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Fresh Exim Bank thrust for rural products

Mohan Padmanabhan

Signs co-operation pacts with NGOs; helps bag orders from corporates

A FILE picture of products by rural artisans on display.

Kolkata , May 14

Exim Bank Ltd, now helping small and medium Indian enterprises working with the handicrafts and non-farm products sector to penetrate into developed country export markets, has decided to give a fresh thrust to its programme of supporting exports from rural India.

The bank facilitates entry of the SMEs into discerning markets abroad, through the operations of the Export Marketing Fund of the World Bank and also leveraging its own overseas network.

Talking to Business Line, Mr K. Muthukumaran, General Manager, Exim Bank, said the process was actually kickstarted at the grassroot level to understand the dynamics of the rural industries, particularly in Tamil Nadu.

According to him, rural products and handicrafts have strong "product equity" and would be able to capture value if properly marketed in developed markets abroad. The bank has MoCs (Memorandum of Cooperation) with NGOs such as Dhan Foundation in Tamil Nadu, BASIX in Andhra Pradesh and Uravu, a Trust based in Wayanad, Kerala. Besides these MoCs, the bank has also taken initiatives to coordinate business operations between various NGOs and Indian corporates.

He said companies such as Inca Hammock and Aban Lyod Chiles Offshore Ltd have already placed orders with "Kalajium Thozhilagam Ltd," (a wing of Dhan Foundation), for supply of handmade products. ITC, for instance, has placed orders with "Uravu" for developing a container made of bamboo (incense stick holders), for launching high-end agarbattis exclusively made for the overseas market. The prototype is said to be under development at Uravu.

The latest in the series of MoCs being signed by Exim Bank is the one with Care India - a development organisation, which supports and nurtures over one lakh SHGs through more than 200 NGO partners across 12 states in India. Mr Muthukumaran said the bank was in an advanced stage of discussions with Sampark, a society based in Bangalore, Karnataka, which identifies itself as "resource agency for NGOs active in the Koppal region of the State. Among the unique rural products identified for promotion are "Kasuthi" saris, a form of embroidery art now on the verge of extinction. Exim Bank's mandate for international marketing, in select markets, of `Mangaldeep' brand of agarbattis sourced and marketed by ITC is based on a `success fee' concept, he said.

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