A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Hop on the train journey on 5th June 2020 & catapult your dream of self-employment.



Under the current circumstances, the running schedule of Swavalamban Express has been postponed to 5th June 2020 (when it starts from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh). The train shall be covering 7000+ km traversing 11 stations and shall come to a halt at Varanasi on 20th June 2020.
We have received over 3500 applications from different parts of India to come onboard the Swavalamban Express. Upon popular request,  the application deadline has been extended to 31st March 2020.  

Our nation is filled with tremendous energy of the youth. Whatever future we desire of, we must keep the youth at the centre. If we do this, we can surge ahead at an unmatchable pace!
Hon. Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi

Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), the principal financial institution engaged in the promotion, financing and development of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on the occasion of its 30th foundation year, is launching Swavalamban Express – a train journey to empower small business aspirants under its Mission Swavalamban.

 'Swavalamban Express' is modelled as a unique Self-Employment Paathshala, where people come with their dreams and walk out as Swavalambis, empowered to start their own enterprises and take control of their own destinies. The train journey would last for 15 days (starting 5th June 2020), and would cover over 7,000 kms (with stopover at 11 cities) with 500 young and aspiring Swavalambis (or small-business aspirants) aboard and over 150 mentors and subject-matter experts, some traveling together and others present at each station/city to meet and share their experiences and add value. 

Throughout the journey as the train would be en-route from one station to another, the Swavalambis would be taken through a meticulously planned, rigorous and methodological curriculum covering different aspects of building a business. In addition to that, special emphasis would be given on access to finance particularly under several governmental schemes to promote self-employment as well as responsible business which would cover aspects of compliance, and the concept of people, planet and profit, making sure that the aspirant understands the importance of triple bottom line for long term sustainability of not just the business, but the society and planet as well, thereby aligning with the UN SDGs 8, 9 and 12.


A brainchild of Sh. Mohammad Mustafa, Chairman and Managing Director of SIDBI, the vision of Swavalamban Express is to build a connected small enterprise ecosystem which transcends beyond the metros, and enables people at the 'last-mile' to get connected, empowered, and plugged into the growth story of India and be a part of the shared vision (set out by the Hon. Prime Minister) of becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2024-25.




Handpicked from different parts of India on the basis of their application, zeal to start-up and potential to succeed.


Subject-matter experts and guides from banking, finance, business, and several other verticals to handhold aspirants during their journey


At each of the 11 stations, the boarders shall get to meet and experience the journeys and learning of some of the most eminent and knowledgeable leaders from the city.


Applications are open till 31st March 2020 only. After this, the selection process of participants and mentors shall begin.


What will happen throughout the journey?

Throughout the journey, custom designed modules/training workshops aimed towards helping budding and aspiring small business aspirants shall be conducted by resource persons and mentors, experts, institutions and role model enterprises. Participants shall be exposed to various opportunities, market potentials, knowledge, connect and cross-cultural learning. On completion of the journey, we hope that the participating aspirants would have a ready business plan for their dream venture. 50 selected business plans shall be rewarded with train fee reimbursement and shall be provided the credit connect.

What will I (an enterprise aspirant) get out of this journey?

  1. Existing businessperson - Shall have chance to revisit their business strategy, secure scale-up capital and gather ideas to scale up their business. 
  2. Enterprise Aspirant - Right from choosing the perfect enterprise idea to weighing options, from brainstorming and shaping their venture plans to getting guidance from the experts, an enterprise seeker can learn a lot through the journey. Once participants get down from train, they shall have a ready business plan, a mentor to support them and an opportunity to secure loans for their venture (50 selected participants only).

What will a mentor get out of this journey?

Besides giving back to and catalyzing the young minds in a very rigorous and structured manner, a mentor shall also get to spend 15 days full of learning, diverse perspectives, new ideas, all while sharing their experiences with the young aspirants.

Who can apply for the Journey? Is there an eligibility-criteria?

Aspirants: There is no education bar on selection of candidate. However, the participant should be between 20 and 35 years of age at the time of application. We are looking for participants who want to start their own enterprises and have potential to contribute in the economic and social prosperity of the country. Those who are running their small businesses for less than a year may also apply.

