The government of India launched the ‘Startup India’ initiative earlier this year amid much fanfare. This move and its salient features have been highly debated across numerous platforms over the past couple of months. Overall, the scheme has been much appreciated by all and sundry; especially by businesses.
Let us now look at some of the finer features of this scheme which, if implemented thoroughly, should hold it in good stead in the coming years.
An ecosystem for Startups: With the likes of Startup India Hub, Startup fests, Incubator Challenge, Industry/Academia partnership, along with reproducing the famed success of IIT Madras Research Park as well as getting in private sector talent in incubators, the initiative has taken a good step towards building a robust ecosystem for startups.
Relaxed Norms of Public Procurement: By eradicating the minimum turnover/track-record requirement, the Govt. will exempt Startups (in the manufacturing sector) from the criteria of “prior experience/ turnover”. Importantly, this will be done without any reduction in the standards of quality or the technical parameters.
Self-Certification: This will allow startups to self-certify compliance with 9 labour and environment laws (6 labour and 3 environmental). Furthermore, in case of labor laws, there will no inspections done for a period of 3 years. The aim of this feature is to lessen the burden on startups. This will allow them to focus on their primary business and yet keep the compliance cost low.
The Ease of Doing Business initiatives: The Fast-tracking Patent Examination at lower costs, legal support and fast-tracking the winding up of failed businesses are some really laudable moves and will definitely help the startups with an ease in doing their business in the long run.
Exemption of taxes for Startups for 3 years: Although this move has been highly debated, it still seems to be good news for startups. This fiscal exemption should make it easier for the growth of the startups and should also help them in meeting the working capital requirements in their first few years.
Funding Support through a Fund of Funds: One of the biggest challenges for startups, more often than not, is the starting fund. The government, through The Fund of Funds, will set up a fund with an initial corpus of INR 2,500 crore and a total corpus of INR 10,000 crore over a period 4 years for the startups. This should help many startups struggling with capital to stand on their feet. The Fund of Funds will be overseen by a Board with private professionals.
The phrase ‘Startup’ has now been set in motion: Above all else, with the ‘Startup India’ initiative’s nationwide launch, it has now been ensured that the term ‘Startup’ has been set in motion in the government. This is a real change from the past, where the administrations were greatly unresponsive towards startups. Today, the startups in the country have some hope at least; they have a clear path and definition ahead of them and good backing by the powers that be.
In conclusion: The ‘Startup India’ initiative is undoubtedly a very good move by the central government. This is not to say the initiative is without its flaws; the Credit Guarantee Fund, discrimination against angel investors and no mention of employee stock ownership plan are some features that might not please everyone and may prove negative in the long run. However, it has been received very warmly overall and is being seen as a game changer for startups in India. Several entrepreneurs in the country too have welcomed the initiative and are keenly looking to work with its new policies.
Here is hoping the Startup India scheme works well in the years to come and helps in the expansion and blossoming of small startups, which will ultimately help the country progress greatly.