starting from high inequality and the possible paths for rural development policies to reach high sustainable growth by 2047, the talk deliberated on the question through data analysis and existing literature.

The competitiveness framework presented in the webinar was developed by the authors of competitiveness report authored by Dr. Amit Kapoor, Dr. Christian Ketel and Prof. Michael E. Porter. The competitiveness diagnostics, as per the authors, revealed a few challenges for India. The speaker noted that India’s headline GDP growth has been strong.

“In terms of GDP growth, India has been a global leader and sustained prosperity, and it is expected that in 2047 India is expected to be a high-income country bringing huge benefits or huge transitions in the quality of life of its citizens. With per capita income rising, the social quality or political quality of infrastructure is expected to rise as well. During the last seven to eight years, India has improved its quality-of-life parameters. The issues faced by India today are shared prosperity, job (quality of jobs) and policy implementation challenges, besides global winds of change,” he said.

“In the aspect of prosperity, India has not done well in comparison with the per capita income. Weak social progress, rising inequality, and a lack of convergence across regions suggest that the GDP growth has failed to translate into the expected improvements in the quality of life for many Indians. In terms of economic size, India is the 5th largest country, but on GDP per capita, it is at a very low level,” Dr. Amit Kapoor observed.

“Regarding the economic performance and shared prosperity challenge, the performance of States matters. There are about eight States that perform very well, and certain States have been left behind or are not really growing at that same momentum. States like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have done very well whereas Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are at a low base level in terms of their aggregated economic impact or per capita incomes. Gujarat and Maharashtra contribute close to about 30 per cent GDP of India. Even within the top 70 richest districts, approximately 10 per cent of all people generate about 70 per cent of the money. There is also a regional concentration of population. There is a need to find a way to reduce the disparity between the States over a period,” he said.

The second problem cited by Dr. Amit Kapoor was the jobs challenge. “India has vast demographic potential but has increasingly struggled to create opportunities beyond the entry point jobs for a large part of its labour force, especially women and the less skilled'” he noted.

Dr. Kapoor presented the result from the PLFS data which suggested that the gap between male and female labour force narrowed over time. However, there was a need to increase workforce participation by creating better opportunities for men and women.

Some exceptional work has been undertaken to create opportunities; for instance, Bhagalpur, which produces the finest silk in the world. In this regard, Dr. Kapoor believed that the One District, One Product (ODOP) initiative is the right step. Apart from the traditional sectors, the agriculture-dominated industries are giving a lot of opportunities to people in rural areas such as food processing. Therefore, a second Green Revolution may be thought of.

“These apart, India also faces a policy implementation challenge and a shifting external environment such as rising geopolitical tensions and changing patterns of globalisation, climate change and other technological changes – all of which are linked to a complex macroeconomic environment. Macroeconomic conditions and microeconomic conditions matter a lot. In the microeconomic conditions, sound monetary and fiscal policies, effectiveness of the public institutions and human and social development matter, whereas macroeconomic competitiveness is affected by quality of the business environment, economic compositions, state of cluster development, and sophistication of company operations and strategy. India has the largest labour pool and is going to be one of the youngest nations in the world. This whole labour benefit or demographic dividend would be with us until about 2055; however, there will be differences between States. States like Kerala will get older at a quick pace, but States like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh will take time, so the demographic dividend would be spread over time,” he concluded.

Dr. Amit’s presentation on competitiveness was followed by a SWOT analysis on India’s development prospects by Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR.

Dr. G. Narendra Kumar noted that the discussion on the demographic dividend of India can be traced back to three or more decades, but till now we could utilise or foster the demographic dividend. “Since India has a dominant young population, to create a dividend, the skill enhancement of these youth must be intensified. India’s strength is its population, and beyond the export-driven growth, it will be good to focus on the large domestic market. Compared to many other western countries, India has strong natural resources, including abundant solar power. If India does proper utilisation of solar energy, a substantial amount of it can be converted into solar power. A major strength in India is good integration across the States. There is a need to reinforce a few institutions, especially in the aspect of the rural development sector,” he said.

Dr. G. Narendra Kumar noted that for opportunities, India is a country, where there are approximately 80 lakh self-help groups having nearly eight crore members. “All such groups are well federated, well-structured, and waiting for economic opportunities for their economic empowerment. There is a need to understand how this huge mass of well-structured organisations can be involved in development. India is doing very well on project-based programmes like Swachh Bharat Mission. There is a need to improve and expand these programmes,” he said.

“As for weaknesses, increasing inequality is one of the major problems in India, and there is a need to address this for the long-term gain and uniformity of the country. There are also some socio-economic disparities. Unless these are corrected, the country cannot achieve shared prosperity,” he said.

