Introduces pilot in Tamil Nadu to provide loans and support to ICT businesses

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Chennai, Nov 21 (ANI/Business Wire India): Cisco(r) 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 former Cisco Networking Academy(r) 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, 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, Rakesh Rewari.

Expressing his confidence in the programme, Executive Director of TREC-STEP, 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. are central to the company's solution strategy. As a result of the expansion, SmartStream is also looking to hire experienced software developers, particularly those with knowledge of middle and back office banking operations.

Commenting on the new Development Centre, Ritesh Jhingan, Head of Development at SmartStream Technologies India, said: "SmartStream has been successfully developing and building a range of TLM solutions in India to such a degree that we now require a significantly larger Development Centre. This enables us to expand our headcount and efficiently scale the operations to meet demand for the company's TLM software. The increased capacity also supports our rapid development of new solutions to meet emerging customer, market and regulatory needs."

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