Prof. Amitabha Bandyopadhyay, KENT Entrepreneurship and Innovation Chair Professor, Professor – In-charge, Innovation & Incubation, Startup Incubation & Innovation Centre ( SIIC), Indian Institute Of Technology, Kanpur (Nominated Member of National Startup Advisory Council): “Provisions such as the incorporation of one-person companies and revision of definition for small companies under the Companies Act 2013 provide a well-deserved incentivized boost to the startup ecosystem in India. The country’s flourishing entrepreneurial fervour has made this ecosystem the 3rd largest globally, with a fleet of 38 unicorns under its belt.
As the Government paves the way for ease of doing business for startups and establishing critical R&D networks, we expect further such reforms which are domain-specific and focused on manufacturing sector to boost indigenous product development.”
Manish Patel – Founder and CEO, Mswipe: “Small retailers and kiranas were instrumental in growing the share of digital payments in India and in providing easy payment solutions to their customers since the onset of COVID 19. The budget provision of Rs.1500 crore to incentivize digital modes of payments comes as a recognition of these very efforts and will go a long way in encouraging Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to switch to accepting digital payments.
The announcement by the Honourable Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has met the industry’s expectation of providing financial incentives that enable small businesses to adopt digital solutions. As India’s largest POS acquirer and end-to-end digital enabler of SMEs, Mswipe sees this as a great boost for digital payments infrastructure as well as growth in share of small businesses in online commerce. Further, the budget allocation of Rs.15,700 crore to support the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), which is more than double of this year’s budget estimate, is also a positive step. Similarly, the proposed development of a world class fintech hub at GIFT-IFSC is yet another effort in the direction of placing India as a leading innovation ecosystem on the global fintech map.”
Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder, MD & CEO, PayNearby: “Considering the challenging year faced by the Indian economy, the Ministry of Finance has put up a fine balancing act. While initiatives to support digital payments are few, the budget showcases a strong intent to continue driving a less-cash ecosystem. On one hand, the Union Budget 2021 has various encouraging initiatives that will propel aspiring entrepreneurs and boost small businesses. On the other hand, it renders a lot of focus on uplifting the lower stratum of the society which includes the migrants, gig workers and farmers among others. The pandemic-induced economy has played an important role in dispelling the long-held scepticism regarding the gig workforce’s efficiency and dependability.
The proposal to extend social benefits to gig economy workers and farmers along with a portal to register their details will pave the way to formalise the sector and create employment avenues amid a robust ecosystem to fulfil the government’s Aatmanirbhar vision. Furthermore, initiatives such as the development of a world-class fintech hub at GIFT, investor charter and a dedicated fund of Rs 1,500 crores for digital payments are extremely encouraging as they will augment innovation within the fintech industry and accelerate the pace of a financially inclusive, cashless economy. we are eager to explore the new and exciting opportunities that will emerge.”
Jashan Arora, Director at Mastertrust Capital Services: “The 2021-22 budget comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a significant one for Finance Minister. Ms Nirmala Sitharaman’s first budget of the decade doesn’t have much for the common man. While no changes were made to the personal income tax, senior citizens will get an exemption from filing returns. No income tax for those with taxable income below Rs 2.5 lakh. For the startups, she has introduced that the centre will reduce the margin money requirement to 15 percent from 25 percent for schemes under Startup India. There is nothing adverse as far as taxes are concerned.
The government has planned to inject about 64,180 Cr over the next 6 years in the health sector under PM “Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana”. It is expected to develop the capacities of various health care units under National Health Mission to strengthen existing national institutions, create new institutions, and cater to the detection and cure of new and emerging diseases. The main interventions under the scheme support for 17,788 rural and 11,024 urban Health and Wellness Centers. Setting up integrated public health labs in all districts and 3382 block public health units in 11 states. Expansion of the Integrated Health Information Portal to all States/UTs to connect all public health labs. Also, by setting up of a national institution for One Health, a Regional Research Platform for WHO South East Asia Region, 9 Bio-Safety Level III laboratories and 4 regional National Institutes for Virology.
The Government has also shared a plan to divest 2 PSBs and bring in an IPO for LIC. This not only plans to minimise a thrust of Central Government in financial institutions but also opens up new investment space for private sector. Post disinvestment, economic growth of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs)/ financial institutions will be through infusion of private capital, technology and best management practices. This will contribute to economic growth and new jobs. Disinvestment proceeds to finance various social sector and developmental programmes of the government.”
