World Bank approves $100 million INSPIRES loan to Sikkim for empowering women & youth for economic growth

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In a move to accelerate Sikkim’s economic rise, the World Bank has approved a $100 million loan aimed at empowering women and youth for employment opportunities and skill development.

This package, named the “Sikkim: Integrated Service Provision and Innovation for Reviving Economies (INSPIRES) Operation,” marks a significant step towards realizing Sikkim’s vast potential.

At the heart of INSPIRES lies a plan to upskill 300,500 women and youth through targeted programs. This initiative will focus on equipping them with the skills needed to thrive in high-growth sectors like renewable energy, IT services, tourism, hospitality, wellness care, and creative design.

Sikkim, known for its rapid growth, currently sees 40 percent of its youth engaged in agriculture, while manufacturing and services industries are on the rise. The state aims to diversify its workforce by shifting focus from agriculture. The state’s vision is to break away from traditional agriculture and cultivate opportunities in non-farm sectors, aligning with its goal of economic diversification and sustainable growth.

Furthermore, the loan will establish an Employment and Entrepreneurship Promotion Facility. This vital platform will serve as a catalyst for collaboration between the private sector, central agencies, and business associations, creating a conducive ecosystem for entrepreneurship and job creation.

Auguste Tano Kouame, the World Bank’s Country Director for India, highlighted the project’s exclusive focus on jobs and its commitment to removing barriers for women and youth in Sikkim to participate in the state’s growth story. The initiative will provide comprehensive support, including career counseling, migration services, and mental health management to facilitate smoother job transitions.

Recognizing the aspirations of Sikkim’s youth, who express interest in sectors like renewable energy and IT, INSPIRES will provide support for building a robust business development. This includes organizing bootcamps, implementing a workplace safety management system, and providing transport allowances.

INSPIRES will also provide support for building a robust innovation ecosystem in Sikkim by encouraging technological advancements, promoting knowledge sharing, and fostering a culture of experimentation within the state.

The $100 million loan, facilitated by the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), will utilize the blended financing instrument of Program-for-Results (PforR) with Investment Project Financing (IPF). This approach links disbursement of funds directly to the achievement of results while providing technical assistance. The loan has a maturity of 14 years, including a grace period of five and a half years.

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