Known as the ‘land of festivals’, the state of Nagaland is coloured with year-long festivities, as all tribes commemorate their own festivals with a gracious mix of colour, music and dance; and most of these festivals revolve around agriculture, as it remains the mainstay of the Naga society. Acknowledging the formal recognition of the state on 1st December, 1963 we notice that the help extended to entrepreneurs in Nagaland to get registered (and linked to MSME schemes) is indeed a significant step towards improving women’s welfare in the state.
It’s interesting that a report by UNDP and Exim bank reveals that MSMEs from the Northeast are unique because most are owned, operated or led by women. Many enterprises engage in producing and selling pickles, street-vending, making handicrafts, weaving handlooms, cultivating crops or running other home-based businesses. In fact, by giving them access to credit through Udyam schemes, it opens up enormous potential to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the women in the state.
Setting that aside, carrying out operations in Nagaland comes with its own set of unique challenges.
> Nagaland Startup Policy 2019
When this was formed, it was decided that special efforts will be made to identify women entrepreneurs in rural and urban Nagaland, with inputs to create awareness among women entrepreneurs on various state-and centrally-sponsored schemes. Plus 25% of funds would be dedicated to promoting startups by women entrepreneurs in the state.
Nagaland State Industrial Policy 2000 (revised 2004) pointed out that most economic activities by women in the state can be covered under its identified thrust areas like – tourism, food processing, agriculture, sericulture, etc.
> Start-up Nagaland
Aiming to accelerate and promote local entrepreneurs in the State of Nagaland, the Department of Industries & Commerce has been appointed as the Nodal department to implement the Start-up Policy for the state. This will create an enabling environment for start-ups to grow, by adding facilities such as – ensuring knowledge exchange, capacity building, policy interventions and access to funding.
Some of the incentives provided include: GST Reimbursement, Special Focus on Women Entrepreneurs, Stamp Duty Reimbursement, Digital Upgradation Subsidiary, Broadband Connectivity Reimbursement, Power Subsidy, Reimbursement of Patent Filing Cost and Marketing and Promotion Assistance.
The State Government will ease regulations for registrations and renewals with self- certification and deemed approval for recognized start-ups to avail Government licenses and services.
On a positive note, the State Government will encourage participation of Start-ups in public procurement by waiving off prior experience or turnover requirements, so long as the product meets the desired specifications and encourage consortium of eligible companies with start-ups in bidding for State Government projects which will bring in the element of innovation and new ideas.
Plus, start-ups selected under this policy shall be eligible for incentives/provisions under Nagaland Industrial and Investment Policy in force.
> Women Entrepreneurial Development Initiative (WEDI)
As part of the socio-economic upliftment of women programmes of the Department, the Women Entrepreneurial Development Initiative was introduced with the objective to promote upcoming women entrepreneurs by providing interest-free loan of Rs. 1.00 lakh per beneficiary for enterprise creation.
The criteria for eligibility are: unemployed women, preferably educated-unemployed; age of the applicant should be between 25-50 yrs during the time of applying for the loan; applicants already covered under any other scheme of financing sponsored by the Central or State Government or financial institutions shall not be eligible; applicants should be backed by a Guarantor who should be a regular government servant with minimum five (5) years of service from retirement/superannuation.
> Nagaland Bamboo Policy 2004
Here there it is mentioned that provision of end-to-end support for entrepreneurs working with bamboo irrespective of gender, will be made available. Due to the easy availability of raw materials, it was noted that this could be a sunrise sector for women entrepreneurs.
> Nagaland Tourism Policy 2001
There are certain incentives mentioned here, that could benefit women starting their own business, such as: Support for travel agents/operators; Development of fairs and festivals for tourists to highlight the state’s culture, heritage, handicrafts, folk arts, etc.