This Leader has Made Assam the Leading Economy Among 7 NE States
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The first BJP candidate to be sworn in as the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal has a wise head on young shoulders.
Previously as the erstwhile Minister of State for the Entrepreneurship and Skill Development department, Sonowal has been widely viewed as a ray of hope in Assam’s start-up eco-system. However, even after launching the ‘Make in Assam’ scheme and building incubators, entrepreneurs are skeptical about the promised ecosystem. Leading the economy among the essentially under-developed 7-sister states of India, Assam boasts of the largest tea-plantations in the world, constituting about 14.28 per cent of the global tea-production.
Assam, under him, has lately won the award for ‘Best NorthEastern State’ showing manufacturing excellence in an ASSOCHAM event. Entrepreneur interviewed the Chief Minister to know more about his plans for Assam.
From ease of starting up perspective, where does Assam stand right now?
Under the Assam Ease of Doing Business Act 2016, we have already started a single window agency and a comprehensive single window portal. Over 250 services have been uploaded in the portal for online submission of forms and getting clearances and as many as 37 state government departments/agencies have been brought under it with time lines for clearances notification. Apart from this, project management units have been setup in each District Industries and Commerce Centre (DICC) to help businesses in the state.
Are you looking forward to tie-up with ASEAN countries for start-up funding schemes or initiatives?
Yes. It is proposed to tie up with various countries for start-up funding under venture capital funds. There are a lot of synergies between North East India and the ASEAN region due to geographical proximity. Moreover, some of the trunk infrastructure projects like the India–Myanmar– Thailand Highway will further strengthen the link between North East and ASEAN region.
What do you think are the challenges in Assam regarding incubation of business ideas and start-ups?
For us, the biggest challenge would be to create a conducive ecosystem at the school and college level and setting up incubation centers or a common platform for the first generation entrepreneurs. Our main focus is agriculture based enterprises and skill development, as Assam is mostly an agri-based economy, why not use that to the fullest.
(This article was first published in the September 2017 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)