The J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) in Pampore, the scene of a second gunbattle between security forces and militants this year, has been a Valley success story, drawing youths from different parts of the state to its programmes on skill development and capacity building.
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Officials at EDI, who rank it as one of the most successful startups in the country, underline that it’s a centre par excellence with state-of-the-art regional centres across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Community organisers are present in all 22 districts of the state, enabling entrepreneurship and promoting development at the grassroots.
Established in 1997 to develop and hone entrepreneurial skills, the EDI began functioning in 2004. Since then, more than 4,000 youths have trained at this institute — these include 1,800 youths from the Valley.
Mohammad Ismail Parray, Director of EDI, told The Indian Express: “It is very unfortunate that our institute is burning again. After the main complex was damaged in the February encounter, we turned the hostel complex into our office. We have secured all our records online.”
In fact, a month before the last encounter, 373 youths successfully completed their training at the institute — they were trained for three weeks from December 21, 2015 to January 13, 2016.
“Currently, two short-term business entrepreneurship courses help the unemployed youth understand opening of new businesses, and in getting government subsidies, processing loans and finances for the businesses,’’ an EDI senior instructor said. “Many who received training and loans are now running successful ventures across the state.’’
The EDI offers short-term programmes on handicraft, boutiques, shawl making, embroidery, training for pharmaceutical stockists, timber shops, and other courses.
The institute also runs a youth startup programme and collaborates with the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation to provide loans to marginalised sections of society at six per cent simple interest for setting up micro-level enterprises.
“In 2015-2016 alone, 968 beneficiaries availed this loan facility while 395 have do so this financial year. So far, 1,552 candidates who trained under Himayat have also been financed,’’ an official said.
On Monday, after the militants again occupied the EDI complex, former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “No wonder for the 2nd time this year they have attacked the institute. They want young Kashmiris to be subservient & bitter not self-reliant. All the EDI ever did was train young Kashmiri boys & girls to stand on their own feet & not seek government jobs. Militants don’t like that!”
Officials said that during the rule of the NC-Congress government, the Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for Youth, with Seed Capital Fund Scheme (SCFS) as its major component, became a turning point because it helped many youth become self-reliant.
Those who availed benefits from the EDI schemes are grateful for the training received. “When we see damaged buildings, it hurts. Whatever I am today is because of the assistance I got through the EDI and the training I received there,’’ said a youth who now has his own business in a north Kashmir town.