Karnataka - Ideal ecosystem for women entrepreneurs

Karnataka - Ideal ecosystem for women entrepreneurs

"Women should be uplifted for the upliftment of the nation, for if a woman is uplifted, society and nation are uplifted" said Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.

Women empowerment is critical to the process of the development of the community.

In recognition of this adage, Karnataka Government is dedicated to advancing women throughout the entrepreneurial ecosystem. By building a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem that taps into the immense pipeline of talented women entrepreneurs, the Karnataka Government has provided an ideal platform for global investors to set up women owned enterprises in the State. Women entrepreneurs face many hurdles like limited access to finance, unfavourable policies, regulatory barriers, lack of access to markets and lack of access to trusted networks. By removing many of these hurdles Karnataka offers enormous opportunities and a level the playing field for women who want to set up and run any type of business.

Karnataka ranks third in the nation for women entrepreneurial activity and is home to 103,169 Women Business Enterprises. The total investment of women owned enterprises totalled $ 404 million in 2012-13 and they employed 0.46 million persons signifying the economic impact of women owned enterprises. The fourth Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSME) census, the four States — Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal — put together have 51.9 per cent of the country’s women-owned business indicating that South India and especially Karnataka has an excellent ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.

Not resting on its laurels Karnataka Government has taken further policy decisions that support women enterprises. New Industrial Policy 2014-19 merits a special mention.

New Industrial Policy 2014-19

Women entrepreneurship is one of the thrust areas in Karnataka Government’s New Industrial Policy 2014-19. According to the New Industrial Policy of 2014-19, the aim of the government is to encourage women entrepreneurs and “….give a special thrust to women entrepreneurship and to improve the contribution of women entrepreneurs and facilitate creation of more women enterprises in the state in the next five years.” In this policy enterprises promoted either as a proprietary concern or a partnership firm / private limited company where all the partners or directors are women will be given special concessions and facilities as given below:

  • Two industrial areas especially created and exclusively for women at potential locations such as Hubli/Dharwad and Harohally in Kanakapura taluk.
  • Reservation of 5% of plots/sheds in the future industrial areas/estates established by Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) and Karnataka State Small Industries Development Corporation (KSSIDC) for women entrepreneurs.
  • Exclusive clusters for women entrepreneurs operating in sectors of textile, gems & jewellery.
  • Women entrepreneurs trained by CEDOK or recognized training institutions will be provided with low interest start-up loans (with interest subsidy) and flexible repayment schedule.
  • State to introduce Entrepreneurship Development Programmes exclusively for prospective women entrepreneurs.
  • Reimbursement of the cost of preparation of project reports to the extent of Rs.2 lakh per unit
  • Investment promotion subsidy will be given to micro, small and medium manufacturing enterprises based on value of fixed assets (VFA). The extent of the subsidy will be based on type of enterprise and whether it is located in Hyderabad Karnataka area or not.
  • Exemption from Stamp Duty for MSMEs
  • Concessional registration charges for MSMEs
  • Reimbursement of Land Conversion Fee
  • Exemption from Entry Tax- for 100% exemption from payment of Entry Tax on 'Plant & Machinery and Capital Goods 'for an period of three years from the date of commencement of project
  • Subsidy for Setting up ETPs for Manufacturing MSMEs One time capital subsidy up to 75% of the cost of ETPs, subject to a ceiling
Support system for women entrepreneurs

Karnataka has many associations that focus on creating an ecosystem that supports and encourages women to become successful entrepreneurs. Be it training, mentoring or networking associations like AWAKE, EMERG, COWE, KCCI Hubbali and FKCCI are hand holding women entrepreneurs through their arduous journey to a successful enterprise.

Along with these associations the Karnataka Government too contributes to the growth of women enterprises. Many women led enterprises fail due lack of proper global exposure. The Karnataka Government tries to give international exposure to women entrepreneurs by sponsoring delegations to various trade fairs. This gives an opportunity to women entrepreneurs to network with various business organisations/ industries and invite investors to invest in Karnataka with joint ventures between women-to-women entrepreneurs. For example, in June 2015, I led a delegation of women entrepreneurs to Austin Texas, in United Sates of America. The delegation appraised US-based MNCs of investment opportunities in Karnataka and prospects for women entrepreneurs. This year Invest Karnataka 2016 will be a different as the focus will be not only on large industries but also on small enterprises promoted by women. We intend to encourage MNCs to associate with women led enterprises and invest in Karnataka.

Future beckons….

Several studies have said India is a future hotspot of female entrepreneurial activity, ahead of Hong Kong and other places but women entrepreneurs have still some way to go before reaching full potential. With these new initiatives taken by the Karnataka Government, women entrepreneurs now have a golden opportunity to set up their entities in this State.

K Ratna Prabha, IAS

Additional Chief Secretary, Commerce & Industries, GoK

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