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A Matrilineal state’s journey to big success: How Meghalaya made it’s mark in the startup space of India

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The state of Meghalaya is best known for its resources in tourism, agriculture, floriculture,
handicrafts and handlooms, Meghalaya’s steady rise in the competitive startup race has been attributed to careful planning, optimal resource allocation, and a genuine interest in developing its people’s entrepreneurial potential. The establishment of the state Government’s PRIME (Promotion and Incubation of Market-Driven Enterprises) initiative has helped nurture startups and create a conducive environment for companies to take root. It aims to create a dynamic and collaborative ecosystem that enables easy availability of credit, relevant technology, and access to high-leverage markets.

Under the PRIME initiative, the government has provided Rs. 6 crores in funding support to 210+ startups through various funding initiatives. For instance, 17 entrepreneurs received a Kickstarter grant of up to Rs 5 lakh each. Scaleup Innovation Loans of up to Rs.  25 lakhs were made available to 12 entrepreneurs, and 0% interest loans of up to Rs. 25 lakhs were made available to 74 entrepreneurs. 22 ateliers (workshops) have been given financial support for the benefit of the upcoming generation of entrepreneurs.

The majority of businesses that have benefited from PRIME are focused on handicrafts, conservation, local produce, and educational development, thereby supporting the local economy and promoting socioeconomic development. It is interesting to see how entrepreneurs from Meghalaya are using the state’s ecology and culture to develop new markets. The government’s desire to facilitate smooth and time-bound decisions on statutory compliance, seamless access to incentives, a network of support for access to appropriate technology, and an assistive state apparatus has contributed to the youth’s increased interest in entrepreneurship. In the past few years, entrepreneurs have created employment for over 3000 people, and their businesses have brought about an increase in income for local communities.

Meghalaya has a long history of matrilineal culture, making it one of the rarest places in the world. The women here lead from the front. This is further evident in the state’s substantial support of female entrepreneurs. Women-led startups in the State have a valuation of over INR 10 crore. 20% of the funds allocated to the PRIME Kickstart Grant and the PRIME Innovation Scaleup Loan are reserved for women-led startups. Eri Weave, a female-led company started by Iaishah Rymbai with the goal of preserving the tradition of Eri silk, is a classic example of how Meghalayan businesses can successfully combine culture, resources, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

There are 40 + start-ups with mentors, 60 + registered start-ups, 50+ state-supported and private incubators; and 20+ grassroots start-ups. 10% of the funds allocated to the PRIME Kickstart Grant and the PRIME Innovation Scaleup Loan are reserved for grass-roots innovators. The development of skill-based training and industry-specific incubators has enabled businesses to develop distinctive products and successful strategies, while the youth of the state have benefited from the training and feedback modules built for various phases of the startup process.

The State Government has been effectively filling infrastructural gaps through the implementation of several noteworthy initiatives and the development of robust plans, such as ‘From Idea to Execution,’ for the capacity building of higher education institutions.

Moving forward, the state plans to include a Garo language translation option in the State Startup Portal to expand access to more startups and aspiring business owners as they move down this path of economic development. Additionally, more online sessions to make information available to young minds will be held because of the positive response to previous student-focused virtual entrepreneurship knowledge sessions. Furthermore, the state agencies are working to develop appropriate policies to support the relevant disruptive technologies, including fields like the Internet of Things, AI, robotics, machine learning, and blockchain, in the creation of their policies.

The Central Government’s aspirations of making India into a self-sustaining $5 trillion economy are shared by the Government of Meghalaya, which can only be achieved by fostering a healthy startup culture in the country.

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