The Export-Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) and the Rural Technology and Business Incubator (RTBI) cell of IIT Madras Research Park have come together to evaluate and support companies during their nascent stage. A memorandum of cooperation was signed on Tuesday to this effect.

According to T.C.A. Ranganathan, Chairman and Managing Director of Exim Bank, companies which the bank seeks to support should be focused on socially-relevant technology to improve rural livelihoods along with having a promising export potential.

Speaking on the occasion, he said the bank, after a detailed study, found out that the import of high-tech goods is a major reason for the ever-increasing current account deficit. Last year, India imported $90-billion worth high-tech goods, which accounts for almost 25 per cent of the country’s total import. To plug this, India needs to encourage and facilitate global majors setting up their technology-based manufacturing units in India and also encourage and support technology innovations by domestic entrepreneurs.

Elaborating on the incubator cell, Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Co-Chairman of RTBI, said the not-for-profit organisation is IIT-M’s incubator, facilitating rural-inclusive technology and business innovation in India. The partners of RTBI include the TeNet Group, INfoDev, IFMR Trust, LIRNEasia, Tata Teleservices Ltd and Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council.

However, on a standalone basis, these projects are unable to get working capital funding from banks given the size and the age of the companies. And now, Exim Bank’s pact with RTBI will open up a new avenue for the companies which need necessary handholding in their initial stages. With RTBI facilitating the due diligence process and monitoring the companies, Exim Bank will support these companies to grow, Jhunjhunwala said.

(This article was published on February 27, 2013)
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