The Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) scheme is a pioneering initiative by the Government of India aimed at promoting the economic empowerment of women through entrepreneurship. Launched by the Ministry of Small Scale Industries in 1996, TREAD focuses on providing financial and technical support to women entrepreneurs in various sectors, enabling them to start and expand their businesses.
Background and Rationale:
The TREAD scheme was introduced to address the specific challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship, such as limited access to capital, technical know-how, and market linkages. It recognizes that women constitute a significant portion of the population and have immense potential to contribute to economic growth and development.
Objectives of TREAD:
- Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: TREAD aims to empower women by providing them with the necessary resources and support to start and grow their businesses.
- Facilitating Financial Assistance: The scheme offers financial assistance to women entrepreneurs through grants and subsidies to help them overcome initial capital constraints.
- Promoting Skill Development: TREAD focuses on enhancing the entrepreneurial skills and capabilities of women through training programs, workshops, and skill development initiatives.
- Market Linkages and Promotion: The scheme aims to connect women entrepreneurs with markets, both domestic and international, through exhibitions, trade fairs, and other promotional activities.
- Encouraging Innovation and Technology Adoption: TREAD encourages women entrepreneurs to adopt innovative technologies and practices in their businesses.
Components of TREAD:
- Grants for Skill Development and Training: TREAD provides grants to support training programs and skill development initiatives for women entrepreneurs. This includes training in areas such as business management, financial literacy, and technical skills.
- Subsidies for Capital Expenditure: Women entrepreneurs can avail subsidies for capital expenditures related to setting up or expanding their businesses. This may include subsidies for purchasing machinery, equipment, and other assets.
- Market Promotion and Exhibitions: TREAD facilitates the participation of women entrepreneurs in trade fairs, exhibitions, and marketing events. This provides them with opportunities to showcase their products and expand their customer base.
- Technology Upgradation: The scheme encourages women entrepreneurs to adopt modern technologies to enhance productivity and competitiveness.
- Networking and Capacity Building: TREAD facilitates networking among women entrepreneurs and provides platforms for them to share knowledge and experiences. It also offers capacity-building programs to enhance their business acumen.
- Financial Assistance for Product Development: TREAD supports women entrepreneurs in developing new products or improving existing ones by providing financial assistance for research and development activities.
Implementation and Coverage:
TREAD is implemented through a network of institutions, including State Industrial Development Corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and industry associations. These implementing agencies play a crucial role in identifying eligible women entrepreneurs and disbursing financial support.
To be eligible for assistance under TREAD, women entrepreneurs must meet certain criteria, including:
- Being an Indian citizen.
- Having a significant ownership stake in the business.
- Operating in sectors specified by the scheme.
Impact and Success Stories:
Since its inception, the TREAD scheme has had a positive impact on women entrepreneurs across India. It has facilitated the establishment and growth of numerous businesses, creating employment opportunities and contributing to economic development.
Challenges and Future Prospects:
While TREAD has been successful in empowering women entrepreneurs, there are challenges such as reaching women in remote areas, ensuring sustained business growth, and scaling up the program. The scheme’s future prospects lie in further expanding its reach, leveraging technology for greater outreach, and addressing the evolving needs of women entrepreneurs.