Vishal Bhatia, CFO – True Balance, a lending & financial Service platform, authorized by RBI: “This Budget makes us optimistic about growth of digital ecosystem. Emphasising on importance of Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics will go a long way in digital governance. To give a further boost to digital transactions, the budget earmarked 1500 crores to promote digital payments. Although we were looking for some positive announcements on digital lending for the regulated entities but could not find any such direct announcement. Nevertheless, all-in-all a positive budget which has vouched for the power of digital, and more so in the post Covid-19 era. “
Raghav Kansal, Founder & CEO, ET Medialabs, a digital advertising, analytics, and reporting solutions company: “The Finance Minister’s first paperless and crucial budget of the decade turned out well for startups as the Budget made space for easing norms around setting up of One Person Company (OPC) by reducing the residency limit of NRIs from 182 to 120 days. Earlier, only Indian resident citizens were allowed to form one person companies in India. Allowing the relaxation on OPC will be helpful in encouraging solo founders to take the leap into entrepreneurship, will also encourage startups and entrepreneurs to do business in an organized structure that will help them to grow and boost the economy. Additionally, minimizing the tax burden is a strong step forward to support the startup ecosystem. It would have been great if there was a tax rebate on ESOPs as it might be more beneficial in the long run.”
Hersh Shah, CEO, India Affiliate of Institute of Risk Management: “We welcome the Finance Minister’s announcement to revamp the higher education sector in line with the NEP2020. Among other critical developments, the Nation First policy, outlined in the budget, is based on strengthening education for all with an emphasis on primary and higher education. The budget focuses on the need to foster international collaborations in research and development as a critical tool for skill enhancement. The announcement of higher education cluster in nine cities will bring synergy and further strengthen the education sector. It will allow enhanced cooperation between good private and public institutions, encouraging knowledge-sharing and coherence. We are looking forward to the Higher Education Commission which will be tasked with taking forward the vision of NEP2020.
The Budget 2021 also addressed the key issues facing the economy today. The six pillars, as envisioned by the FM, will be critical in reviving the post-pandemic economy. The decision to double MSME allocation will provide much-needed relief to the micro, small, and medium-scale entrepreneurs who were hit hard during the lockdown. Incentivising one-person companies, coupled with easier debt resolution will further help in boosting this critical employment-generating sector. The slew of measures in finance, insurance, and banking continue the government’s commitment to reforms while providing critical space for capital inflow in the economy. Overall, the budget shows the government’s commitment towards developing a robust education ecosystem that is in harmony with sustainable development and a self-reliant India.”
Shachindra Nath, Executive Chairman & Managing Director, U GRO Capital: Broadly evaluating, the Union Budget 2021 is a significant attempt by the government, to accept a higher fiscal deficit and enhance expenditure towards economic revival. It is appreciative of the government to put a special emphasis towards providing relief to the tax payers and reducing the burden posed by COVID-19. One of the key highlights of the budget is setting-up of the development finance institution (DFI) towards infrastructure financing and institutional framework to purchase corporate bond, which would solve the issue of liquidity for the infrastructure sector and corporate bond market. Also, with the path-breaking initiative of instituting Asset Reconstruction Company (ARC) and asset management company (AMC) for NPA consolidation, banks have been allowed to streamline their focus on the much needed growth.
The government has reduced the threshold for NBFCs to initiate recovery under the SARFAESI Act, 2002. This is an effective step towards ushering credit discipline and in the long-term will increase the penetration of credit to small businesses. The government has also doubled its allocation towards MSMEs, which would greatly support their revival and the eventual growth. Holistically, the Union Budget 2021 is an encouraging event, yet we optimistically look forward to a distinctive support for NBFCs, with a framework to provide them sufficient liquidity, while also furthering the credit guarantee scheme support to the MSMEs.
Vinayak Nath- Founder and CEO, My Place Coworking India’s 1sy integrated Coworking: “The budget has some hits and misses for the startup ecosystem. Exemption on capital gains on investments in startups and allowing OPC for NRIs will surely improve investment opportunities and cash liquidity. Tax holiday also comes as a relief to the startups that are striving to survive in these challenging times.”
