Ex-bureaucrat and entrepreneur C Balagopal aims to turn tables for overlooked North East India, for which he will be launching a business incubation centre in Imphal. For the first incubation centre in the state, he has also committed INR 50 lakh of his personal funds. Though he had no inkling of this when he made his grand declaration in Hyderabad.
The Imphal Business Incubation Centre, which has already started accepting proposals, will be known by the snappier name of “Startup Cafe”, to appeal to the youth. It will be run by Niranjan Singh, whom Balagopal has identified as his local partner.
The whole idea was sparked when a college student in the University of Hyderabad asked few months back “So, what are you going to do about it?” in a discussion organised by students who were from the Northeast on debilitating state of it. To this he replied, ‘Yes, you’re right. we all have to do something about it. I’m thinking about it, and I’ll come up with something fast.”
Indeed, he came up with the idea pretty fast. Balagopal found his deed to be a way to break the cycle of hopelessness. He set up the centre as a non-profit as he foresees that startups will require a watertight business plan and mentors to help them with this before being able to bag any funding.
He also made it clear that the structure will be very lean as he doesn’t want his money to be spent in buying almirahs or covering overheads. One of the most common questions in Manipur has been about who would want to do business there. Balagopal replies that he would be asked the same question about Kerala. “While you have insurgents with rifles, people say we have our own, called trade unions,” says the entrepreneur who says his factories in Kerala have never lost a day’s work due to strikes.
C Balagopal is a former Indian Administrative Service officer posted in Manipur where he served till 1983 before relocating to Kerala and started his next innings as an entrepreneur.