“India also has some of the best institutions in the world, but unfortunately, the strength of these institutions is getting eroded. There is a lot of scope in strengthening Panchayat-led devolution of powers. There is a need to see that a greater amount of judicial accountability should come in all these aspects that need to be focused on. There is a need to improve the higher education quality in India which requires expansive reform. If we can strengthen our higher education system to be globally competitive, we don’t have to think about anything else. For the development of Panchayati Raj sector, Central and State governments invest about four lakh crore rupees every year. Still, a skilled cadre of rural development and panchayati raj managers needs to be created,” Dr. Narendra Kumar said. He concluded his talk by pointing to climate change, which is a major threat confronted by India, noting that there is a need to find ways to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change urgently. The webinar ended with an intense discussion and interaction with the participants.

The webinar was the 10th in the series of Evidence-Based Action and Policy Roundtables organised by Dr. Ruchira Bhattacharya, Assistant Professor, CSR, PPP, PA and Training, Research, Consultancy (Delhi Branch) and Dr. Partha Pratim Sahu, Associate Professor, CEDFI and Head (i/c), CGGPA, NIRDPR.

The video link to the webinar is provided below:

ToT Programme on Marketing Skills for State Project Managers (Non-Farm) from SRLMs

Dr. Ch. Radhika Rani, Director (NRLM-RC) and Centre Head (CMPRPED), NIRDPR, Hyderabad delivering open remarks. Also seen is Dr. Partha Pratim Sahu, Associate Professor, CEDFI, NIRDPR (extreme right)

Self-Help Groups (SHGs) are playing a great role in uplifting rural women directly, and the rural population indirectly as women empowerment leads to the upliftment of the whole family. Self-Help Groups/Producer Groups/Rural Entrepreneurs are involved in producing and selling their products, but they lack marketing skills.

To increase their reach, the SHGs should be trained to adopt e-Marketing for the sale and promotion of their products; better designing & packaging, value chain management, pricing and discounting strategies to improve their sales. As the SHGs come from rural areas, they must be trained to improve their communication and behavioural skills and also to face the challenges of marketing, customer care strategies, Taxes/GST Norms, mode of transactions, etc.

In view of the above-stated conditions, the Centre for Marketing & Promotion of Rural Products & Entrepreneurship Development (CMPRPED), NIRDPR Delhi Branch organised a three-day Training of Trainers (ToT) programme on Marketing Skills for State Project Managers (SPM-Non Farm) at NIRDPR, Hyderabad from 23rd to 25th August, 2022. The objectives of the training programme are as under:

  • To discuss issues and challenges in marketing of rural products. (The challenges include branding, packaging, communication, etc.)
  • To impart appropriate marketing skills to overcome the challenges (branding, designing, packaging, communication, behavioural change, sale and promotion of rural products through online/e-Marketing channels, value chain management, taxes/GST issues, mode of transactions and how to ensure operational protocols/complaints related to branding and packaging, etc.).
  • To orient the participants to adopt best practices through exposure visits.

The training courses were designed by the Centre in consultation with experts from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP), etc. 

Shri Chiranji Lal, Assistant Director, CMPRPED, NIRDPR Delhi Branch welcomed Dr. Ch. Radhika Rani, Director (NRLM-RC) & Centre Head (CMPRPED), NIRDPR Dr. Partha Pratim Sahu, Associate Professor, CEDFI, NIRDPR and the participants.

Dr. Ch. Radhika Rani, Director (NRLM-RC) gave the opening remarks. The following sessions were taken by NIRDPR faculty and external speakers.

S. N.TopicInternal/Guest Speaker
1Issues and Challenges in Marketing of Rural ProductsDr. Partha Pratham Sahu, Associate Professor, NIRDPR
2Discussion on Issues and Challenges in Marketing of Rural ProductsDr. Partha Pratham Sahu, Associate Professor, NIRDPR
3Branding, Better Designing & Packaging of Rural ProductsShri Shakti Sagar Katre, Assistant Professor, NIFT Delhi
4Promotion of Rural Products through e-Marketing & Social MediaShri Ramu Eluri, Kalgudi, Hyderabad
5Sales Communication and Psychology of Buyers, Behavioral Changes Dr. Aparna Dwivedi, IIMC
6Devising Media Strategy through Online CommunicationDr. Akanksha Shukla, Associate Professor, NIRDPR Hyderabad
7Value Chain ManagementDr. Surjit Vikraman, Associate Professor, NIRDPR Hyderabad
8Taxes/GST Issues, mode of transactions and how to address operational protocols /complaints.Shri V Ashok Kumar, NRP, Hyderabad

State Project Managers (SPMs) of a few States were invited to share their experiences. A total of 17 participants from 15 States took part in the three-day residential training programme. 

Bamboo rice developed by SHGs
Bamboo water bottles developed by SHGs

Conclusion/Outcome: The participants were of the consensus that the training programme would be very useful for providing further training to District/Block Level Functionaries and SHGs Federations/SHGs in their respective areas. They mentioned that after the training, SHGs of their area would have an idea of the benefits of better designing, packaging, branding, sale and promotion of the products through various channels like e-Marketing, sale and promotion of the rural products through social media, good communication skills, etc., taxes/GST issues faced by SHGs, better understanding of mode of transactions and how to ensure operational protocols, etc. At the outset, SHGs will be able to get the right price for their products and they will be able to market their products successfully. SRLMs will also be enriched with the good number of trained SHGs, who can participate in the National/International fairs and showcase the market-linked products.

