KASARGOD: It’s two in the afternoon. A small group of students of Thalangara in Kasargod town start trickling in their uniforms to a nondescript room two blocks away from the centuries-old Malik Deenar Mosque. Throwing their satchels into a corner, they take positions before the computer terminals. It’s gaming time.
“This is the mecca of entertainment in this area,” says Asfaq Ali, who runs the gaming centre with an obvious sounding name: Playstation. By 10 in the night, at least 40 schoolchildren and college students would have played FIFA or tested their virtual racing skills with Need for Speed, the most popular game at the centre.
But not many of the young ‘racers’ know their hangout pad is indirectly run by their mothers; for Kudumbashree -- the State government’s poverty eradication mission -- has a stake in it.
The Kasargod Community Development Society (CDS) -- as a municipality-level Kudambashree unit is called -- is moving away from the agri-based vocations to more contemporary businesses to create jobs and encourage entrepreneurs.
“Since our members are from the town, we have to play at the next level to create jobs,” said Shakeela Majeed, chairperson of Kasargod CDS.
Asfaq Ali is a young computer engineer, but poverty had pinned him down for long. In government language, he comes from a below poverty line (BPL) family.
Four months ago, Kudumbashree identified the struggling Ali and decided to help him set up the gaming centre. “Of course, the idea was his, but we arranged 25 per cent of the capital investment and gave him the training,” said 35-year-old Shakeela, who helped to turn the CDS into the best performing one in the state in 2013.
Ali needed Rs 3 lakh to kickstart his business, of which, Kudumbashree gave him Rs 75,000. “He doesn’t have to return it. We will monitor his progress and will continue to invest in his venture, if required,” she said.
But Ali’s Playstation may not need the second round of investment. Ali earns around Rs 1,000 daily, and is always prompt with his EMI of Rs 4,000 per month. He says he will soon do the interiors and upgrade his computers to high-performing ones.
Under Shakeela Majeed, the Kasargod CDS also helped start two laptop service centres, three photography studios, one napkin unit and one creche, among the total 101 business units launched this year.
For the creche, Kudumbashree helped reduce Savitha P K’s total investment by 50 pc. “I have invested nearly Rs 4 lakh in the creche. Of that Kudumbashree will give me Rs 2 lakh as loan and Rs 85,000 as aid,” said Savitha.
Kudumbashree Mission’s intervention does not begin and end with such loans. First it will organise a general orientation training, second, an entrepreneurial training, and then the required skill training. “Those who survive the first two phases only will be given skill training and financial assistance,” said K P Rajagopalan, executive member of Kasargod CDS.
Nazar Abdullah, who has set up a laptop repair shop with the help of Kudumbashree, also dabbles in sales. “I make a neat profit of Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per piece,’ he says.
Till August this year, the Kasargod municipality-level Kudumbashree has helped create 407 jobs and 204 entrepreneurs. Add to that another 50 farm-based entrepreneurs. “That performance is better than Kochi CDS,” says Rajagopalan.