T. Chitralekha, a beneficiary of Annal Ambedkar Business Champions Scheme, at her venture at Vilankurichi in Coimbatore.

T. Chitralekha, a beneficiary of Annal Ambedkar Business Champions Scheme, at her venture at Vilankurichi in Coimbatore.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

A total of 1,303 new and existing entrepreneurs belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) and the Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities in the State have availed themselves of ₹134.86 crore in capital subsidy for loans taken by them to start or promote their business under the State government’s flagship Annal Ambedkar Business Champions Scheme (AABCS).

After taking into account that the share of persons from these communities availing themselves of various entrepreneurship promotion subsidies from the government was low, the Department of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises launched the AABCS in May last year to promote economic development and entrepreneurs of the SC/ST community. Under the scheme, the Tamil Nadu government provides a 35% capital subsidy on the eligible project cost not exceeding ₹1.5 crore, and a 6% interest subvention for loans not exceeding 10 years.

The scheme does not prescribe any minimum educational qualification, but sets a cap of 55 years as the maximum age limit to reap the benefits. Both new and existing entrepreneurs from the SC/ST community are eligible for the benefits.

S. Maruthappan, Additional Director, Industries and Commerce, said that the scheme began with a total financial allocation of ₹100 crore. Aspiring and existing entrepreneurs who satisfy the eligibility criteria could approach the District Industries Centre (DIC) in their respective districts with a project proposal.

A task force headed by the Collector would scrutinise and give clearance. Once cleared, the beneficiaries can avail themselves of capital subsidy and interest subvention for their loans.

T. Chitralekha, 50, an assistant professor-turned-entrepreneur from Coimbatore, told The Hindu that the AABCS came as a surprise for her when she approached the DIC.

Ms. Chitralekha, an Electronics and Communication Engineering graduate who also holds a Doctorate, recalled that she wanted to take a break from her teaching career over a decade-long teaching career. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I decided to become an entrepreneur like my husband, who has a vast experience of nearly three decades in manufacturing auto parts. When we approached the DIC in Coimbatore with the project proposal to start an automobile parts’ manufacturing unit for electric vehicles, we were unaware of the scheme. The officials at the DIC explained the scheme to us…”

Ms. Chitralekha was given ₹62.37 lakh in capital subsidy. She started her venture at Vilankurichi in Coimbatore, and has been running it successfully. Nearly 25 persons are employed in her new venture and the company supplies their products to leading automobile and cycle manufacturers.

P. Prabhakaran, 54, another beneficiary from Salem, said that he had approached the DIC last December after seeing an advertisement on social media. “The DIC officials were friendly and explained the benefits of the scheme. I got ₹51 lakh in subsidy to buy three 14-wheeler trucks used for transporting heavy machinery and goods.”

He hoped that the government created more awareness on the scheme.

Mr. Maruthappan said that the government was also conducting online training programmes for beneficiaries to manage the accounts of their ventures.

Of the 1,303 beneficiaries under the scheme, 288 are women. They were disbursed a total capital subsidy of ₹ 33.09 crore.