Large number of (approximately 60,000) service personnel retire every year from the Indian Army at a comparatively young age. Majority of them are at a stage in their lives where numerous domestic responsibilities are yet to be fulfilled, which necessitates their looking for a second stream of income. There are many initiatives by the army for re-skilling and finding job opportunities for them. However, there are challenges.
Most of these veterans are from rural areas, who have spent their service life away from their families. The jobs, if and when available, are mostly in urban areas; but they like to stay in their native place with their family. If, in retirement, they are able to be “actively engaged” in their native place and able to stay with their families, it is indeed a win-win situation.
Veterans of Indian Army are a fertile group of participants to become entrepreneurs and help create wealth and jobs as: (i) they are skilled, (ii) they have many traits of becoming a successful entrepreneurs – like calculated risk taking ability, discipline, value of commitment, never give up attitude etc – to mention a few, (iii) they are young and are ready for a second innings, and (iv) most of them are from rural areas where they like to settle down – thus helping local economy and youth. This is a pool of well trained and qualified human resource; their talent needs to be utilized in solving some of the problems faced by the country.
Job opportunities for young people, especially in rural areas, is one of the problems.
I Create and DIAV (Directorate of Indian Army Veterans) have jointly agreed to address this urgent issue by establishing many BICs (Business Incubation Centers) in the country for the veterans and their families so that they can consider being job creators instead of job seekers.
An MOU was executed in May 2018 between I Create India and DIAV, for establishing BICs in different identified Army Centers with the purpose of providing entrepreneurship training and mentoring to those of the retiring NCOs (Non Commissioned Officers) and JCOs (Junior Commissioned Officers), who were desirous of starting their own enterprises after retirement. The BICs are to be set up in PPP (Public Private Partnership) mode – DIAV/Army Centers, I Create India and Corporate CSR Funders being the partners.
BICs are mainly focused on retiring NCOs and JCOs to make them aware of the process, pleasures and perils of entrepreneurship. Those who get interested in starting their entrepreneurial journey need to be trained, guided and mentored as also handheld after they start their enterprise. Various stages involved in the journey have been visualized in the five-day Aspiring Entrepreneurship Workshop (AEW).
At each center, I Create faculty is involved in creating awareness about entrepreneurship among the retiring JCOs and NCOs and providing training in entrepreneurship skills as well as mentoring those who wish to start their own enterprise and handhold them. After this training, anyone wishing to start own business will be mentored to develop own business plan and provided with handholding support – collectively called Business Incubation.
I Create intervention through the establishment of BICs provides an opportunity to Veterans to become a job creator and also helps wealth creation in the community. It also helps in stopping migration from rural to urban areas in search of employment.
As of 1st Quarter of 2021, four BICs are operational in the following Army Centers.
The BICs are sponsored and funded by HCL Foundation and Bajaj Holdings & Investment Pvt. Ltd.