DICCI looks to create 100 Dalit billionaires
The industry body which is espousing the cause of SC/ST entrepreneurs has launched Rs 500 crore venture fund for this purpose P Madhusudhan Reddy ...
The industry body which is espousing the cause of SC/ST entrepreneurs has launched Rs 500 crore venture fund for this purpose P Madhusudhan Reddy Milind Kamble, hailing from the small village of Chobli in Latur district of Maharashtra, cherishes a dream no Dalit has ever thought about till now. He wants to create Dalit business leaders in the country and transform Dalits into job givers, not job seekers. "My immediate goal is to create 100 Dalit rupee billionaires in the country. We have already launched Rs 500-crore venture fund for this purpose. We have identified 25 people who will be provided with the funding in the first phase. The initiative will be implemented in phases," Milind Kamble, a civil engineer by profession, and founding chairman of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), told The Hans India in a exclusive interview. Can you tell us about your entrepreneurial journey? I began my journey way back in 1994 with Rs 25,000 capital. The first work I executed was Rs one lakh worth civil contract. Since then, I never looked back. Now my MPK group, which comprises MPK Enterprises Private Limited and Maitreye Tradeline Private Limited, has a turnover of around Rs 70 crore. It is into construction, trading and several other businesses. Now I am founder chairman of DICCI. Therefore, I have no time to spare for my own business now as I travel a lot. I am content with what I have achieved with my group. Now I will work for society and for the betterment of Dalit entrepreneurs. How did the business people from SC/ST background respond when you started the industry body? Initially, many people hesitated to join the body because they felt that their business would adversely be impacted if their identity was revealed. However, DICCI, founded in 2003, gained popularity gradually and had grown into a pan-India organization. At present, we have 3,000 members whose combined turnover is over Rs 27,000 crore. Apart from these, there are scores of other Dalit entrepreneurs in the country. According to 2007 census, over 1.64 lakh registered SMEs are owned by people from SC/ST background. What DICCI has done for Dalit entrepreneurs so far? DICCI has succeeded in influencing government policies in many ways for the benefit of Dalit youth. Foremost among them is the central government's decision to earmark 4 per cent of its total procurement budget for SC/ST entrepreneurs. The Centre through nearly 60 departments and several public sector undertakings, procures materials worth Rs 6 lakh crore a year. With this new rule, Dalit businessmen now have a ready and assured market of Rs 24,000 crore. What does DICCI plan to do in future? My dream is to create 100 SC/ST billionaires. All of them will be new entrepreneurs or existing small businessmen with turnover of Rs 3 to 4 crore. DICCI will provide funding for them so that they can achieve Rs 100 crore turnover. We have launched Rs 500 crore venture capital fund for this purpose and even identified 25 people who will get the funding in first phase. We have already raised Rs 50 crore for the fund. By March 31, 2014, we will close the first round fund of Rs 150 crore and start disbursing the funds. Is it correct on your part to create a separate industry body for Dalits? Doesn't it perpetuate age-old alienation? I am follower of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkhar who repeatedly said that there is no freedom without economic independence. Somehow that vision was lacking. There are pioneers from Dalit communities in political, social and intellectual space. But there are no business leaders. So we thought about the chamber which can create business leaders. We established DICCI in Pune to inspire the community. Also, Dalit youth can identify themselves with the chamber. Our main objective is to bring Dalits into mainstream, not to alienate them. Once we achieve our goal, we will change name of the chamber.