The Andhra Pradesh government Wednesday launched a sustainable livelihood model scheme for women of SC, ST, and backward communities. About 23 lakh women in the age group of 45 to 60 years will benefit from the scheme in the form of cash assistance of Rs 18,750 per annum aggregating to Rs 75,000 in four years which they can use to start small businesses like a vegetable or grocery shop.
The State has signed MoUs with ITC, Procter & Gamble, HUL, Amul and Reliance besides banks to provide entrepreneurship and business opportunities for those women who need help in starting small or medium business units.
Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy launched the YSR Cheyutha (handholding) scheme, which is aimed at economically empowering the women of the socially backward communities. The government will spend Rs 4,687 cores annually for the scheme.
The chief minister said during his 3,648 km padayatra, he had listened to the woes of many women who said that no government scheme applies to the age group of 45 to 60 years of the socially backward communities, which is a crucial phase in the life of a woman in running the family.
“When we talked of pensions from the age group of 45 years and above, detractors ridiculed the concept. After careful consideration, we have decided to provide financial incentive to women of that age group and also open up opportunities for entrepreneurship according to their convenience and it will continue for four years from our second year in office,” the CM said. To ensure that the monetary assistance is not usurped by middlemen or other family members, the amount would be directly credited into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
“Earlier, agencies meant for welfare of socially backward communities used to disburse loans but they would reach only one or two influential persons in a village of 1,000 population, leaving others high and dry. This scheme is different; it will ensure that the beneficiaries directly receive a financial aid that will open up opportunities for entrepreneurship starting from small grocery store to dairy and food processing and we are also showing the way for getting bank loans in their endeavour,” BC Welfare Minister C S Venugopalkrishna said.
Those who are in the last lap of the age group will get YSR Pension Kanuka Scheme which will compensate the financial aid and for those who are in the younger group (43-44) will be eligible to avail the scheme in the two year’s time. Thus, every year, the number of beneficiaries keeps changing with new additions and those who are going into the YSR Pension Kanuka fold, Social Welfare Minister P Viswaroop said.
The beneficiaries will have full freedom on how they would like to spend the annual amount of Rs 18,750 and there are no restrictions or compulsions. For those who want to invest the money, the village volunteers will come to the beneficiaries with a two-page letter to take their consent and the State has proposed a business model readymade for them.
In the next few months, the government will sign MoUs with more major companies which will create more business opportunities for these women beneficiaries. These companies will supply their products at the price they are supplying to their agents or even for less so that the women entrepreneurs will get more profit. Amul Cooperative will help out in dairy industry, Viswaroop said. SERP (Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty) and Mission for Elimination of Poverty and in Municipal Areas (MEPMA) will coordinate in the process.
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