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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched the National SC/ST Hub here to provide support to entrepreneurs from the community.
With an initial outlay of Rs 490 crore, the hub will work towards strengthening market access/linkage, monitoring, capacity building, leveraging financial support schemes and sharing industry-best practices.
It will also enable central public sector enterprises to fulfill the procurement target set by the government.
The Public Procurement Policy 2012 stipulates that 4 per cent of procurement done by ministries, departments and CPSEs will have to be from enterprises owned by SC/ST entrepreneurs.
The MSME sector, including the service segment, is a key driver of India's economic growth as it contributes nearly 38 per cent to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and employs close to 11 Crore people.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his budget speech had announced setting up of the National SC/ST Hub under the MSME Ministry.
The Prime Minister also launched zero defect, zero effect (on environment) (ZED) scheme, distributed charkhas to women and presented national awards to outstanding micro, small and medium enterprises.
The ZED scheme was first mentioned by Modi in his Independence Day speech in 2014.
It denotes high quality manufacturing with a minimal negative impact on environment.
ZED will hand-hold MSMEs across the country in all Make in India sectors through quality control cells constituted by the government, which will rate them after carrying out annual assessment of their products.
It is aimed at raising quality levels in the unregulated MSME sector.
The assessment model based on quality and environment parameters designed by the Quality Council of India will initially target units belonging to sectors like textiles, apparel, food products and beverages, among others.