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This is How the Maharashtra Government is Redefining the Start-up Ecosystem in the State The government has decided to support MSMEs through small-scale industry centers which will include incubation centers, research and development spaces, technology labs and will be built near Mumbai

By Vanita D'souza

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Before 2017 could end, the State Government of Maharashtra (GoM) introduced an exclusive policy for the women entrepreneurs in the state. In a conversation with Entrepreneur India, Subhash Desai, Minister of Industries, GoM, shares about the motive behind the policy and other initiatives undertaken to improve the start-up ecosystem in Maharashtra. Edited excerpts:

What Triggered the State Government to Come Up With an Exclusive Policy for Women Entrepreneurs?

A: The participation of women entrepreneurs is extremely important for the country's growth and the overall economy. According to Government of India's survey, the participation of women-led business in the economy is just 13.8 per cent while close to nine per cent businesses in Maharashtra was led by women. This was our awakening moment. We decided to work on it, not only match the central government statistics but go beyond it. Maharashtra is one of the most progressive states, so the goal is to make sure that it touches about 20 per cent.

Today, I am proud to say Maharashtra is the first state to announce a policy supporting women entrepreneurship.

Are there Any Eligibility Criteria to Avail Subsidies under this Policy?

A: Of course there are some conditions which apply. Enterprises seeking the benefits should be 100 per cent women controlled. Additionally, these women-led businesses should have at least 50 per cent women employees.

If businesses fulfill these two criteria only then they are eligible for the state government's support.

Where do you Plan to Set-up the Incubation Centers?

A: See, we are planning to set up 10 incubators in the state and are yet to find out the potential areas. However, apart from Mumbai and Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur are the areas which are coming up a start-up hub. Additionally, we are also eyeing to set up incubators in Nashik and Amravati. The government is looking at developing Amravati as a textile hub and this cannot happen without the women's participation.

These incubation centres will be developed under the public-private-partnership (PPP) model. We are negotiating with some of the companies which I cannot disclose as of now.

What are the Other Initiatives Undertaken by The Maharashtra Government to Improve the overall MSMEs Ecosystem of the State?

A: The government has decided to support MSMEs through small-scale industry centers which will include incubation centers, research and development spaces, technology labs and will be built near Mumbai.

Additionally, we have already introduced a venture capital fund, of which about Rs 300 crore is handed over to SIDBI. An entrepreneur with no seed capital can also have access to these funds.

Are you also Helping Maharashtra-based Startups to Go Global?

A: Global? (laughs) Before going global, they have to go national. BSE and NSE serve as platforms for SMEs to raise capital. So the issue of raising funds is resolved with access to capital market. We are trying to promote these platforms in the various parts of the state through forums like seminars so they can have access to the cheap capital.

((This article was first published in the January issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here))

Vanita D'souza

Former Senior Correspondent, Entrepreneur India

I am a Mumbai-based journalist and have worked with media companies like The Dollar Business Magazine, Business Standard, etc.While on the other side, I am an avid reader who is a travel freak and has accepted foodism as my religion.

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