In literal terms, Hand-Holding refers to help and advice given to someone when they are doing something for the first time. In the Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI), Technical Agency provides hand-holding support to both Implementing Agency and Technical Agency. 

For a better understanding of how a Technical Agency provides hand-holding support, let us understand in brief about the mechanism of the scheme. The Ministry has divided the mechanism under three agencies.

  • Nodal Agencies: Organisations can apply for the scheme through a Nodal Agency. Currently, the Ministry has appointed 30 Nodal agencies and their details are provided in the revised SFURTI guidelines.
  • Technical Agencies: Nodal agency appoints technical agency and one technical agency can work with various Nodal agencies. In some cases, even Implementing Agency has the option of appointing a Technical Agency. Established national-level institutions, with proven expertise in artisanal and small enterprise cluster development, are made Technical Agencies (TAs) so that they can provide close handholding and implementation support to the SFURTI clusters and to the TA and NA as well. 
  • Implementing Agency: This is the organisation that works on the grass-root level for proceeding with the scheme. It can be an NGO, trust, corporation, State-Central government bodies, PRI, etc. Implementing agency and beneficiaries then establish an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) that further helps in keeping a track with the scheme.

Why Hand-Holding is Important?

Issue Resolution – This is the main reason that TAs are in the picture. Whenever any problem occurs, TA comes to the rescue and provides the solution to all the problems according to the guidelines.

Expertise – Most of the Technical agencies are considered as the expert of the scheme. The reason being, they have worked according to the scheme guidelines all day every day. This expertise provides IA, NA and clusters with more insightful tidbits of knowledge and quicker resolution times.

Documentation – Technical Agency helps in scrutinizing and preparing the documents like Detailed Project Report, Diagnostic Study Report, Machine Tender, Etc. 

Knowledge (for training) – Since Technical Agency is considered as experts hence they conduct training of the Cluster Development Executives (CDEs) and other officials of the IAs and NAs.

Assistance – TAs provide close assistance to both NA & IA when the whole scheme is being implemented and provide them with solutions if any issue occurs. 

Collaboration – TA helps clusters in collaborating and making synergy with other clusters. They also help in providing marketing linkages for making the cluster sustainable. 

So, in brief, responsibilities of the TA includes preparation of documents such as Detailed Project Report (DPR) and Diagnostic Study Report (DSR), validation of Cluster Action Plans, conducting training of the Cluster Development Executives (CDEs) and other officials of the IAs and NAs, regular monitoring of the cluster on monthly/ quarterly basis and submitting the report on a quarterly basis to the respective field office of Nodal Agencies.

Role of the Technical Agency as per the SFURTI Guidelines:

This section comprises of the detailed roles & Responsibilities of the Technical Agency as per the revised SFURTI guidelines. 

i. Sensitization and awareness generation in the clusters about the scheme; 

ii. Identification of potential IAs; 

iii. To identify focus products and product mix for the Cluster for domestic and export markets. That may also include multi-products in the cluster and creating linkages with other available networks of the cluster in the adjoining Primary Cluster within the given budgetary allocation and as per approval of DPR. 

iv. Preparation of comprehensive DPRs for final approval of SSC containing the following details, namely,- a business model for self-sustenance, skill up-gradation of artisans, acquiring of new skills, setting up of physical and financial outcome targets for the project, proposed percentage enhancement of productivity and earnings of the artisans, brand building, product segmentation, promotion and advertising through regular publicity modes and participation in fairs and exhibitions, exploring possible export avenues with clear targets etc. ; 

v. Assisting the identified IA in the establishment and structuring the project-specific SPV; 

vi. Assist the NAs/SSC in examining the proposals for approval; 

vii. assisting the IA in formulating plans, getting approvals, obtaining clearances from statutory institutions, identifying suitable technologies/ equipment for value addition of the products and will assist the IA in setting up of CFCs after identification of land by the IA. TA will assist IAs in the selection of agencies/experts for various services and in developing a suitable operational framework for various interventions and would also assist in periodic monitoring of the progress of the projects and disbursement of funds and finally, the TA would formulate a Sustainability Roadmap for the Cluster detailing the exit strategy for the IA and the plan for business operations of the cluster beyond the project duration; 

viii. TA to put in place a suitable business plan detailing the revenue model based on an appropriate user fee, a mechanism to collect it to enable the SPV to achieve the projected outcomes in terms of productivity, sales, employment, wages enhancement, the overall income of the Cluster as projected in the DPR; 

ix. TA should assist the IA/ SPV in the engagement of a Design House/Designer with appropriate terms of reference and detailed scope of work for extending appropriate input of design, product processing, product development and proper packaging in consultation with NA, IA and other stakeholders; 

