Image used for representational purpose only. (File photo)
Image used for representational purpose only. (File photo)

Start-up of a new life for migrant workers

A startup hub created in West Champaran district by the DM has earned international repute and helped dozens of migrants hit hard by Covid lockdown, writes Ramashankar.

BIHAR: Nand Kishore, a migrant worker from Surat in Gujarat, had returned to his native village in north Bihar’s West Champaran district following the Covid-induced nationwide lockdown in October 2020. The 29-year-old was dejected amid an uncertain future. Nearly two years down the line, a semiliterate Nand Kishore is a changed person as he talks about his business plans, courtesy Chanpatia startup model. His unit produces around 2,000 sarees every month and stitches lehengas. He has already installed two machines and has plans to install as many amid rising demand.

“We were supplying lehengas and sarees to the adjoining areas. Today, we have expanded to Uttar Pradesh,” says Kishore. Businessmen are coming in from places like Pokhara, Kalya, Bhiswa and Parwan in Nepal to buy his products.

This has all become possible with a helping hand from the Bihar government. Kishore says the government had facilitated a bank loan of `25 lakh to him under a scheme to help Covid-hit migrant returnees get a headstart with new entrepreneurial ventures. Today, he has nearly repaid the loan. Kishore had worked in Surat as a mechanic for more than two decades since he left his native village as an eight-year-old boy. He said his last year’s turnover touched `15 crore as his unit sold face masks worth nearly `1 crore.

West Champaran district magistrate Kundan Kumar is credited with developing Chanpatia startup zone. The administration has not just provided land to set up units in the zone but also facilitates easy bank loans. Mrtiyunjay Sharma, 31, who was an engineer at the private cellular company Vodafone, lost his job in 2020 during the pandemic. Now, he owns a unit in the startup zone, producing tracksuits, T-shirts and school dresses.

He started out by producing 2.50 lakh face masks in 2020. Last year, he produced masks worth nearly `2.5 crores, earning a profit of `40 lakh. His unit also supplied 300 tracksuits to Bihar Police personnel. He hopes to bag an order for at least 1,000 tracksuits in the wake of new recruitments. His supplies go as far as Ahmedabad, and Siliguri, apart from the districts of East and West Champaran, Darbhanga, Sitamarhi and Patna in Bihar. His unit has employed 60 people.

Mrityunjay also applauds the state textile policy, saying it would give a boost to units operating in Chanpatia startup zone. Out of 58 units in the zone, 55 are engaged in textile work. After winning accolades from across the country for its products, the Chanpatia startup zone has now forayed into the global market as it has received orders from Qatar, Dubai, Malaysia and Indonesia for the export of dresses like saree, salwar suits and lehenga. DM Kumar has been honoured with the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration, 2021 for the initiative ‘Navpravartan Startup Zone, Chanpatia’ in the category of ‘Innovation District.’

The administration has deputed a senior officer to work as a facilitator and look into the grievances of businessmen. The officer, Ravi Prakash, visits the start-up zone on a regular basis and interacts with the businessmen. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has lauded the initiative of the West Champaran district administration for providing support to migrant workers for launching start-ups.He had also asked officials of other districts to adopt the Chanpatia model.

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The New Indian Express