Women entrepreneurs of Vijayawada are all set to create history by developing an industrial estate exclusively for themselves at Surampalli, 10 km away from the city.
The main architects of this initiative are K Kanakadurga, owner of a decorative grills unit and president of the local arm of the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh, and Aleap state president K Ramadevi.
These women entrepreneurs have acquired a 30-acre plot at Surampalli for Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million). They are, at present, providing infrastructure facilities like roads, water, drainage and a power substation at a cost of Rs 1 crore, which includes a Central subsidy of Rs 30 lakh (Rs 3 million).
The subsidies for the industrial estate add up to 50 per cent of the capital investment. The incentives include the 10 per cent subsidy given by the state government and 25 per cent subsidy for agro industries by the Khadi Village Industries Commission.
Seventy women industrialists have already purchased plots. Three or four units will shift their production to the estate by June.
The estate has 123 plots, each with 600 yards, costing Rs 300,000. These are available for women entrepreneurs who have applied for government loans, and will be provided non-stop electricity.
Andhra Bank is advancing loans of up to Rs 15 lakh (Rs 1.5 million) per entrepreneur without collateral and the association has also roped in SBI and Indian Overseas Bank for sanctioning loans to its members.
The highlight of the estate will be the setting up of a food testing laboratory, the first of its kind in the Krishna and Guntur districts, without which at present quality parameters are missing in most of the food items produced in the two districts.
Units based on mango pulp for producing mango candy, bars; industries for making starch, tamarind, ginger and tomato powders, boiled rava and wheat, fruit juices and squashes, honey and white paper napkins and units for growing mushrooms will be given priority.
These units will add value to the agricultural crops raised in the district. Firms for producing tetra packs, shirts, saris with batik paintings, biscuits are also coming up in the industrial estate.
ALEAP has sent many of its 200 members and aspiring industrialists for training in the Central Food Technology Research Centre at Pune.
A number of entrepreneurs have received training in the National Integrated Fashion Technology Centre in Hyderabad. Embroidery work by some Aleap members are exported to Sri Lanka and Mauritius.
"The entrepreneurs include women of all ages and background. Many of them have their units spread over the length and breadth of the city. They face many problems in running them. Once they shift their units to the industrial estate, their problems will disappear," Kanakadurga said.
Ramadevi said the exhibition societies in Vijayawada and Hyderabad were helping them by allowing their members to install their stalls at concessional rates.
The association was also exploring ways to bring out products made in the industrial estate under the Aleap brand name to solve marketing related problems.
The government has promised to allot an additional 10 acres if the present venture succeeded, Kanakadurga said. The two entrepreneurs demanded that women entrepreneurs be given sales tax exemption, which would help them tide over financial problems.
"The trend of young women getting into business is increasing rapidly and Aleap is ready to help them," Ramadevi said. "As part of this programme, the association is organising seminars to woo aspiring women entrepreneurs," she said.
The State Industrial Development Corporation had trained 40 budding women industrialists 12 years ago, of whom many have joined Aleap.