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Credit: Ravi Shankar Prasad; Twitter

Credit: Ravi Shankar Prasad; Twitter

Small Industries Development Bank of India supports Common Service Centres as access points for electronic services

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) on 24 May signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that operates Common Service Centres (CSCs). The memorandum aims to ensure credit is easily available to village level entrepreneurs (VLEs), to provide financial support to CSCs across India and to promote the spread of Digital India.

The Common Services Centres (CSC) project is one of the initiatives launched under the Digital India Programme that was initiated by the Indian Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi. CSCs function as access points for the delivery of various digital services to citizens including banking, education, health services and passport and Aadhaar registration. The CSCs also provide access to online government services such as booking train tickets, submission of forms and bills etc.

CSCs are working in 180,000 (1.8 lakh) village councils (gram panchayats) and are set to reach 250,000 (2.5 lakh) village councils (gram panchayats) by end of this year.

Positioned as strategic cornerstones of the Digital India programme, as many as 291,000 thousand (2.91 lakh) CSCs are operating in the country as reported in 2016.

As part of the agreement, the SIDBI will extend its financial aid to the Village Level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) of Common Services Centres, with a minimum one year of operation, under the Direct Financing Window of SIDBI.

In the press release, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Electronics & IT and Law & Justice, said that he was pleased that the SIBDI has offered to support CSCs financially. With more funding, there will be more opportunities for CSCs and this will encourage rural entrepreneurship and lead to development.

According to the press release, under the Direct Financing Window, the CSC SPV will approve the list of VLEs, within a 25-kilometre distance of SIDBI Branch Offices, who require financial aid. To take a loan, the VLEs have to submit their CSC project, with maximum project expenditure of IN₹ 3.50 lakh (about US$ 5,128) and a long-term loan requirement not exceeding IN₹ 2lakh (the US $2,930) per project.

Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology (MeitY) Secretary, Mr Ajay Prakash while discussing the development of DigiGaon Dhanaudi Kalan in Uttar Pradesh, said that the SIDBI, by providing financial support will be able to create new opportunities for the CSCs to plan and implement new initiatives in underdeveloped areas.

Through the MoU, the CSC SPV and SIDBI will be able to give more citizens and rural entrepreneurs adequate financial funding. The partnership between the two will improve the financial viability of CSCs by including more services, adding to its list of plans and products.

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