Estonia is offering options where Indian entrepreneurs can set up businesses and can access the European Union (EU) market worth millions of euros.Rashi Varshney
A total of 307 startups from India are registered in Estonia through its one of its kind e-Residency programme, which allows foreign entrepreneurs to set up their startups in the country. These startups are working on sectors such as web designing, IT, software programming, content writing, handicrafts, leather, etc.
Under the programme, entrepreneurs receive an Estonian government-issued digital ID, can register an EU company, and gain access to business banking and payments services and tools to digitally sign documents. Addressing the media, Riho Kruuv, Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia, told that startups don't even need to visit Estonia once, and that they can complete the full virtual setup in just 80 minutes, and can start reaping the benefits.
Estonia has launched e-Residency in December 2014, which enables anyone in the world to apply for an Estonian digital ID card and avail of its e-services. Riho Kruuv said that an e-resident can avail various e-services in Estonia, including finance, banking, etc.
The e-residency under this programme allows entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and freelancers from anywhere in the world to operate their Estonian companies from anywhere in the world using Estonia’s digital infrastructure.
In 2018, around 1,062 individuals from India applied for the e-Residency programme while 207 individuals applied for astarting a company. Estonia has a total of 2,300 e-residents from India, including business tycoon Mukesh Ambani, and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Moreover, Reliance Industries has set-up a research centre for Jio in Estonia. It is headed by Taavi Kotka, former Chief Information Officer of Estonia and one of the founders of e-Residency programme.
Riho Kruuv said India ranks 8th, whereas China which is at the 18th in terms of number of startups with an e-residency among 167 countries. In terms of overall e-residency, India stands at 9th position, just after China at 8th rank.
Estonia is keen to tap into India’s rich talent pool in technology and startups, and expecting even more in 2019. In a statement, Riho Kruuv said that e-Residency programme has already made a mark among Indian entrepreneurs and Indian e-residents are fully equipped to make their businesses prosper with easy access to the European market, which has 500 million people. The country is looking to attract around 300 new companies from India in 2019.
Republic of Estonia has also partnered with Startups Club, which provides support to Indian e-residents. It also creates awareness about e-Residency through workshops and meet-ups in cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. They are also helping Indian digital entrepreneurs better understand the benefits of the programme and guide them through the process of creating a company in Estonia.
Commenting on this Salma Moosa, Founder and Managing Director, Startups Club said, “Europe, globally, is an important market for several startups. The cost of entry into Europe has been traditionally very high dissuading most startups from attempting to enter it and look for potential customers there. We are seeing a huge interest especially among IT specialists and developers but also Blockchain, SaaS, Fintech and other digitally driven startups/businesses to adopt this programme.”
Through its e-Residency programme, Estonia endeavors to provide these budding entrepreneurs with a seamless and hassle free environment which will allow their businesses to grow and prosper internationally.