Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A New Business Class:Gurpreet Singh (Dalit ) who turned first Generation Entrepreneurs

Gurpreet Singh, 30 (Chandigarh)

Project: Manufacturing facility for fly-ash bricks, blocks and pavers VC funding: Rs 8.5 crore 

From a mini solar plant to an e-commerce site for second-hand vouchers, Gurpreet Singh ( Dalit ) has turned into first-generation entrepreneurs, backed by a government VC fund.

When Gurpreet Singh was about seven years old, he would wonder why he could not visit one of the two gurdwaras in Bhajauli, his father’s village in Punjab. “I would ask my grandfather why he would not take us to that gurdwara. He never explained, but I now know that as Dalit Sikhs, we were denied entry into that one,” says Singh, 30, CEO of MGM Infra Development Solutions Pvt Ltd.

Son of an engineer in a government department at Bhaddal, Punjab, Singh went on to do a BTech in computer engineering from the Institute of Engineering & Technology, Bhaddal, in 2008, after which he worked for Dell in Mohali for a year. He later joined a private infrastructure company and was involved in building the “first air conditioned bus stand in Mohali”. But he “always wanted to strike out on his own”.

Another job later, he knew what he had to do. “While speaking to friends in Bengaluru, I learnt that the Metro construction there uses hollow blocks made of fly ash. In Punjab, we generally use kiln-made bricks, not fly ash. So, in 2013, I decided to set up a manufacturing facility for fly ash and concrete-based building material,” he says.

His father sold the family property to give him Rs 4 crore for the initial capital to set up the company. But Singh needed Rs 18.2 crore in all. Once again, he would encounter “caste discrimination, though not so overt”. At least three banks, he says, rejected his loan application.

Finally, last October, the Bank of Maharashtra lent his company a loan of Rs 4.7 crore.
Under the VC fund, he has been sanctioned Rs 8.5 crore. Having secured most of the investment, Singh is looking ahead. “I want to involve the best brains in construction technology, so we have tied up with German company Hess,” he says.
Singh feels there is still a need for “more positive discrimination”. “Reservations are filled to satisfy government norms, but most decision-making is not with SCs”.

Link : http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/a-new-business-class-dalits-who-turned-first-generation-entrepreneurs/

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