Neeraj Tyagi- Founder and CEO, We Founder Circle- startup investment platform: “The funding in the startup ecosystem has been dry in the last one year. To support the community it was imperative to attract investors. Extension of capital gains exemptions on startup investments and allowing NRIs to establish OPCs are two announcements that might water the dry field for entrepreneurs. This will also widen the possibilities for startup investment platforms that used to scout for angel investors outside mostly. This is going to make domestic investments market healthier.”
Avinash Godkhindi (CEO of Zaqggle ): “FinTech Hub at Gin City will give a tremendous boost to the Fintech Industry. This will pave the way to look at disruption Technology in the not just Finance sections but Payment and lending sections too. Push for Atma Nirvbhar again rephrases the Govt commitments in Make in India. This will not only boost jobs in the country but also encourage entrepreneurship & innovation.
The 1 person company changes & the valuation in residency days again helps in a big way to attract global Indians to come back and start contributing to Indian Growth. Their entrepreneurship will act as a catalyst and a guiding line to the young entrepreneurs of India and create an even more robust ecosystem.”
Madhusudan Ekambaram, Co-Founder & CEO, KreditBee and Co-Founder, FACE (Fintech Association for Consumer Empowerment): “The Government’s decision to boost entrepreneurship and digital payments in India is a testament to its commitment to realize its vision of an economically self-reliant nation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given a fillip to the adoption of digital payments as more and more consumers realized the benefits and convenience they have to offer. I welcome the Rs 1,500 crore scheme announced by the Hon’ble Finance Minister in the Union Budget 2021 to promote digital payments as it will help create a robust and dynamic payments ecosystem in India’s emerging digital economy.
The extension of tax holiday by one more year to March 2022, along with capital gains exemption, will boost startups by helping them tide over the economic crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the proposals to incentivize OPC incorporation along with measures like the removal of the restrictions on paid-up capital and turnover or reducing residency limit is in sync with the government vision of encouraging and catalyzing entrepreneurship in India.”
Vishal Yadav – CEO, FDI India: “This year’s budget provides a great philip to the economic growth by clearly laying out strategic moves that not only foster the growth of key industries such as manufacturing but also make India an attractive investment destination. We are thrilled that the government has put an increased emphasis on ease of doing business as is a basic prerequisite for a thriving FDI ecosystem. There is definitely a balanced approach to FDI whether in terms of equity or debt.
The insurance sector has attained great importance in the post-pandemic phase especially life and health. Therefore, the government’s move to raise the FDI cap for the insurance sector from 49% to 74% allowing foreign ownership in insurance with safeguards was indeed a much-required step. We appreciate the government’s conceited efforts towards cementing India as a preferred investment destination globally.”
Nikhil Das, Founder, Agdhi: Key Takeaways for Agritech: “The budget presented by Nirmala Sitharaman Ji today acknowledged the importance of agriculture in India’s economy as one of the central pillars employing 15% of the population. The central budget has shown confidence in the Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime and has upheld it for the farmer. The budget has promised 1.5 times MSP against the cost of production across all commodities. This is likely to bring in more innovation and adoption of technology in farming. Besides this, the budget has proposed an increase in agriculture credit.
The budget has realized the importance of start-ups in job creation and has extended the tax holiday for startups till March 2022. Already withering under the impact of the pandemic, the announcement has come as a big relief for startups that have become a critical employment generator with 4,70,000 jobs. Such measures are likely to boost sentiments across the board among potential entrepreneurs who are keen on entering the market with their business ideas.
These announcements in the budget were preceded by some welcome news for startups that included the broadening of the definition of startups and approval of the “Startup India Seed Fund Scheme” which comes with a corpus of Rs 945 crore. Overall, the budget has decided on supporting sectors that generate employment and seeks to revive an economy that has been severely hit by a global pandemic.”
Suman Gandham – Founder, Finin: “It is a big leap ahead with the FM going digital (paperless this year). The proposal to use data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning to make regulatory filings more frictionless for businesses and startups is a step up as MCA-21 shares crucial information to various stakeholders such as the regulators, investors and companies. All filings under the company’s law are submitted to the ministry through this portal. This is very much in sync with the voice of Finin as India’s first neobank that employs AI and ML for various financial recommendations. The earmarking of Rs 1,500 crore for promoting a digital mode of payments is also a positive move and step ahead for the Fintech industry. It is also fascinating to see the facilitation of a Fintech hub at GIFT city, opening up more avenues for Fintech hubs to go PAN India from an administrative standpoint.
