After emerging as one of the strongest ecosystems globally, the Indian startup ecosystem has, touched a count of 108 unicorns (as of September 2022). In spite of unprecedented events that we witnessed, this demonstrates a strong entrepreneurial trend. Since the launch of the Startup Indian campaign in 2016, the country has recorded an all-time high growth of over 190% in the number of startups that appeared in the horizon. And, it is seen that the Indian startups are playing a crucial role in job creation, not just in metros but also in Tier II and III cities.
Significantly, India is targeting to become a $5 trillion economy, which will be steered by SMEs and startups fulfilling the demand for digital services across the country. So, to speed up spread of these services, the industry expects the government to announce tax regimes that can enable entrepreneurs to raise funds.
Additionally, The Finance Minister Ms Nirmala Sitharaman requested women entrepreneurs to take up leadership roles. Urging corporates to have more women on their boards, she said (as she addressed a women directors’ conclave at the BSE headquarters) globally it has been proved that companies with more women leaders on their boards are more profitable and more inclusive.
Now, as the Finance Minister is gearing up to present the Union Budget for 2023-24, the industry is hoping for progressive measures to be announced, that will fuel overall economic growth. Budget 2023-24 is a milestone, as it comes a year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. And another notable factor is that it occurs in the midst of a global slowdown and several geo-political complications.
While 2022 was a year of recovery, after the two-year COVID disruptions, the business scene is looking forward to consolidating the gains from 2022 this year, and also growth across sectors.
What are our expectations, against this background? Here are some reactions given by some prominent women entrepreneurs about their expectations from Budget 2023-24.
> Shivani Singh Kapoor, Founder, ThinkStartup
“The surest way for Indian economy to leapfrog ahead is by encouraging and building our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Though the government has already been taking many steps in this direction the sector could still benefit tremendously through more support such as tax incentives and funding support through government schemes to help startups off the ground. Also a more long-term view on developing the entrepreneurial spirit would be support for entrepreneurship education programs at school level to help inspire and equip a whole generation to take up entrepreneurship.
Would also look out for some focus on creating a more inclusive business environment for women by promoting gender diversity and creating more networking opportunities to overcome the lack of enough women role models in the system.”
> Parbati Bhattacharya, Founder, Wanderers Footprints Travel Boutique
“I expect the upcoming Budget to carve out a uniform GST structure.”
> Neena Wagh, Founder, A.L.A.P
“I hope the upcoming Budget has provisions to increase allocation for Disability pensions across the board and make special provisions for women with disabilities, who wish to tread the path of entrepreneurship.”
> Rashmi Pratap, Co-Founder & Editor, 30Stades.com
“Women entrepreneurship helps create a more inclusive and productive society. However, women face a lot of social and economic obstacles in converting their ideas into successful businesses.
The Budget should encourage more women to set up enterprises by offering tax incentives, special financing schemes, skilling programmes and market access. This will go a long way in bridging the gender gap and add another engine to India’s growth story.”
> Dr Priyanka Goyat, Co-Founder, Rejove Aligners
“Through the Ayushman Bharat Yojana, the Indian Government provides 10.74 crore poor and vulnerable families with health coverage up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year. Our expectations from the government for the next Union Budget 2023–24 include the introduction of simplified GST norms, an increase in tax exemptions, and incentives related to research. Working capital and interest-free loans will help Women-led MSMEs in creation of jobs. To encourage the development of the infrastructure for medical education, provide a path toward universal healthcare coverage, and promote the sector’s digitization, the Indian healthcare industry needs a comprehensive sector development programme.”
> Prachi Kagzi, Founder, Little Passports
“The government should encourage women entrepreneurs this budget by new schemes specifically for them, geared towards business loans without collateral, taxation rebates for wholly-owned women businesses’ and subsidies in sectors, where we don’t see women usually – such as manufacturing or in my case educational travel.”
> Juhi Garg, Co-Founder, ED Times
“As a new media startup, I would like the government to make Google, Facebook pay for our content which they get for free as of now. Many countries are trying to get that implemented. I guess to keep the media free and independent, this is an important step.”
As we are in the centre of a harsh winter, the 2023 budget is expected to have a greater focus on providing relief to the startup ecosystem. Of course, this will assist startups in a big way – to enhance greater access to robust and improved digital infrastructure, and more.