Are Startups Exclusive to Just Urbanites?
Recently, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed that an entrepreneurship council has been set up by the Delhi government to look at ways in which startups can be promoted in Delhi, making it a preferred destination as compared to its neighbors Noida and Gurgaon. They are thus investigating ways in which Delhi can introduce startup friendly policies and infrastructure rules.
While it is commendable that startups are being given the importance and priority they deserve, we need to look at the other side of the coin as well.
It is undeniable that the startup ecosystem has thus far only bloomed in the Tier 1 cities and little attention has been given to Tier 2 and 3 cities. Some may say this is only natural as Tier 1 cities inarguably have the ideal preconditions.
However, India is already a prosperous hub for startups and the third biggest in the world. It is high time now to shift the focus from merely urban startups to rural startups as well. Relative to the policies, facilities and infrastructure provided for startups in the urban cities, little has been implemented in the rural cities of the nation.
According to the World Bank, as of 2014, the rural population of India made up 67.63% of the total population. However, according to NASSCOM’s report of the Indian Startup Ecosystem, 65% of all startups are based in Bangalore, NCR and Mumbai.
When more than half of the nation’s population resides in the rural areas, it is only logical to provide equal if not more opportunities to that segment.
From acquiring bank loans to renting a decent premises, our rural counterparts struggle to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. There is a disturbing gap in the startup development and ecosystem between the urban and rural areas. This needs to be addressed urgently.
In the midst of all the economic development we have been witnessing, we often forget that most of it is confided to our urbanite boundaries. India is more than just Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore or Hyderabad. The nation’s development is and will be hampered until and unless we make every corner inclusive in this progress.
Alongside, the notion that agriculture is the only realm of rural India needs to be altered.
Husk Power Systems is a venture that uses husk from the farm produce to run mini power stations to generate electricity and distribute it.
Project Locus works towards providing sustainable pre-schools in the rural areas.
Rural Odyssey is a social enterprise that promotes tourism in rural India, supporting the local arts and crafts.
These are just few examples of ventures that have propelled into the rural industry with diverging ideas.
The government should look beyond and above Startup India. Policies should be targeted towards setting up more local banks with an affordable rate of interest, providing subsidies for renting business premises and decreasing transportation costs. A good start would be setting up a committee for the sole purpose of facilitating rural startups.
We need to provide them with that spark to ignite their entrepreneurial flame. Tier 1 cities can be the driving force in allowing the others to rise above and contribute to the nation’s growth as a whole.