A special foundation to facilitate the growth of the country's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will start functioning next month.
"The process to establish an SME foundation is rapidly going on. Hopefully it will emerge within the next month," a senior government official informed the FE Sunday.
The proposed foundation, largely represented by the private sector, will provide both advisory and promotional services to the local SMEs, he said.
The SME foundation will phase out the existing SME Cell and SME Advisory Panel, the official added.
The government is establishing the foundation in line with the recommendation made by a powerful National Taskforce on SME, led by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, a couple of years back.
The main objectives of the proposed SME foundation will be to provide policy-related advice to the government and maintain liaison with all agencies working with the SME sector, they said.
The proposed organisation will also look after matters relating to international and regional cooperation, especially with the SMEs.
Officials indicated that the foundation would not only have separate monitoring, technical and financing wings, but also a special wing for promotion of woman entrepreneurship would be created under it.
According to an official, the government had taken various steps to ensure greater participation of female entrepreneurs in the SME sector.
Keeping this view in mind, the government recently organised the National SME Women Entrepreneurs Conference 2006, first of its kind in the country, under the official initiative.
Following the recommendation made by the National Taskforce on SME, the government formed a 13-member advisory panel in early 2005 to facilitate promotion of the SMEs in the country.
Besides, an SME Cell has also been established under the Ministry of Industries to oversee the sector's overall promotional activities. The cell is implementing various programmes like conducting a nationwide survey on SMEs, said officials.
Besides, it has already completed registration of about 90,000 SMEs across the country with a view to carrying out an extensive survey on this sector.
Meanwhile, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provided assistance worth $50.6 million (5.06 crore) for the country's SME sector development.
About $30 million of the total amount had so far been disbursed under the existing refinancing fund for the SME sector through banks, while the remaining amount was provided for implementing various programmes of the SME Cell.