LIC, EPFO keen to set up fund for startups: DPIIT Official

DPIIT additional secretary Anil Agrawal said it was decided that a portal will be developed by the SIDBI for funding purposes of startups.
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Life Insurance Corporation of India and Employees' Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) have expressed their willingness to set up funds for startups to help budding entrepreneurs, a senior official said.

Additional Secretary in the Department for Promotion for Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Anil Agrawal said it was decided that a portal will be developed by the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for startup funding purposes.

These issues came up in the meeting of the National Startup Advisory Council. Agrawal said several initiatives are underway to strengthen the startup ecosystem in the country.

About 16 programmes have been identified for the sector, and it was shared with all the members of the council, he said.

Agrawal also said that Manoj Kohli from SoftBank wants to make a national mentorship programme.

"Today, chairman LIC was there (in the meeting). He committed to set up a fund for startups," he said, adding EPFO, too, has expressed the willingness for setting up a similar investment fund for startups.

Further, he said high net-worth individuals would be onboarded to become angel investors as India has only 6,000 angel investors, while the US has three lakhs.

"We are also looking at how to make the Startup Champions programme more effective in its second version so that the story reaches villages as well," the official said.

"So, these are the initiatives. It has never happened in the country," he added.

Meanwhile, an official statement said Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal chaired the meeting of the council.

The minister said the implementation of ideas of financing, mentorship, and taxation will enable in strengthening the startup ecosystem further.

"Our startup ecosystem has the potential and promise to make India the innovation and invention hub of the world, and National Startup Advisory Council has been working tirelessly to pave the way forward for budding startup entrepreneurs," the minister said.

The council, he said, will nurture startups to aim for higher competitiveness and make India the startup capital. Goyal added that he wanted to see new startups emerge across India, especially in Tier-II and III cities.

He asked the DPIIT to act as a facilitator with open doors, open arms and an open mind.

"Government is committed to cut red tape, improve ease of doing business, provide financial assistance through startup seed fund, supporting incubators, enhancing skills, and this holistic approach has intended to resolve the issues relating to capital mobilisation, support innovation with tinkering labs, and meet the capacity and capability requirements of startups," the minister said.

The meeting was attended by top stakeholders, officials and existing startups in the country, including MR Kumar (Chairman, LIC), RS Sharma (CEO, National Health Authority), Rajan Anandan (Managing Director, Sequoia Capital), Ritesh Agarwal (Founder, OYO Rooms), and Manoj Kohli (Country Head, Softbank India).

Besides, Abhiraj Bhal (Co-founder, UrbanCompany), Kunal Bahl (Co-founder, Snapdeal), Sanjeev Bhikchandani (Co-founder, InfoEdge), Mohandas Pai (Co-founder and Chairman, Aarin Capital), Prashant Prakash (Partner, Accel Partners), Anjali Bansal (Founder, Avaana Capital), Sharad Sharma (Founder, iSpirt), and Debjani Ghosh (President, Nasscom) also attended the meeting.

Edited by Suman Singh

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