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HindustanTimes Tue,22 Jul 2014
Grant, equity or debt?
Rahat Bano, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 12, 2013
First Published: 15:19 IST(12/2/2013)
Last Updated: 15:23 IST(12/2/2013)

You have a cracker of an idea that you wish to take from paper to market. What you now need is the dough, which can come from a raft of sources. It can be from your own (or daddy’s, a kin’s or a buddy’s) kitty or from a total stranger in the name of an institution or an organisation.

Those with a concept can, for example, look for a launch pad provided by various incubators at educational institutions and by organisations. Some of these give mentorship and other support as well.

Broadly, one can get funds as grant, equity or debt, says Paul Basil, founder and CEO, Villgro Innovations Foundation, which offers funding, mentoring, networking and talent to very early stage innovation-based enterprises. (In the past 11 years, Villgro has invested R4 million into 64 projects that it incubated. These further raised Rs. 20 million.) Each of these three categories offer different amounts — from just several thousand rupees to $2-3million and have their pros and cons, depending on your perspective.

“Nothing comes with no strings but it has positives,” says Basil.

For example, if you get funding by way of someone buying shares in your firm, you lose that much portion to the investor. However, “The upside is, they are involved in your business. They push you to scale up because they want to exit after, for example, five years. At times there may be an unnecessary push.”

On the other hand, getting a bank loan is difficult without collaterals, especially in some of the knowledge-based industries where you don’t have fixed assets, says Basil. But if you do secure a loan, the financial institution would be with you only up to a point. “The bankers don’t push you in growth…The positive is, you don’t lose control (such as in equity investment). As the value of your company goes up, you don’t lose it to an equity investor,” says Basil.

Here are some organisations which help entrepreneurs

* National Entrepreneurship Network, Bangalore
* Technopreneur Promotion Programme, Union Ministry of Science and Technology
* Grand Challenges (funded by the Canadian government)
* Stanford-India Biodesign fellowship (based in Delhi)
* Aavishkaar, Mumbai and Chennai
* Acumen Fund (global fund with India office in Mumbai)
* Grassroots Business Fund (HQ: Washington, DC; India office: Noida) 
* Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (set up by Indian government and SIDBI. Entrepreneur can take a loan of up to Rs. 100 lakh from a lender while the trust provides collateral)
* National Institute for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development
* Villgro Innovations Foundation, Chennai

The list is not exhaustive

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