Guwahati: The Northeast Region (NER) of India is replete with natural resources, varied horticulture, tourism and biodiversity. It is endowed with perennial water bodies, diverse ethnic groups and an especially high female literacy rate. But the region also faces challenges due to difficult terrain, sparse populations, poor connectivity, varied socio-cultural groups — affecting its pace of growth and in turn widening inequality gaps.
All of the above are not challenges but opportunities for local innovations to thrive and new entrepreneurship models to emerge. The Northeastern states of India have an immense potential to show not only to rest of the country but to the world about true path to sustainable development. The diversity of challenges will give rise to a plethora of solutions that can be replicated in similar topographies in the world. The uniqueness of the skills sets, terrains and livelihoods opportunities means there needs to a customised approach to the Northeast.
Biren Singh, an innovator and entrepreneur based in Bishnupur, Manipur, developed the first prototype of a modified power loom in 1992. In 2004, the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) recognised his innovative shuttle loom which simulates the working principles of traditional Manipuri shuttle loom (Yongkham).
Recalling how he was motivated to innovate such a loom, he says, seeing an old woman of the house weaving cloth in a dim light on traditional loom to maintain her family inspired him to innovate a loom which was operated by electric power sans manpower. The mechanised loom can weave 3 to 4 m of fabric per hour whereas the traditional one could hardly make 1-2 m of fabric in a day. Except for the change of bobbin, the machine doesn’t require any manpower. He designs and manufactures the looms in a workshop in his house, engaging the local youth for their livelihood.
AIC-SELCO Foundation Incubation Centre based out of Guwahati aims to link local innovations, entrepreneurship and sustainable development. The AIC via its mandate shall encourage mushrooming of North East led innovations/enterprises thus ensuring an inclusive development of the region.
In this effort to nurture a local ecosystem, strengthening partnerships, local supply chains and inspire innovation and entrepreneurship, a two-day (Feb 28 and 29) North East Trade Facilitation Fair is being organised at Maniram Dewan Trade Centre in Guwahati by AIC-SELCO Foundation Incubation Centre, SELCO Foundation, TATA TRUSTS and its partners.
The forum is intended to bring together different stakeholders to exchange and demonstrate models and processes that can be replicated for sustainable livelihoods through decentralised and renewable energy and encourage opportunities for disadvantaged communities in Northeast. These stakeholders would be government departments, manufacturers, innovators, entrepreneurs, policy-makers, NGOs, industry bodies from across NER.
Marking the first edition of this fair, Harish Hande, CEO, SELCO Foundation said, “There are many upcoming enterprises in the North East, who are pushing for the cause of development and sustainability. The trade fair is an ideal window for the world to know their presence and will be a platform for them to leap from. We are hosting this fair to encourage rural enterprises and entrepreneurs to demonstrate solutions to relevant stakeholders across India to scale decentralized sustainable solutions.”
The convention hopes to be the catalyst to empower and enable the local people to become active partners and advocates of sustainable energy powered livelihoods application. This trade facilitation programme will also be a platform for livelihood technology providers from across India and clean energy solution providers within Northeast to showcase their products.
For more information, visit www.netrade.selcofoundation.org.