”Kashmir is a virgin valley, there is a scope for many start-ups to come up here. Having a virgin market means an opportunity. There are trying to change the dynamics in Jammu and Kashmir. Start-ups are the main builders of any country or state, so having so many start-ups would generate employment and push us for growth. Our journey was tough, we bootstrapped it, but we saw there are people across the country who are willing to invest in start-ups in Jammu and Kashmir. We needed money for the growth, and we got that easily, ” said Abid Rashid, Co-Founder Fast-Beetle.
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Abid also added that the government needs to open a single window for entrepreneurs who are wanting to start a new venture. And the youth also need not only to depend on the government but also look for private investors as well. ”I think a start-up is building a company and it needs to grow at 10x speed. A start-up needs to have finances within the first four to five months so that it can grow. The process with the government is delayed and it takes time. I would request and suggest that there should be a single window or committee which can process it faster so that it won’t grow. I think youth need to look at the government for finances, but they must also explore private investors. Getting private funding is easier and they should rely on both so that they can grow faster, ” said Abid Rashid, Co-Founder Fast-Beetle.
Another Start-up called Tiffin Aaw meaning ” Meal is coming’ with a motive of serving home-cooked food to offices, colleges and hospitals were set up in 2019. It became extremely popular in Kashmir to deliver free food to the hospitals during covid. The covid patients, attendants and doctors were sent home-cooked food free of cost by Tiffin Aaw. The start-up later crowd-funded and generated huge support from people across the globe for their work. The founder Rayees Ahmad, says the startups tackle the major Unemployment issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a big way. Tiffin Aaw has a dozen employees working with them.
”Kashmir has a lot of unemployment and to tackle the problem of unemployment, It’s very important to have many startups being started here. you don’t really need a lot of money to start a business. I started from my home kitchen and used to deliver myself. It’s a slow process and it grows with time. We eventually reach a stage where we provide employment to youngsters. The start-ups do tackle the problem of employment, I have around 12 youth working with me, ” said Rayees Ahmad, Founder, Tiffin Aaw.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir has been pushing for youngsters to start their own ventures in various sectors. According to the government, more than 400 startups have been registered with them and many of these have been extremely successful.
Irtif Lone, Expert Start-ups, J&K Government said “The start-ups are not only growing in J&K but across the globe, there are more than 400 start-ups that have registered with J&K start-up and Start up India, but the major portion of these startups come from Horticulture or e-commerce, where in they provide support to the artisans where they connect them with the global audiences. Today a large number of people working in Multinational companies are coming back home and starting their own start-ups and providing employment to at least 50-100 youth in each start-up. There have been many successful cases in Jammu and Kashmir”
The Government has started over a dozen incubation centres across the Union Territory for the youth. The handholding of these youngsters is done through training as well as providing them with a one-time grant by the government.
There are lots of interventions that the government has done, major of them are setting up incubation centres, there are around a dozen incubation centres across the Union Territory. There is a grant of 12 lac rupees which is provided to the start-ups.
While there is a growth in the number of Start-up in the Union Territory, there are very few private investment firms in Jammu and Kashmir. Angel Network has more than a dozen investors in its network who are financing the start-ups in the region. Earlier these start-ups were reaching out to investors in metro cities like Delhi and Mumbai but now they have options available at a local level in Jammu and Kashmir.
Shabir Handoo, Chairman, Kashmir Angel Network said “Kashmir Angel Network is the first of its kind company in the region, It was incorporated in July 2021, with the idea of fostering a platform. where the experts would meet investors and investors would meet the start-ups. The core idea is to give a business environment and enabling environment to start-ups. The raw and budding ideas of the businessmen particularly of the youth who could not find a platform where they could meet the experts, and funders, and get the business ideas. This kind of platform was required in this part of the country where no such platform existed, We have funded 8 start-ups and 12 are in the pipeline.“
These start-ups are not only helping promote the local craft and products but also providing employment opportunities to the thousands of unemployed youths in the region and helping the Government to curb the growing problem of unemployment.