Budget 2021: Reactions from women in the startup ecosystem
Indian women welcome the Union Budget 2021 as it widens the job market for women with adequate safety included, emphasises the country's healthcare needs, and more.
A year into the coronavirus outbreak that spiralled the economy of India and the world into chaos, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her third and most-awaited Budget.
The pandemic has disproportionately impacted women, pushing many out of the workforce. Now expanding the scope of employment for women, the FM announced that women will be allowed to work in all sectors and in night shifts, with adequate safety.
Budget 2021 also saw the announcement that social security benefits will be extended to gig and platform workers, which has a huge proportion of women .
Here’s a look at what women entrepreneurs and stakeholders in the startup ecosystem welcomed in the Budget allocations.
Suchitra Ella, Joint Managing Director, Bharat Biotech:
The new health infra schemes with significant higher outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for Bharat’s mega COVID-19 vaccination drive is a huge fiscal measure to contain the pandemic, reduce disease burden for the population, and the economy.
A record total outlay of Rs 2,23,846 crore for health and wellbeing is also a well-thought announcement in this Budget, with a focus on preventive and curative health. It’s encouraging to note the creation of 9 Bio Safety Lab-III (BSL-3) in this Budget that will boost research and scientific discoveries.
With this landmark Budget, the Government of India has signalled its intention to make health a cornerstone of the future success of our country. The allocation to vaccines signals a shift to preventive health care, a validation of the fact that vaccines are the most cost-effective health care interventions.
By Neha Bagaria, Founder, CEO, JobsForHer:
The government’s emphasis on creating an Aatmanirbhar Bharat is synonymous with ensuring that our women are also Aatmanirbhar, which can only come with their financial independence. It is thus a welcome change that women will be allowed to work in all categories with adequate protection, a move which will open up further job opportunities for women, thus enabling higher financial security.
Additionally, we had highlighted the need to ensure that gig workers, a huge proportion of whom are women, need to be provided with adequate benefits. It is thus heartening to see that social security benefits will now be extended to gig and platform workers for the first time.
Padmaja Ruparel, Founding Partner of IAN Fund:
The Budget 2021 opens up opportunities for startups across health, hygiene, water, clean air, and sanitation. The vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat with a focus on good governance and women empowerment will boost Indian Economy. The Indian startups have a great opportunity to innovate and help to sustain the Indian economy. Non-conventional energy has got a boost with focus on solar and non-renewable sources.
Deepthi Ravula, CEO of WE HUB:
The Budget 2021 touched on many much-needed aspects of the economy to ensure bounce back in sectors such as infrastructure, manufacturing, banking.
The pandemic has altered the nature of women's participation in the economic workforce of India, their work, and ways of working. The opportunity for providing financial and institutional support to women-led businesses, be it home-based, collectives, enterprises, startups was not looked into.
For corporations, institutions, if there would have been provisions for incentivising employers investing in skilling, hiring of more women as part of their workforce, that would have been a huge opportunity for increasing the female participation in the workforce.
Shumita Kakkar, Founder, United We Care:
The government has taken a step in the right direction by focusing on preventive and holistic wellness. We saw how the pandemic outbreak has not only impacted the financial and physical health but also led to stress and mental health issues due to the sudden and drastic changes in lifestyle and a revamp of established norms. There is a need to address this issue and we hoped to see more impetus or announcements around addressing mental health issues.
Technology is going to play a major role in creating the desired support system for the people. In this regard, we anticipate the government to promote platforms like ours and adopt a collaborative approach to incentivise usage of such services by the public. As a startup, the extension of initial tax benefits and capital gain exemption on funding will go a long way in boosting the morale of our company as well as thousands of other startups all over India.
Saroja Yeramilli, Founder and CEO, Melorra:
From a holistic perspective, the Budget has been a good step in the direction of economic recovery after the pandemic. As a jewellery brand, we are happy to see the reduction in import duty on gold as the prices urgently need correction to improve the market performance. This is going to boost demand and make gold jewellery more affordable for buyers.
Apart from this, the government has also focused on reducing paperwork and making compliance easier regarding taxation, and creating a paperless digital framework. This is expected to make things simpler and speedier for startups and digital technology-driven companies. What stands out is her appreciation and encouragement for women-led startups and policies towards making the environment conducive for them. Overall, the various announcements augur well for the startups and steps such as simplification of processes, increasing the duration of tax benefits for startups and relaxation of norms for foreign investments are much needed. We welcome the Budget wholeheartedly!
Romita Ghosh, Founder and CEO, iHeal HealthTech:
The extension of the tax holiday by a year is a welcome step by the government, which will help startups recover at least a portion of the losses caused by the pandemic. While the exemption of the Capital Gains tax by the government is bound to see more investment in the startup sector, it would have been great to see some incentives for investors who promote social enterprises and women-led startups.
Vidhushi Aggarwal, Co-founder, MitraMoney:
We believe that the government's divestment plan coupled with increased expenditure in various sectors hit hard by the COVID-19 and other incentives will surely bring the economy back on track. The markets have reacted positively towards the Budget after being drawn down by selling FIIs. We are bullish on India's long-term growth prospects and believe that investors should continue to stick to their asset allocation strategies focusing on their financial goals.
Prerna Puri, CEO and Founder, Prerna's Handcrafted Ice Cream:
The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged global economies, and India was no exception. With the country still reeling from the ramifications of the pandemic, a lot of our hopes were pinned on the Union Budget 2021. Although, on a larger note, the Budget did address a lot of crucial points, there was very little attention paid to the food and hospitality sector, which was the worst hit. We were expecting the government would be announcing major revival packages for the Food and Beverages sector along with travel and hospitality. However, we were left disappointed on that front. Also, there was no mention of promoting women entrepreneurs, which we were hoping that the government would focus on. We welcome the measures announced for start-ups such as tax holiday for another year and reduction in margin money requirement, but there still remains a long way to go to resurrect all aspects of our economy.
Meena Ganesh, MD & CEO, Portea Medical
We commend the Finance Minister on addressing various concerns of the healthcare industry and the needs of post-pandemic India. The healthcare budget has been increased to Rs 2.3 lakh crore which is a much-needed step, considering the Indian healthcare infrastructure has been reeling under the pandemic impact and the expenditure on healthcare has been grossly inadequate so far.
As a boost to the ongoing battle against COVID-19, the government has made a provision of Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccination in the FY 2022, which is a laudable step. We have seen last year how the integration of private and public sector healthcare operations and collaborative model of healthcare delivery led to rapid scaling of the efforts. We are keenly looking at furthering such collaborations going forward. Another key highlight of the announcements is the intent to shift the focus from a curative to a preventive healthcare ecosystem with a strong focus on development of the diagnostic, research and development sector as well as on boosting the emergency healthcare system.
A large number of new integrated labs, primary health centers, hospitals and other medical facilities have been announced. We hope that various digital technology-driven services such as home healthcare and telemedicine are also given adequate support and focus under the National Digital Health Mission. Overall, the provisions seem to be quite promising and we are ready to support the government in executing the plans related to healthcare transformation across India!
For YourStory's multimedia coverage of Budget 2021, visit YourStory's Budget 2021 page or budget.yourstory.com
Edited by Anju Narayanan