Exposure Visits: After the completion of sessions, an exposure visit was planned to orient the participants to adopt best practices. Accordingly, participants visited the Livelihoods and Enterprise Promotion Units of Rural Technology Park (RTP) of NIRDPR and Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE), Secunderabad.

Participants of the training programme at Central Cottage Industries Emporium (CCIE), Secunderabad

In the valedictory session, Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR addressed the participants.

“The number of SHGs is huge, and they cannot perform well unless we provide them with good marketing support. SARAS Melas cannot give them the required marketing support. Apart from organising SARAS Melas at the State and national levels, we should give continuous marketing support to SHGs. There has to be a systematic effort to strengthen SHG marketing. This is a very important activity, and this needs to be taken up not only for SHG women and their families but for the nation as well. Now SHGs are transforming from saving & thrift organisations to micro-enterprises, but these micro enterprises will not be successful unless we give them effective and continuous good marketing support. The products of SHGs should be linked with various e-Marketing platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, GeM, etc., and export marketing,” the DG said and emphasised to focus on five classical elements for marketing, i.e. Products (Good Quality), Packaging of the Product (Attractive Packaging), Price (Best Value for Money), Promotions (Branding, Marketing Channels for promotions) and Platforms (various e-Commerce Platforms, Social Media).   

Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR addressing the participants

After the completion of the training programme, e-certificates were issued to the participants. The programme received positive feedback from the participants and esteemed speakers. The programme was coordinated by Shri Chiranji Lal, Assistant Director, Centre for Marketing & Promotion of Rural Products & Entrepreneurship Development (CMPRPED), NIRDPR Delhi Branch with the support of Shri Sudhir Kumar Singh, Research Officer of the Centre, NIRDPR, Delhi Branch.

NIRDPR Holds Online Sensistisation Meeting on Special Campaign 2.0

Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR attending the online meeting with other officers of the Institute

An online meeting was conducted under the Chairmanship of Dr. G. Narendra Kumar, IAS, Director General, NIRDPR on 19th September 2022 to sensitise all the stakeholders of the Institute about the Special Campaign 2.0 launched by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Government of India, for disposal of pending matters from 02.10.2022 to 31.10.2022.

In the meeting, several issues regarding the maintenance of buildings in NIRDPR, Hyderabad and Delhi branches, and NIRDPR – NERC, Guwahati were discussed at length. The DG gave instructions to take up all the minor repairs to quarters and finish on an urgent basis by giving them to contractors.   


Training Programme on e-Governance for VEC Functionaries at ETC Nongsder, Meghalaya

Participants of the training programme

The Extension Training Centre (ETC) Nongsder, Meghalaya, in collaboration with the e-Governance cell of the Meghalaya Administrative Training Institute (MATI), conducted a three-day training programme on e-Governance for the Village Employment Council (VEC) Functionaries from the 27th -29th September, 2022 at MATI, Mawdiangdiang.  

The objectives of the training programme were:

  • To orient the participants on various e-Governance initiatives of the government with a special focus on rural development and e-district services
  • To handhold participants with basic computer skills
  • To imbibe an appreciation for the use of information technology
  • To create awareness of cyber security and cyber safe.

A total of 30 participants comprising Chairperson, Secretary, Cluster Coordinator, Mate and Members of the Village Employment Councils (VECs) attended the training programme. The sessions included basic tenets of e-Governance, Digital India initiatives with a special focus on e-District services, Cyber Safety & Social Media, Cyber Crime and Preventive Measures, and hands-on sessions on basic computer skills such as typing and documenting in MS Word, working in MS Excel and preparing presentations in MS-PowerPoint. A visit to the best-performing Common Service Centre (CSC) was organised on the third day of the training programme, followed by a group discussion and presentation of the report. At the end of the training, participants were divided into four small groups and were made to give presentations on their learnings and ‘take-away’ from the entire duration of the training programme.

A session from the training on e-Governance in progress

The participants shared that training was very helpful and the content and hands-on sessions in training helped them understand the topic and its significance. The training methodology was interactive as the trainers ensured that knowledge was not only disseminated but accurately perceived and understood by the participants. In order to ensure this, trainers engaged participants in discussions and kept the forum open for feedback, queries and suggestions. These discussions and interactive sessions were supported through training material such as PowerPoint presentations, videos and handouts. 

Participants found the field exposure visit to be very significant and shared that more information on e-Governance and e-District initiatives, and the benefit of the Common Service Centres (CSC) were gathered through interactions during the visit. Participants also expressed that more training should be conducted for the benefit of VECs, SHGs and youths.  

The training programme was coordinated by Shri. Lambok Dhar, Faculty Member, ETC Nongsder and Smti. Loretta D. Nongbri, Assistant Director, e-Governance Cell, MATI.   

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