A minimum of 33% of the Seed Fund interest-free loans will be dedicated to women-led startups. (Keshav Singh/HT)
A minimum of 33% of the Seed Fund interest-free loans will be dedicated to women-led startups. (Keshav Singh/HT)

Women-led ventures to get a boost in Chandigarh Startup Policy 2021

The policy will provide for incentives over and above the Startup India Action Plan of the Government of India
By Munieshwer A Sagar, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:11 PM IST

To promote budding entrepreneurs, the UT administration will soon unveil the Chandigarh Startup Policy 2021, with “special emphasis” on women-led ventures.

The policy also envisages a Chandigarh Seed Fund Scheme to provide early-stage startup financing, interest-free loans, empanelment of startup mentors, development of co-working spaces, and setting up of incubators.

Once being promoted as an IT hub, Chandigarh has been lagging behind neighbouring cities, particularly Mohali, in terms of attracting new talent and setting up industrial units.

“The aim of the new policy will be to invite the best entrepreneurial minds to make Chandigarh their professional base, and thereby build a robust startup ecosystem in the city. It will help reduce the regulatory burden on startups, thereby allowing them to focus on their core business and keep compliance cost low,” said a senior UT official, requesting anonymity.

The policy will provide for incentives over and above the Startup India Action Plan of the Government of India. “In case the same benefit is enlisted in another policy of the UT administration, it may be availed under only one policy,” said the official.

A startup portal (website) will also be created, which will be a one-stop platform for startups and ecosystem stakeholders containing all relevant information and resources. At least 10% of all goods and services will be procured by the administration from UT-registered startups, states the draft policy.

Entrepreneurship Centre

The administration will set up a dedicated Entrepreneurship Centre for Women (ECW), which is envisaged as a hub for aspiring and seasoned women entrepreneurs providing access to mentorship, capacity building exercises, and other programs beneficial for women-led startups. The ECW shall run dedicated incubation and acceleration program for women on an annual or biannual basis.

“A minimum of 33% of the Seed Fund interest-free loans will be dedicated to women-led startups meeting the eligibility criteria for availing the same,” said the official.

A woman-led startup will be defined as the one with a woman as founder or co-Founder or chief experience officer.

Seed fund for startups

The Chandigarh Seed Fund will be a grant-in-aid based seed fund with an initial corpus of 10 crore and a total corpus of 50 crore over a period of five years to support over 500 entrepreneurs in the UT.

The administration will provide collateral free loans of up to 10 lakh to UT-registered startups. These loans shall be interest-free for the first one year, following which the interest rate is likely to be fixed.

Panel of mentors

A number of “startup mentors” with expertise in domains such as business model development, funding strategies, company registration, accounting and taxation, legal, and digital marketing will be empanelled.

The mentor profiles will be hosted on the Startup Portal which will also contain a pathway for startups to reach out to these mentors for free. These mentors will also provide support to aspiring entrepreneurs, especially students, through ideation workshops.

Incubators, co-working spaces

The administration will partner with higher education institutions and private players to set up state-of-the-art incubators or upgrade existing incubators in the UT.

“An incubation centre for IT sector is operating since 2001. The new policy will focus on accommodating non-IT startups and expand the scope of incentivising private and institutional incubators, co-working spaces and startups,” the official said.

The administration will create co-working facilities offering seats on rent for startups and innovators on a pay per use basis. The startups at co-working spaces would be able to access facilities such as high-speed internet, power backup secured access and 24X7 security with CCTV surveillance.

Incentives for students

Entrepreneurship Cells will be set up at all colleges as student-driven initiatives. Students who wish to pursue entrepreneurship will also be allowed to take a break of one year.

Student entrepreneurs from UT-based institutes working on a startup idea in their graduation year may receive allowances, such as attendance relaxation, grace marks, and permission to convert their startup project into a final-year project counted towards their degree completion.

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