Empowering SC-ST entrepreneurs key to achieving a $5 trillion economy

The recent Bihar caste survey brought out that the SC-ST community consists of over 21 percent of the state’s population, prompting a call for a greater share in the socio-political and socio-economic structures. Currently, Dalits have a poor presence in entrepreneurship and industry ownership across the country – according to the MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) Development Commissioner’s report for 2020, ownership of MSME units in India by Scheduled Caste entrepreneurs was only 8.9 per cent, while for Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs it was only 2.9 per cent of the total. The majority of SC-ST are first-time entrepreneurs with zero business experience and lack credible collateral and credit history to offer lenders. Furthermore, the absence of mentoring, inadequate access to capital, poor marketing skills, repressive social attitudes and rampant discrimination also restricts their growth.