Guwahati: A unique business model of linking women agarbatti (incense sticks) artisans with a marketing partner for the finished product is being implemented by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in Assam’s Kamrup Metropolitan.

Seventy tribal women are being engaged by the KVIC under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) to set up their own agarbatti manufacturing units in Birkuchi area, a PIB release said on Thursday.

The KVIC has roped in a local manufacturer who will provide raw material, labour charge, and take back all the incense sticks produced by these 70 women artisans. These women belong to seven self-help groups (SHGs).

This incense business model is unique in the sense that these women entrepreneurs will be free from the hassle of selling or marketing their finished goods. On the other hand, the business partner will enhance his agarbatti production without incurring any capital cost on purchasing new machines, the release said.

The KVIC is engaging Mahabahu Agro Products, an agarbatti manufacturing unit set up earlier under the PMEGP, as the business partner. It will also extend all technical support to these women entrepreneurs for manufacturing high-quality incense sticks. These 70 units will produce nearly 5,600 kg agarbattis daily.

A total financial aid of Rs 35 lakh, Rs 5 lakh for each of the 70 units through Assam Gramin Vikash Bank, Guwahati, to these women to set up the units has been facilitated by the KVIC, which has also given a subsidy of 35 per cent to support these units.

Handing over the loan sanction letters to the women entrepreneurs here during the day, KVIC chairman Vinai Kumar Saxena said this initiative aims at handholding artisans and supporting the local agarbatti industry.

It is a unique initiative to make India ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliant) in agarbatti production while creating sustainable employment for women entrepreneurs with very less investment. The KVIC will also explore such business models in other parts of the country that will not only empower small entrepreneurs but also increase domestic agarbatti production substantially, Saxena said.

The model has been designed because of two major decisions – import restriction on raw agarbatti and increase in import duty on bamboo sticks – taken by the Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Finance, respectively, to support the local agarbatti industry, the release said.

The current consumption of agarbatti in the country is approximately 1.790 MT per day while the daily production of incense sticks in the country is just 760 MT.

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