VC fund formed to help Dalit entrepreneurs

A venture capital (VC) fund, initiated by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), and set up by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), with an initial contribution of Rs 10 crore, was inaugurated by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram here on Thursday.

Launching the country’s first Sebi-registered social impact fund christened ‘the DICCI SME Fund’ here, Chidambaram said, “It is a modest beginning, all path-breaking projects begin on a modest scale, I am sure, one day this will grow into a massive tree.” The VC fund aims to raise Rs 500 crore over 10 years and finance Dalit entrepreneurs to set up their businesses.

Highlighting that the first Dalit fund will go a long way in creating social equity, the Finance Minister said, “The fact that the first Dalit Fund is being launched at the iconic ballroom of the historic Taj Mahal Hotel in the country’s financial capital is very significant.”
Chidambaram regretted, saying, “...that in India we have for centuries masked the fact that we discriminated against one quarter of our own people.”

He said that the Constitution of India provided for equality as also affirmative action. “Reservation may be a blunt instrument, but it is an useful instrument in the absence of a better alternative,” he observed. 

Complimenting DICCI for its pathbreaking initiative, the Finance Minister said that the Dalit chamber has now shown that acquiring economic power is a better instrument. “There is no better way to seek livelihood with dignity than being an entrepreneur standing on his own legs,” he added.

Underlining the UPA government’s commitment for promoting inclusive growth, Chidambaram said the small and medium enterprises route is the right path for empowerment of SC/ST entrepreneurs. He said the newly announced Public Procurement Policy mandates 20 per cent of all government and public procurement to be made from the MSME sector.

 It further stipulates that 4 per cent of all purchases should be made from firms run by the SC/ST entrepreneurs.

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