Calling social entrepreneurs from North East region to apply for UNDP-HSBC India BELM Programme

UNDP with HSBC India is launching the Business Enterprise Leadership and Management Programme (BELMP) under project PROSPER (Producers in Organized Supply Chain Enterprise). PROSPER is designed in partnership with Dasra, Industree Foundation along with IIM, Shillong as an academic partner.

The BELMP is designed for social entrepreneurs who are working in the natural fibre value chain in Northeast India. To apply, social entrepreneurs need to either be working directly with natural fibres such as jute, bamboo, coconut, eri, water hyacinth, among others, or their related/ value added products, in the handloom, handicraft and agriculture and allied sectors.

BELMP is a three-phased programme:

- In the first phase, the selected social entrepreneurs will go through a six-month training programme with experts and practitioners coordinated by IIM Shillong.
- In the second phase, UNDP will mentor the social entrepreneurs to scale their businesses by helping in grant, proposal writing, creating market linkages and buyer connects.
- In the third phase, social entrepreneurs guided by UNDP will work closely with their own primary producers/ producer communities to build their capacities.

UNDP will hand-hold the entrepreneurs for a year and a half until 2022. The course and the entire programme is designed to be actionable with practical educational modules on helping your social enterprise grow and adapt to new business realities. It is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to be become part of a network of northeast social entrepreneurs for unique cross-learning opportunities.

In the first phase, during the six-month training programme (considering current conditions, through online mode) with IIM, Shillong, will include practical, theory, field, and reflection-based learning. This course is designed to build individual and institutional competencies, develop management skills, learn marketing tools and enhance self/organisational orientation for further development.

The key pillars of learning will be based on:

i. Entrepreneurial Competencies:
- Governance, audit, and legal compliance knowledge
- Understanding schemes and policies and others

ii. Entrepreneurial Marketing:
- Market orientation and linkages
- Branding and product strategy
- Digital and social media marketing

iii. Entrepreneurial Management:
- Raising capital and debt management
- Value chain management
- Dynamic business models and others

iv. Entrepreneurial Orientation:
- Strategies for transformational leadership
- Personal and organizational excellence
- Business model innovation

BELMP has been designed to enhance the capacities of social entrepreneurs and producers in the Northeast region working specifically in natural fiber or related products, across the value chain by ensuring holistic learning through practical and knowledge sharing to enhance skills pertaining to;

a. Marketing and Mobilization
b. Finance and Accounting
c. Operations/Services
d. Infrastructure
e. Strategy and Business Planning

In the second phase, after the 6-month programme UNDP will support the selected entrepreneurs to scale their businesses through another year of deep mentoring for creating market linkages and developing financial capital. There will also be scope for social entrepreneurs to learn from practices of other organisations through exposure and field visits (based on COVID travel restrictions and safety), across the country.

The social entrepreneurs will be given dedicated mentors who would be local development practitioners, throughout the entire programme period, to help and support them for business development.

In the third phase, UNDP will assist the social entrepreneurs to take their learnings from the other phases and work closely with their producer communities to build their capacities. This is a unique opportunity to be part of a larger network of social entrepreneurs, supported by experts, building managerial capacities and scaling their business.

The BELMP application process was launched on 21st August and will end on 2nd October 2020, through the following application and the IIM, Shillong website. It is applicable for social entrepreneurs from all North-eastern States.

Who is eligible?
- Registered institution for at least 6 months
- Associated with natural fibres working in the handloom, handicraft, agriculture and allied industries
- Age range of 21-45 (preferred)
- Ability to comprehend and communicate in English
- Works with a team of 15 primary producers/employees
- Owns and manages her/his/their own production unit/CFC

Both globally and domestically, natural fibers are gaining importance as a renewable and environment friendly raw material option for textile products, packaging material, home furnishing, furniture, construction material etc.

Northeast India has huge potential to be a global market force for the same with an abundance of bamboo, jute, flax, linseed, ramie, pat, matikothal, coconut etc. which are well known natural fiber yielding plants.

The properties of natural fibers are influenced by various factors such as weather conditions, date of harvest, the degree of maturity at harvest, the retting process, decortication, processing and cleaning procedures etc. There is huge potential for entrepreneurs from Northeast who are already making huge impact, to scale and reach even greater heights.

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