Mentors: A Mentor will be a expert of his field who will be a guide/teacher /role model for the participant. A mentor shall share with participants the information about his or her own career path, as well as provide guidance, motivation, emotional support, and role modeling. The role of the mentor throughout the journey would be to guide the participants in their respective areas of strengths and ensure their journeys towards Swavalamban are progressing with great acceleration. 

How many role models will I meet? And who are these role models?

At each of the 11 stops, we will provide necessary exposure through interaction with domain experts, role-models, accomplished businesspersons.

What are the fees for on-boarding the Express?

Only selected participants shall onboard the Swavalamban Express. The actual cost of the entire program per candidate amounts to INR 1,00,000. However, every participant is only expected to pay only INR 6,500 to cover a very small part of the costs. In addition, INR 10,000 as a commitment fee shall be payable by the selected participants (in the form of a demand draft). The same shall be refunded if the following three conditions are met: (i) Participation in the program from 4th June 2020 (starting from Lucknow) till 20th June 2020, (ii) Attending all sessions as part of the program including completing the Swavalamban Workbook, (iii) Developing your business plan and getting it validated by mentor/banker. Each participant will be required to pay the amount after their selection for being a part of the journey. 

Where do we get the stay and what are the food arrangements for 16 days?

Stay and food arrangements shall be provided on train. The organizing team, volunteers and the support staff – all shall live in the train for complete 16 days. The organizing team shall assign compartments to the participants and mentors before they board the train. Vegetarian food and bottled water shall be provided to all passengers. Outside food shall not be allowed on the train due to the risk of food poisoning.

What is the selection process?

Out of the registrations received through the online application, an independent committee will screen the applicants (participants and mentors) on the basis of the information submitted. The selected candidates shall be required to fill detailed questionnaire to gauge the zeal/idea/passion to become a business owner. Telephonic interviews may be conducted, if required.

What are the dates of journey and which are the cities to be covered?

The journey shall begin from Lucknow on June 04, 2020 with a day-long session starting at 0900 hours. The train will depart the next day i.e. June 05, 2020 from Lucknow and the journey shall come to a close in Varanasi on June 20, 2020. Cities which shall be covered through the journey are: Lucknow, Jammu Tawi, Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Howrah (Kolkata), Patna, Varanasi. All participants must join the day-long session in Lucknow on June 04, 2020, participate in the entire 16-day long program. Any emergency de-boarding will be allowed after the due approval from SIDBI.

What will be the medical and security measures during journey?

There will be qualified doctors available throughout the Journey. A sick bay will be set up on the train to take care of the participants/mentors who fall sick. Further, 2 security guards will be there in each bogie to cover security measures. After in principle approval/selection, you must inform the organizers if you take any medication or have a pre-existing medical condition, prior to the start of the journey.

Can I smoke/chew tobacco/drink alcohol during Journey?

No. Smoking and Drinking are not allowed in the train at all. Strict action shall be taken against those who do

Do I need to keep my college informed about my participation in Journey?

Students are required to keep their parents/colleges apprised about the journey and obey the rules and regulations to maintain discipline during the journey.

What happens on the train while we are travelling between destinations?

This is the time when the greatest interaction and learning takes place. Constructive conversations and debates happen over a cup of tea or in the AC chair car sessions. Various teams/groups into which participants are divided come together and work on assigned projects. This is also the time to socialize/network and get to know each other and have fun while on the journey. Music and Art is always welcomed on the train, so be as creative as you can! Further, we will also try to arrange for lectures/knowledge sharing in the train.

Where to contact in case of any query?

Please write a mail to [email protected](and cc [email protected]) or call  011-23448405/ 011-23448410.

Calling aspiring BUSINESS-PERSONS (Swavalambis) and mentors to be part of Swavalamban Express, a life-changing journey

Learn from changemakers, interact with role models, create business plan, pitch to marquee investors, catapult your enterprise ideas and above all, make lifelong friends