News Release

Cisco Collaborates with SIDBI and TREC-STEP to Launch ICT Entrepreneurship Programme in India

Introduces pilot in Tamil Nadu to provide loans and support to ICT businesses
Nov 20, 2008

CHENNAI, India - November 20, 2008 - Cisco® today announced that it is collaborating with Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) and Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College- Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park (TREC-STEP) to promote information and communications technology ICT entrepreneurship and innovation in the country. The ICT entrepreneurship development programme will provide financing, loan subsidies, mentorship and training to qualified entrepreneurs and small businesses in India.

As part of the pilot programme, SIDBI will finance small ICT businesses in India which will be run by current and/or former Cisco Networking Academy® students. Under the programme, SIDBI will provide loans to entrepreneurs, Cisco will subsidize the interest repayment and guarantee fees on the loans and TREC-STEP will provide customized training and mentoring to participants in the pilot.

Developed as part of the USD 1 million commitment made by Cisco in 2006 to promote microfinance and ICT entrepreneurship across the world, the new entrepreneurship pilot program will initially involve ten ICT businesses in Tamil Nadu. The entrepreneurs will be provided loan assistance by SIDBI on flexible terms in order to increase the entrepreneurs' chances of success.

Commenting on the programme, Vice President and General Manager of the Cisco Networking Academy, Ms. Amy Christen said, "Cisco believes that ICT plays a vital role in the development of any society and it is imperative that small technology businesses benefit from access to capital. We are delighted to collaborate with SIDBI and TREC-STEP to develop a scalable model aimed at creating technology-related businesses that promote economic development in India. This programme will encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs who will build innovative technology solutions and create the business models of the future."

"With job opportunities only available to approximately one-third of India's youth, entrepreneurship development is a critical part of the country's future. This partnership aims to nurture innovative thinking in small enterprises engaged in the ICT sector and support them with the financial resources to transform those ideas. Together with Cisco, we believe that this programme will foster an entrepreneurial environment that helps small businesses contribute to India's overall economic development," said Deputy Managing Director, SIDBI, Mr. Rakesh Rewari.

Expressing his confidence in the programme, Executive Director of TREC-STEP, Mr. R.M.P. Jawahar said, "In order to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship, it is crucial that the right framework and support be provided to the aspiring technology entrepreneurs. Cisco, with its rich experience in the global ICT domain, can provide expertise and support to build a sustainable model. The financial support from SIDBI will go a long way in reducing the initial investment commitments of the entrepreneurs."

Cisco Networking Academy is an innovative education initiative that has delivered marketable information and communication technology skills to more than 700,000 students in more than 160 countries last year. In India, there are over 150 Cisco Networking Academies across 22 states and union territories. The Networking Academy program trains students from high school to graduate level in basic as well as advanced IT skills. The Academy takes advantage of the two great equalizers in today's world-education and the Internet-to teach IT skills to students from virtually every socioeconomic background and region

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Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), set up in 1990 under an Act of Indian Parliament, is Principal Financial Institution for the Promotion, Financing and Development of the MSME sector and Co-ordination of the functions of the institutions engaged in similar activities. SIDBI provides refinance support to eligible Primary Lending Institutions like banks, SFCs, etc. for onward lending to MSMEs. Direct assistance to MSMEs is channelised through SIDBI's 75 branch offices. SIDBI also extends financial assistance in the form of loans, grants, equity and quasi equity to NGOs / Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) for on-lending to micro enterprises and economically weaker sections of society, enabling them to take up income generating activities on a sustainable basis. In order to help MSEs in accessing institutional credit, both term loan and working capital, without facing the difficulty of arranging collateral security and / or third-party guarantee, Government of India and SIDBI has set up the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Industries (CGTMSE). SIDBI, along with Dun & Bradstreet Information Services and 11 banks, has set up SME Rating Agency of India Ltd (SMERA) for providing an independent, third-party credit rating support to MSMEs. SIDBI has recently been mandated by Government of India with a risk capital fund of Rs. 2000 crore for providing risk capital assistance to MSMEs. SIDBI's bonds and FDs are rated 'AAA' by CARE .


Tiruchirappalli Regional Engineering College- Science and Technology Entrepreneurs Park (TREC - STEP) is the first science and technology Entrepreneurs Park in the country. It engages in promoting a new genre of entrepreneurs and many new initiatives for ushering in technology based growth. It focuses on promotion of knowledge based industries, development and transfer of technologies, training in technology and business skills and new developmental project initiatives.