Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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13-12-2002 : Hyderabad

I am indeed delighted to participate in the inaugural function of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute for Women which has been set-up by the Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andhra Pradesh more popularly known by its acronym ALEAP. From what I have seen and learnt about this organisation, I can say with certainty that the organization has helped innumerable women entrepreneurs take not only "A small LEAP" into the world of enterprise but indeed they have enabled many to take "A giant LEAP" in this area.

I have been greatly encouraged to note that the idea of establishing an exclusive industrial estate for women in the State was the brainchild of a woman entrepreneur herself and the credit for this innovation goes to Ms. Rama Devi who founded ALEAP in 1993. What started off as a small effort in the year 1993, has now more than 1500 members with a long list of successful woman entrepreneurs, many of them running units with large turnovers. Not only has ALEAP developed exclusive industrial estates for women in Hyderabad and at Vijayawada, but also led to marketing of their products in Hyderabad. Moreover, they have started innovative micro-credit schemes and also provide training and counselling services through which they help new and budding women entrepreneurs.

The range of products, which are being generated in these industrial estates, is truly wide ranging. Right from jute products and leaf lamination, we have the high-end units dealing with computer hardware and even bio-technology units, which is an indication that the organization is forward looking and keyed to the future as well. The concepts of having an 'Incubator Facility', children's' cr�che and even a hostel for working women show that the facilities have been provided vision by a woman.

The Nation has a vision for the India of 2020 and by that year hope that India can join the ranks of developed countries. For this, we would have to double our present growth rate of Gross Domestic Product and to achieve this, five key areas have been identified in which we need to focus our attention. These areas are: -

(1) Education and Health care

(2) Agriculture and Food Processing

(3) Information and communication technology

(4) Infrastructure development and

(5) Self-sufficiency in areas of critical technologies.

I have a message for all the women entrepreneurs who are gathered here today. In all these five areas, which have been listed for focused attention, the role of women is very clearly interwoven. For example, in areas of health care, education, agriculture and food processing, it is the women who provide a major portion of the services, which go into these sectors. As such, your role in shaping the future destiny of our country is very very important. You must dream and think about how to make our nation join the ranks of the developed nations by 2020. In many of the sectors which I have indicated, I find that ALEAP has already made a good beginning through the development of entrepreneurship in their industrial estates. The food processing cluster being developed by ALEAP at Vijayawada already has 30 Units in production with a total investment of over one crore rupees towards land and development. This emphasis on food processing has a direct linkage to Vision 2020 which has been painted for our country.

Overcoming gender related barriers has been a key activity of ALEAP and with this in view, I was very impressed to see that ALEAP set up the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development (CED) in the year 1997. Catering to needs of women coming from traditional and rural backgrounds it was envisaged as a Centre for providing inputs in the areas of training, research, education and development to women entrepreneurs. This was a weak area but I am happy to see that the CED has provided meaningful inputs and support especially in the areas of creation of new enterprises and capacity building amongst the different stake-holders including NGOs. I am told that the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development has already conducted over 160 training courses so far sponsored by various Ministries and organizations of the State and Central Government. It is not surprising therefore, that the State Govt. of Andhra Pradesh allotted one acre of land to ALEAP to set up an Entrepreneurship Development Institute. Given the track record of ALEAP and the assistance which they have been providing to promote women entrepreneurship in the State of Andhra Pradesh, I am sure the Entrepreneurship Development Institute which we are inaugurating today will help women entrepreneurs surge ahead in their chosen enterprises.

As per the Census of 2001, women account for 48.3% of our total population. Many agencies, both Government and private, are taking initiatives in the areas of training and capacity building, employment and income generation, welfare and gender sensitization with the ultimate objective of empowering women both economically and socially for making them equal partners in development. We had declared the year 2001 as 'Women's Empowerment Year' and efforts were made at various levels in many sectors for mainstreaming gender perspectives into all laws, policies, programmes, regulations and budgeting allocations of the Government. I am sure with the zeal and initiative of the Chief Minister, we will see replication of this effort in other districts of Andhra Pradesh as well. But more important is the spreading of this message to the four corners of the country. For this, I suggest small groups of interested women entrepreneurs and public leaders from other States to have a workshop in the Entrepreneur Development Institute to see for themselves what can be achieved by way of gender empowerment through efforts like the one made by ALEAP and EDI. I am sure this would enlighten women entrepreneurs of other States as well and encourage them to take on efforts like the one which we have seen here. We must also appreciate the support and encouragement provided by the Chief Minister and his Government to this innovative institution and hope that such innovative efforts will keep receiving his support and encouragement in future as well.

May God Bless you.




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