Thiruvananthapuram: Over 4,000 expatriates, who returned to Kerala from abroad following the COVID-19 pandemic, have evinced interest to start new ventures here.
Over the past six months, 4,897 expats have registered with the Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NORKA) Department Project for Returned Emigrants (NDPREM) scheme, which helps these emigrants to start their own businesses, the state government said.
The number of registrations is much higher than the 1,043 registrations last year.
In the years before, this was less than 1,000.
While in the past most people were interested in service-oriented ventures like taxi/car rentals, but now, its restaurants, bakeries, workshops, oil mills, curry powder manufacturing, spice processing, and chapati manufacturing units, farms, sports hubs and gymnasiums, which they were keen to start.
K Varadarajan, Resident Vice Chairman of NORKA said, "At present, loans up to Rs 30 lakh are available under the NDPREM scheme which will be increased to Rs 50 lakh. The NORKA subsidy will also be increased from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
This will enable more Pravasis to start better ventures.
An amount of Rs 18 crore was sanctioned in the budget for the project.
But now, it has been decided to raise it to Rs 40 crore, he said.
Eighteen financial institutions in Kerala are cooperating with the scheme.
NORKA has signed an agreement with Kerala Financial Corporation (KFC) to provide loans of up to Rs 50 lakh to expatriates for starting ventures.
This year, NORKA aims to help 5,000 expatriates start their own businesses,he added.
NORKA is also assisting expatriates set up start-ups in the IT sector.
Steps are also being taken to provide employment to the Pravasi migrants, who have come back after losing their jobs, through the Dream Kerala project.
So far 3,000 job-seekers have registered for the scheme while 70 employers have also registered.
NORKA will complete the process by November 15.
In addition, NORKA has started discussions with the Civil Supplies Corporation (Supplyco) to enable expatriates to set up supermarkets.
Assistance of up to Rs 3 lakh will be provided by NORKA to expatriate societies for setting up enterprises which will employ at least five people,a government release said.
This year 60 societies will be given assistance.
It has also been decided to start Pravasi Apex Societies in all the panchayats on the condition that a society should start a venture that would employ at least 10 people.
As per an agreement with Meat Products of India, arrangements will be made for expats to open 5,000 outlets in Kerala.
The loan mela will resume soon after the COVID period.
(With inputs from PTI)