x. To assist the IA/ SPV in engagement of Business Development Services (BDS) providers, outsourcing/improving tools and equipment, developing strategies & best practices for credit linkage as far as possible; 

xi. TA would advise IA/CDE for making plans for procurement of raw materials along with various micro and macro-level tools and types of machinery and other processes as identified and mentioned under DPR. TA should assist the IA in establishing a proper, appropriate and transparent system duly examined and vetted by the Cluster Level Committee for distribution of tools/ kits/ charkhas/ implements among artisans; 

xii. TA will draw up a marketing strategy and detailed plan in consultation with NA and IA regarding the following: a) Product development b) Packaging c) Product pricing d) Product positioning and promotion e) Product mix/ diversification f) Dealer/Distributor Network under offline marketing mode g) Tapping e-commerce for online marketing. h) Determining supply chain and logistics i) Ensuring quality of product and standardization j) Tapping the export potential through appropriate interventions 

xiii. Miscellaneous activities that need to be ensured by I.A. shall require close supervision by TA: a) Awareness and exposure visit of artisans. b) Mandatory opening of Bank Account by Artisans under Jan Dhan Yojana. c) Health insurance of all the artisans under the cluster as applicable under KVIC rules (Jana Shree Bima Yojana & Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana wherever applicable). d) Enrolling under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) which will offer a renewable one-year life cover of Rs.2 lakh to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-50 years, covering death due to any reason, for a premium of Rs.330 per annum or as applicable. e) Enrolling under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) which will offer a renewable one-year accidental death cum-disability cover of Rs.2 lakh for partial/permanent disability to all savings bank account holders in the age group of 18-70 years for a premium of Rs.12 per annum per subscriber or as applicable. f) Issue of Aadhaar based Identity card to artisans mentioning the benefits, privileges, rights as well as their specific responsibilities along with necessary undertakings regarding the implementation of the programme. g) The Atal Pension Yojana (APY) will focus on the unorganized sector and provide subscribers with a fixed minimum pension of Rs.1,000, Rs.2,000, Rs.3,000, Rs.4,000 or Rs.5,000 per month, starting at the age of 60 years, depending on the contribution option exercised on entering at an age between 18 and 40 years. Pension and similar other financial benefits as applicable to be provided adhaar linked. h) Periodic training of Artisans. i) Self Help Groups (SHGs) members may also be extended to these general and miscellaneous supports as extended to the artisans under Cluster Programme. 

xiv. TA shall assist IA/SPV in organizing and planning Business Development Strategies, buyer-seller meet and implementation of a thematic intervention focusing on branding, e-marketing, new media marketing, innovation, research and development etc. for the smooth running of Clusters. 

xv. Assisting the SPV in mobilizing additional funds for the project. This would involve preparation of proposals under relevant schemes of the Government apart from tying up loans from the banks. 

xvi. TA shall facilitate linkages between the SPV and various other stakeholders, particularly the Government organizations, buyers and financial institutions. 

xvii. TA will facilitate in the identification of suitable Technical Consultants in designing appropriate technologies for the cluster within the allocation ceiling for the respective type of cluster. 

xviii. TA will plan out in consultation with NA to frame the training requirement of artisans and stakeholders and grouping their requirements as per the need of the clusters. Accordingly, the TA will assist in the identification of training institutions will be done in defining the courses duration, fees and other requirements as per the cluster. 

xix. Assist the NA for seeking and obtaining approval if any from the State Governments/UTs before submission of DPR to the SSC for final approval; 

xx. TA shall create an appropriate system for online reporting of progress reports to the Nodal Agency and the Ministry of MSME on a monthly and quarterly basis. 

xxi. Any other work assigned from time to time by the NA, Ministry of MSME, for timely completion of the project, any changes in nature of the intervention, any sorts of addition/alternation in the implementation programme, etc. that may come at any point of time during the project period should very well be considered by TA for execution without any additional cost. 

xxii. At the end of the Project, TA shall prepare proper documentation covering the entire activities, preparation of case studies and photo/video documentation along with an end-project report articulating the outcomes in terms of productivity and sales. Listing out the outcomes achieved against the targets fixed at the beginning of the project will also be done. 

xxiii. Formulate an exit strategy for the IA and prepare a sustainability roadmap for the Cluster with a business plan for the next five years beyond the project duration.

xxiv. Empanelled TAs are permitted to identify suitable IA. 

xxv. TA shall have to act diligently to ensure compliance to all Rules and Regulations, as required for the proposals at the DPR stage to obtain final approval from the SSC. 

For a better understanding of the whole SFURTI Scheme, you can go ahead and read the revised SFURTI Guidelines here.