The Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College — Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park in Tiruchirappalli, India, joined forces in November 2008 with global networking giant Cisco and the Small Industries Development Bank of India. Their goal is to promote information and communications technology entrepreneurship and innovation for small- and medium-sized start-ups in the Tamil Nadu state in southeastern India through a cooperative pilot program.
Developed as part of a $1 million commitment Cisco made in 2006 to promote microfinance and ICT entrepreneurship, the pilot program includes financing, loan subsidies, mentorship and training to qualified small businesses and entrepreneurs.
TREC-STEP's role is to provide mentoring and customized training in technology and business skills. SIDBI will provide financing to small ICT businesses operated by current and former students of the Cisco Networking Academy, a worldwide public-private partnership among Cisco Systems, education, business, government and community organizations. Cisco will guarantee fees on loans and subsidize interest repayments.
Initially, the project will involve 10 ICT businesses and, if successful, will be duplicated in other developing areas where Cisco operates.
The Cisco Networking Academy reaches a diverse population in more than 160 countries, with over 150 academies in India and 48 in Tamil Nadu. The program trains high school through graduate-level students in basic and advanced IT skills.
"In order to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship, it is crucial that the right framework and support be provided to aspiring technology entrepreneurs," says TREC-STEP Executive Director R.M.P. Jawahar. "Cisco, with its rich experience in the global ICT domain, can provide expertise and support to build a sustainable model."