Kudumbashree Mission has identified, trained, and placed men and women from among its community network for providing continuous support to the micro enterprises under its fold across the State. These personnel are called Micro Enterprise Consultants (MECs).
Kudumbashree had tried out the idea of MECs in the past also; however, MECs as professionally trained specialists capable of providing a wide range of services to micro enterprises came out of the study that the Mission conducted on micro enterprises in 2006. The study that covered around 50,000 micro enterprises brought out several weaknesses that needed systematic efforts to overcome. The new MEC system was meant to cater to the following issues.
- Lack of skill and gap in knowledge among entrepreneurs
- Viability of project ideas and formulation of realistic plans
- Creditworthiness of the poor and access to banks
- Economies of scale required for profitable operations
- Ensuring follow up support to enterprises (especially as they are dispersed across large areas)
- Lack of capabilities of the community network in supporting micro enterprises
MECs provide a wide range of services to both potential and existing entrepreneurs. The key services that the MECs provide are the following.
- Identification of business opportunities
- Preparation of business plans
- Liaison with financial institutions
- Information on and linkages with markets
- Support in accounting and book keeping
In addition, MECs form a resource pool for conducting enterprise related training programmes of Kudumbashree Mission as well as of other agencies within government and outside.
MECs are expected to work as 'consultants' charging their clients for the services availed. Their remuneration includes service fee paid by entrepreneurs, training fee paid by sponsoring institutions, and honorarium for specific support services provided to the Mission as per requirement.
The Mission has supported the formation of 33 groups of Micro Enterprise Consultants (MECs) across the 14 districts of the State for providing support in micro enterprise development and also in supporting entrepreneurs. There are a total of 230 MECs in the State.
During 2009-10, based on a decision to enhance the technical support to enterprises and entrepreneurs, Kudumbashree Mission selected 130 more MECs, thus creating a pool of 250 MECs in the State. Of these, 31 MECs were trained under a programme called CREAM.
CREAM – Certificate in Rural Enterprise Administration and Management
- It is compressed MBA, administered in 42 days spread over seven months, interspersed with practical training and assignments, with focus on small rural enterprises
- Training of Trainer approach was used to expand coverage cost-effectively.
The remaining MECs were trained under a programme called TEAM, which was a compressed CREAM.
TEAM – Training in Rural Enterprise Administration and Management
- It is an application-oriented training conducted in 18 days over six months
- Modules were developed by CREAM faculty
- Training was delivered by Trainers trained under CREAM
The MEC groups are capable of providing technical and managerial support to a wide range of micro enterprises. MEC groups are expected to evolve into consulting enterprises through the programme.
MECs and the Kudumbashree Community Network
In the Kudumbashree community network, Community Development Societies (CDS) are responsible for micro enterprise promotion in their respective areas. MEC system is considered a support system that supports CDS in devising, implementing, and monitoring livelihood development strategies and activities centred around the principle of local economic development.