Emerging Start-up ecosystem in Northeast

Improved access to technology and markets has helped the development of the Start-up ecosystem in the Northeastern States.
Emerging Start-up ecosystem in Northeast

Improved access to technology and markets has helped the development of the Start-up ecosystem in the Northeastern States. The pace of implementation of key infrastructure and connectivity projects is crucial for the sustainability of these Startups in the region. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) has so far recognized 634 Startups in the region, but the devil is in the details. Of these, Assam accounts for 499 Startups (79%) and the rest about 21% are spread over in other seven states- 68 in Manipur, 17 in Meghalaya, 47 in Tripura, 21 in Nagaland and only 6 in Mizoram and 8 in Sikkim. According to DPI, an entity is considered as a Start-up up to ten years from the date of incorporation/ registration, if it is incorporated as a private limited company (as defined in the Companies Act, 2013) or registered as a partnership firm (registered under section 59 of the Partnership Act, 1932) or a limited liability partnership (under the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008) in India and turnover of the entity for any of the financial years since incorporation/registration has not exceeded one hundred crore rupees and thirdly the entity is working towards innovation, development or improvement of products or processes or services, or if it is a scalable business model with a high potential of employment generation or wealth creation. The North East Development Finance Corporation Limited has so far released Rs 41.14 crore to 22 Startups through North East Venture Fund (NEVF) while 36 proposals have received an in-principle commitment of Rs 74.76 crore. The "Start-Up Investment Fest 2022" under the aegis of NEVF is expected to shore up investment proposals from more Startups in the region. While the ecosystem helps translate the ideas into a viable entrepreneurial venture, it is the innovative ideas that hold the key to success. While digital technology is an enabler for budding entrepreneurs, its application in the form of the development of Apps has opened floodgates of opportunities to experiment with new Start-up ideas. Digital marketing to boost demand and sale, improving communication from Business to Business, Business to Consumers, Consumer to Business and digital streaming of music have inspired young entrepreneurs to innovate new entrepreneurial ventures, some of which have clicked instantly for an organic approach to emerging markets. They have demonstrated their abilities to identify the niche markets for innovative products, Braille-friendly tea products by one of the Startups in Assam has stood out in the entire country being the first of its kind by making the tea packets cater to the needs of visually challenged people. Drone usage in survey work by Startups in the state has revolutionized the preparation of Detailed Project Reports for mega infrastructure and connectivity projects, city, and town planning. The use of a drone initially limited to taking aerial shots for film-making or public and private events, for preparation of digital maps of all villages in Assam has brought about a sea change in development governance and revenue administration. Assam Cabinet's decision to do away with the requirement of trade license and building permissions for business operation in Gaon panchayat areas except for private schools, liquor shops, hospitals, brick kilns and polluting industries is expected not just to boost up a current business of Start-up but also inspire many more innovative ideas to take shape and stir a Start-up revolution in rural Assam. Improving internet access will be crucial for sustaining such rural entrepreneurial ventures as digital marketing helps their market reach with minimum investment. Assam and other northeastern states being the organic hub of the country and the Central government focusing on encouraging organic farming in the region, capacity building of the incubated Startups in agriculture and horticultural sectors will go a long way unlocking the huge untapped potential. The Central government pushing the connectivity projects in the region has triggered new hopes for the Startups to tap larger markets in the rest of the country and, also beyond the international borders. Expediting projects for boosting air, railway, road, water connectivity within the region, as well as the connectivity projects aimed at boosting trade and commerce with ASEAN nations and neighbouring countries-Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal will broaden the horizons of the young entrepreneurs to explore export markets. Hand holding support by the state industries and commerce departments can facilitate the Startups to avail incentives available under the North East Industrial Scheme. The fact that more than 200 Startups of about a total of 500 Startups in Assam are women-led presents an encouraging picture of young women seizing the opportunity brought about by the Start-up movement in the country to demonstrate their entrepreneurial skill and make an equal contribution to the economic development of the state and the country. The real challenge for all Startups is to sustain their entrepreneurial ideas, and that is where the governments can play the role of facilitators.

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