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What’s Aspire Scheme from MSME ministry, eligibility, benefits, more; check details

Apply for Aspire Scheme: MSME ministry’s Aspire (A Scheme for Promotion of Innovation, Rural Industries & Entrepreneurship) programme, which was approved for continuation from the financial year 2021-22 to 2025-26 period with a budget outlay of Rs 194.87 crore, focuses on job creation and reducing employment along with promoting entrepreneurship and innovation to strengthen the competitiveness of MSME sector.

Importantly, the scheme has three components, first, Livelihood Business Incubator (LBI) that imparts skill development and incubation programmes to promote entrepreneurship and employment generation in agro-rural sector with a special focus on rural and underserved areas. 

Second, Technology Business Incubator (TBI), though discontinued but TBIs approved till March 31, 2021, are supported with financial assistance for the procurement of plant and machinery. 

Also read: MSME Guide: How to start and run your business in India

Third, Aspire Fund of Funds to invest in early-stage startups (through alternate investment funds) developing technology and businesses in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship, developing forward and backward linkages with multiple value chain of manufacturing and service delivery in the agro-based sector. 

As of December 31, 2022, 102 LBIs and 22 TBIs were approved, of which 63 LBIs and 14 TBIs became operational. In LBIs, 67,564 beneficiaries were trained, of which 16,721 trainees got self-employed and 10,274 trainees were employed in the agro rural sector. 

Eligibility for Aspire Scheme  

The scheme is available for any agency or institution of the government/state government or existing training centres under ministries and departments of the central or state government, industry associations, and academic institutions. Moreover, any not-for-profit private institutions with experience in successfully executing incubation and/or skill development programmes can apply to set up an LBI. 

Submitting Proposal 

To submit the proposal for setting up an LBI, the applicant enterprise has to select a ‘Mentor Institute’ (MI) and upload the proposal through the selected institute on the scheme’s website or share it as a soft copy to the MSME ministry. The list of the designated MIs will be available on the portal of the scheme. 

MIs are national or state-level institutions with expertise in rural industries designing and imparting incubation and skill development programmes to promote entrepreneurship. For instance, society registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860, co-operative society, Section 8 Company under the Companies Act, trust or any central or state government organizations. 

Evaluating Proposal 

The proposal submitted will be appraised based on the company’s strength in promoting livelihood-based enterprises taking into account the locally available resources and local needs, according to the scheme’s details. Moreover, a Project Screening Committee (PSC) has to be constituted under each MI chaired by the designated head of the Ml for management and implementation of the scheme.

Also read: Listing on BSE SME Exchange: How MSMEs can list on SME platform of BSE; check criteria, step-by-step process

The committee will be responsible for evaluating the detailed project report for setting up the LBI and forwarding it to the ministry for final approval by a Scheme Steering Committee (SSC) under the chairmanship of the Secretary of the ministry. 

Support Offered 

The enterprise setting up an LBI will be provided with a one-time grant of 100 per cent of the cost of plant and machinery other than the land and infrastructure or an amount up to Rs 1 crore, whichever is less. In case the applicant is a private enterprise, a one-time grant of 75 per cent of the cost of plant and machinery other than the land and infrastructure or Rs 75 lakh, whichever is less. 50 per cent of the approved amount for procuring plant and machinery is released to MI after approval of the incubation centre by SSC and the remaining is released after installation of the plant and machinery at the centre. 

Moreover, to support the operational expenditure of applicants, a one-time grant of up to Rs 1 crore would be provided. This included funds for conducting awareness and outreach programmes, onboarding of incubatees, advisory services to incubatees, procurement of raw materials for hands-on training on projects, support services such as GST, design support, etc., and engaging with various service providers for incubatees.

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