The state of Odisha in Eastern India may be known for its ancient Hindu temples, but now it has a new claim to fame: an unemployment rate of just 0.9%. (The unemployment rate in India was 8.3% in 2022.)
With over 1,300 startups established in Odisha last year alone, generating 10,000 job opportunities, the state’s entrepreneurial spirit is clearly thriving.
And the Odisha government is taking notice. It’s clear that young entrepreneurs drive jobs and innovation, and the government is providing them the necessary support.
“In the realm of youth development and entrepreneurship, India is experiencing a remarkable surge of energy and innovation,” says Amit Patjoshi, CEO of Palladium India. “65% of our population is below the age of 35. The boundless potential of our young minds, combined with the right support and opportunities, is creating unprecedented progress for everyone— individuals and India alike.”
Building on this momentum, the government has set an ambitious target of nurturing 5,000 startups by 2025.
As part of that vision, the Odisha Skill Development Authority, in collaboration with the World Skill Center and Asian Development Bank, has awarded Palladium the role of implementation partner for the program SWAKALPA (which translates to Self-Creation or Self-Initiative in Hindi). The program aims to equip 10,000 ambitious youth with essential skills for self-employment and entrepreneurship and establish at least 1,000 self-employed individuals or micro-businesses across various sectors.
The program places strong emphasis on gender equality, aiming for a minimum 25% representation of women in all program stages.
"Through this initiative, 100 hours training of entrepreneurial skill training followed by a mentorship program of 24 weeks. This will help the candidates to develop their business plans," explains Jitendra Mohan Sahoo, General Manager, Swakalpa & RPL, World Skill Center.
Sandeep Lanjewar, Director of Palladium India, underscores the program's selective approach. “Palladium will be shortlisting 10,000 trainees from the wide pool of skilled youth and carry out 100 hours of training on self-employment, entrepreneurship development, leadership skills, market analysis, basics of finance, branding and marketing, and market linkages.”
"Following the training program, candidates will engage in a business pitch and then some will be selected for an intensive, 24-week personalised mentorship."
The program will run through 2024 and encompass a wide array of sectors, including fabrication, electric work, handicrafts and handlooms, food processing, agriculture, and skin care and beauty. The hope is that through a diverse selection of sectors, SWAKALPA can continue to meet market needs and further support its young entrepreneurs and the future of Odisha’s economy.
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