RI District 3212 is successfully encouraging entrepreneurship through its regular and ongoing 3-day residential RYLA programme sessions conducted every month in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, to create young entrepreneurs for today’s world. “Rotarians of RID 3212 contribute in different ways to ensure the success of this continuing programme. Youngsters between 18–28 years, from all over Tamil Nadu, and neighbouring states, who cherish dreams to become entrepreneurs, are identified and given skills to master different nuances of business management,” says district governor V R Muthu.
The training programme, which began 14 months before his term as governor, “and will continue beyond my year, has so far trained 620 participants through 20 training sessions. And of these, we are happy to announce, 93, including women, have started their own enterprises,” he added.
The actual cost of training each participant, in this programme, conducted by the training organisation Punch Gurukulam (PG), is ₹11,500, but at the RYLA, the course is offered at a subsidised rate of ₹2,500. The remaining expense is borne by the CSR wing of VVV Sons Edible Oils, in Virudhunagar which produces Idhayam brand of edible oil and is owned by DG Muthu.
The courses are conducted under the leadership of PG secretary Umashankar Jayaraman, along with project chairman and RYLA navigator Rtn K C Gurusamy, co-faculty J Srinivasan, and Rtns P Thanigaivel Pandian and Thanga Vijaya.
Giving details of the young and aspiring entrepreneurs who have already begun their own enterprises, Jayaraman said the youngsters have ventured into different areas to set up their own start-ups. These include virtual reality learning, recruitment and training, food business and home kitchen, and becoming franchisees for automotive service centres.
“One of them has set up a spirulina manufacturing plant; this is a herb with medicinal values, (a type of blue-green algae with strong antioxidant properties). Studies have shown that it reduces inflammation, promotes healthy aging, etc. One group of five youngsters have come together to set up a private limited company, Aquaketo, to develop ornamental fish using marine technology. The monthly turnover of the enterprises set up by the RYLA graduates ranges between ₹50,000 to 5 lakh.”
The best part of the story is that few of the entrepreneurs have already generated some employment, “I’d venture to say that some 40–50 people have been employed so far by these start-ups,” says Muthu.
Youngsters between 18–28 years, from all over Tamil Nadu, and neighbouring states, who cherish dreams to become entrepreneurs, are identified and given skills to master different nuances of business management.
— V R Muthu, District Governor
The RYLA organisers have also thought of giving the new start-ups some financial linkages. For one of the RYLA valedictory events, for the 18th batch, the Tirunelveli Collector Vishnu Venugopalan was the chief guest, and he was so impressed by the programme that he requested the Tirunelveli chief of the TN Startup hub, a TN government initiative to visit one of the RYLA sessions. “He did come for one of our sessions and has promised support to those who want to set up their own enterprises,” said Jayaraman. On the range of the loan available, he said it starts at “₹1 lakh, and could then go all the way upto ₹5 crore! We have also tied up with Srinidhi Investments, and the entrepreneur who started the spirulina business, has been given a loan of ₹5 lakh by them.”
Asked about mentoring by veteran entrepreneurs, he said, “We have formed a team in Punch Gurukulam for this purpose. Also, every Sunday, over a 1-hour online session, we introduce one component or industry to these people. They are given insight into financial planning, GST, the registration process, how to start a restaurant business, etc. Two people who have started restaurants, and others who have set up home kitchens, have tied up with Swiggy and Zomato to expand their reach,” added Jayaraman.
Coming to the feedback from the participants, Dharshana Shree, said, “These three days felt like a mini practical MBA course.” She has started a music coaching enterprise after the training.
Added Nuyonitha, “As a college student, I felt it is too early to get into business education, but after attending RYLA – Be an entrepreneur session — I realised that it is the right time now.
I will complete my studies, exploring all options of entrepreneurship as a prospective career option.” She has now decided to float her own CA firm, after she finishes her internship as a chartered accountant. These two women are among the 17 women who have attended these RYLA programmes.