BW Businessworld
May 12, 2017

Karnataka Is Best State In The World For Women Entrepreneurs

Priyank M. Kharge, minister of state for information technology and tourism, government of Karnataka, gave an undeniable proof why Karnataka has turned out to be the home of entrepreneurs, and why it’s the best place for women entrepreneurs at WEF 2017

Priyank M. Kharge, minister of state for information technology and tourism, government of Karnataka, gave an undeniable proof why Karnataka has turned out to be the home of entrepreneurs, and why it’s the best place for women entrepreneurs at WEF 2017.

“We have about 600-700 seats across our 4 incubators in the state of which 20 percent are reserved for women entrepreneurs, a first in the country,” according to the minister.

One of the most important facets of the multi sector start-up policy which has come up in the economy is the Idea to Proof of Concept (Idea2POC) fund. Karnataka is probably the only state in the country which gives grants for an idea. So if you have an idea and you think that idea is disruptive and good enough to transform the vertical it is in, the state of Karnataka can help with a grant of up to 50 lakhs. “We will help with whatever mentoring and money and we won’t take your equity,” Kharge continued.

It is Karnataka’s secret to being India’s Silicon Valley. Because of its multi-sectoral grant policies, Karnataka has been able to accommodate/house one of the highest number of start-ups in any Indian state.

“In the last 3 months alone we have funded close to 25-30 crores for startups in biotech and IT. What differentiates us from the other funders is that most of the entrepreneurs we have invested are women. It has been encouraging to see women especially in the biotech sector. Another impressive entrepreneurs was a lady who wanted to send broadband signal out into space using satellites. It’s actually so disruptive and innovative we funded her without even fully understanding what she wants to do,” the minister said jokingly. Getting back to his core message the minister stated.

“The point is that we are focusing on emerging technology and we have women entrepreneurs taking the lead.”

The minister announced new centres of excellence for aerospace (launching in June 2017), Big Data along with Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and the IBM country head who is a lady will be the one heading this.

Karnataka recently hosted the largest women entrepreneurship summit in the world called, ‘ThinkBig’. And if there were any disbelievers who needed to verify that Karnataka was indeed the best place for women entrepreneurs, the minister added, “Recently we were awarded the title of best state for women entrepreneurship in the world by Washington DC.”

Not just in startups, Karnataka aims to be progressive even in its industrial policy and is the first state to announce an industrial park dedicated for women. MSMEs and start-ups by women can be based in this park at subsidized prices.

On the matter of feminism, the minister chose to put the records straight from his experience as minister for IT in the thriving tech hub of Karnataka,

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. It isn’t even about these policies we create and keep talking about it. Women are already strong. I believe feminism is about changing the way the world perceives that strength. Imagine if Karnataka had not had Kiran Mazumdar Shaw or Dr Kamini A Rao, who has inspired so many generations to become entrepreneurs.”

He left us with something Dr BR Ambedkar said, “I measure the progress of a community, by the degree of progress which women have achieved.”

“So I think women should stop saying that we can do anything men can do, but men should be saying that we can do anything women can do,” the minister championing the cause of aspiring women entrepreneurs concluded.