Last year, when Bihar announced its Startup Policy as well as a Rs 500 crore fund for startups, it not only took a leap forward but also joined the list of Indian states that have launched a startup policy and a fund for entrepreneurs. Since then, things have been moving in the right direction.
Aligned with the Prime Minister's Make in India campaign, the state is encouraging and boosting entrepreneurs to Make in Bihar and push the mantle for an ‘Enterprising Bihar’. The Bihar Entrepreneurs Association (BEA) too has kept the focus on Enterprising Bihar in its annual flagship event, the Bihar Entrepreneurship Summit (BES), to be held on 21st and 22nd March.
“Youth in the last couple of years have taken the initiative through technology-based startups or non-tech startups in agriculture or food processing and understood the big market they have in the state's 12 crore population. That is almost six times the total population of Australia,” says Abhishek Kumar, Chief Strategic Advisor for Entrepreneurs Association of India (EAI) and the Secretary General of BEA.
Founded in 2011 by young entrepreneurs from Bihar including the alumni of top institutions such as IIM, IIT, CFA and CA, and boasting 13,000 members, the BEA works under the guidance of the Bihar government and in collaboration with the state's Department of Industries. This year, BEA has roped in EAI and 27 national and international partners and institutions to showcase technological products and services.
The aim is also to bring entrepreneurs from different countries to exchange ideas. This will also help entrepreneurs build strong networks and encourage partnerships. Says Abhishek,
“We started the StartUp Yatra which connected BES to all the 38 districts of Bihar. It is like the hub and spoke model with the government, IITs, IIMs, World Bank, ILO, RBI, and many international organisations being part of it. This has also helped build the confidence of the youth in entrepreneurship.”
The Bihar government’s Startup Policy 2016 is a road map on how the entrepreneurial landscape is going to shape in the years to come.
The Bihar Startup Policy has prepared the ground for entrepreneurs to grow. The policy gives access to resources, mentorship, and incubation centres. A Rs 500-crore State StartUp Investment Fund has also been set up. A portion of this – 22 percent of the fund – has been reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Industries that are not more than five years old with a turnover of less than Rs 25 crore are eligible for benefits under this new policy.
The Bihar Startup Policy will also facilitate the creation of common infrastructure for startups such co-working spaces, shared facilities like R&D labs, software and hardware like high-end printers, computers, common testing labs and tool rooms and shared services like legal, accounting, technology, patents, and investment banking.
According to Abhishek, with each passing year, the entrepreneurial landscape is undergoing change. “In 2014, we gathered all stakeholders through BES. In 2015, Bihar's chief minister announced the startup policy. In 2016, the launch of Rs 500 crore fund and the Udyog Samwad Application for ease of doing business found appreciation by the DIPP and MSME.”
This year, the focus is on seeing that the startups get the funds they need. Says Abhishek, “The New Industry Policy and Startup Policy is in place, StartUp Committee meeting is on schedule, a screening of 700 startup applications for the fund has already been done. Out of the 700 applications, 98 have already been shortlisted for the committee to screen and decide upon the funding.”
The key thing that Bihar needs now is exposure to the outside world. And as Abhishek says, “We need networks for our entrepreneurs. Our base is strong, we have managed to reach the districts and create a foundation. Now we just need the topping.”