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It is heartening to see women in India participate across a wide spectrum of industries; from Space Research to IT, Banking, Manufacturing, Entertainment and more. With improving social-economic factors like higher education, higher support across family/work environment women are increasingly emerging as Entrepreneurs and Corporate Leaders.

According to NASSCOM, Startups have grown by 125% from $2.2 Bn in 2014 to $4.9 Bn in 2015. Women’s participation has seen a 50% rise since 2014. From Kiran Mazumdar to Richa Kar to Meena Ganesh, women of this country are building good businesses that are geared to serve as engines of growth for the economy.

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I think the conditions are ripe for the government to give Entrepreneurship a bigger push. There are successful role models to emulate, investors (private and government) are supportive like never before and the skills set available to women as workers and leaders has seen growth.

While operationally for Startups, Legal & Infrastructural challenges like unclear, overlapping labor laws, Income Tax Act, increased indirect taxes exist; for women workers Safety is a large unmet need and perhaps the only impediment to full participation of this sizeable demographic segment.

We are happy to see that the Government has taken systematic steps to enable financing and skill development of women owned businesses as it has for Startups overall as well. Dedicated schemes like Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD) will enable trade related training, information and counseling. Financial assistance with loans through NGOs for capacity building and for undertaking self-employment sustainable ventures by women in non-farm activities will help. The government recently gave its approval for India’s first integrated National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015. The Policy acknowledges the need for an effective roadmap for promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to a successful skills strategy.

I would like to propose a few more ways in which the government can contribute to promote Entrepreneurship at the ground level:

  • Duplicity of labor related laws under State and Center directly impedes operational efficiency
  • Easing the Company Law on various matters such as Registrations, even simple things like Franking of Shares etc.
  • Direct tax for individuals joining Startups, like MAT for Corporates may help drive quality talent to Startups
  • Section 79 of the Income Tax Act is counter intuitive to a Startup’s capital structuring reality
  • The advantages that the government offers to SEZs could be offered to Startups as well. This includes Duty free domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance, exemption from Central Sales Tax, exemption from Service Tax and a lot more.

I believe we are at a moment where Startups can actually diversify India’s GDP from a primarily Consumption driven to being Income and Investment driven economy. I therefore look at Startup India, Standup India with great expectations.

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