KOCHI: True to its word that it’s always with young entrepreneurs, the Kerala government came to the rescue of six youths who landed up in a financial crisis after chasing their dream of launching a startup in the state. The government paid their debt after their firm ran into trouble with orders getting cancelled. It all began in 2013 when six students of the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram (CET) joined hands to launch a garment unit, Der Peoples Empowerment Company (Pvt) Ltd, in Kannur under the student entrepreneurship scheme of the state government.
Shehaz V B, 32, a native of Ernakulam, says,”We, six CET students, pledged our properties to avail a loan of Rs 60 lakh from KFC for launching the startup. We were confident of making it big after we got a major order from Dubai. But it got cancelled, and things started going out of our hand.”
Debts mounted to Rs 97.70 lakh in 2020, when the KFC took up the request of the students for consideration at an adalat. Treating it as a special case, the KDF decided to waive off Rs 66.49 lakh. The outstanding debt was fixed at Rs 31.21 lakh. They sold off the machinery of the unit and other assets and repaid Rs 20.21 lakh. Still there was a shortage of Rs 11 lakh. All these took nearly two years and it was then that the state government stepped in offering them a subsidy of Rs 11 lakh.
We were completely shattered, says Shehaz
All these took nearly two years and it was then that the state government stepped in offering them a subsidy of Rs 11 lakh. On April 28, 2022, the government issued an order sanctioning payment of the amount to the KFC to completely close their debt. “We were completely shattered because we decided to pursue our dream after rejecting campus placement offers,” says Shehaz, who lost his right hand in an accident at the age of four.
He is now on a contract job with PWD.“Pursuing a startup dream in non-IT sector was challenging. But we decided to go ahead with it. By the time we learnt our mistake, things were not in our control,” said Raqib Rasheed, another youth in the team.