It is also interesting to note the efforts taken towards doubling the allocations with the Government setting aside Rs 15,700 crore in FY22 and the revision of definition under Companies Act, 2013 for small companies by increasing their threshold for capitalization. The Budget also proposed to reduce the margin money requirement from 25% to 15% for startups and an extension of the tax holiday for startups by a year which comes as a relief.”
Vinay Bagri, CEO and Co-founder, Niyo: “The Union Budget 2021 has been in the favour of the Fintech and startup community. After the last one year of pandemic and the impact it has had on the Fintech sector, the facilitation of a world-class fintech hub at GIFT city is a huge step in providing further growth opportunities to the sector. Given the need for digital shift with an aim of having a cashless economy, the allocation of 1500 crores for the promotion of digital payments comes at the right time.
The startup sector has been one of the most affected sectors in the pandemic. Finance ministry’s move to extend tax holidays for startups until March 2022 will offer much needed relief and boost productivity in the coming future. This along with the decision to allow incorporation of one person companies will further empower the overall sector, thus leading to innovation as well as birth of new startups.
The government’s announcement of social security benefits for the gig and platform workers is a first of a kind initiative which will give further impetus to financial inclusion. The announcement of ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ for migrant workers and provision of minimum wages to all categories including women, will further contribute in strengthening the migrant workers’ position in the economy by providing them with the required economic support thus safeguarding their future.”
Farman Beig- Founder and CEO, Wat-a-Burger: “Industries like restaurant chains have suffered the pandemic blow the most. Even more if they were startups. In this situation, Budget2021 has provided a little support in terms of tax holiday. However, benefits like easy loans at better interest rates with simpler procedures could make it a lot easier. Input tax credit was expected to be brought back in the restaurant system. Without which we are paying more than GST to the government and we end up increasing our operations cost by 15 %.”
Rahul Pagidipati – CEO, ZebPay: “We are excited to see a budget that put priority on healthcare and economic growth. Blockchain and crypto assets can play a positive role in improving healthcare delivery and financial inclusion. Moving forward on crypto regulation will allow India to take full advantage of this technology.
Until that time, we’ll continue to self-regulate with strict KYC and AML policies. And we’ll stand ready to have an honest, positive dialogue with the government about this new asset class the whole world is investing in and how blockchain technology can help in various sectors including the budget priorities like healthcare, agriculture, and the first digital census.”
Anil Kumar N.S., Co-Founder and MD of Aeldra Financial: “It is heartening to see some of the budget announcements like Fintech-hub at GIFT city and 1500Cr push for digital payments that show the Government’s acknowledgement of fintech being the flagship of the startup ecosystem in India. Fintech is and will be one of the fastest growing sector in India at almost 23% CAGR over next 5 years and will be a major driver of growth as well to generate the 90 Million jobs required in India over the next 5-10 years (as per a recent McKinsey Survey). With the revival in consumer sentiment, spending and investments, we see an uptick in hiring ourselves and faster roll-out of our innovative products. We clearly expected more push towards adoption of technology in banking and more allocation towards innovations in fintech. Easing of regulatory clearances for cross-border inflows and outflows of funds and rationalization of FEMA will help accelerate further growth.”
Apoorv Jain, CEO, and Co-Founder, Express Stores: “The budget gave major emphasis to healthcare and infra sectors. Besides, a host of substantial announcements were made on the divestment front, including the coming IPO of Life Insurance Corporation. Incentivization to one person company by removing capital limits, free conversions and overhauling residency limits definitely will boost the startup ecosystem in India. We welcome the move to help India’s startups beat pandemic blues, the tax holiday extended by one more year to March 2022 during Budget presentations today. The capital gains exemption given to startups was also extended by a year more.”
Rishab Mehta, CEO & Founder, GrayQuest. GrayQuest: “This year’s Union Budget was in the spirit of “do no harm” in terms of any adverse policies being implemented. Broadly, the various decisions laid out in this year’s budget are more “incremental” rather than “transformational” in nature. Accessibility and affordability of education across the weaker economic strata of society has been a perennial challenge in our country, especially this year with the disparity increasing manifold due to lack of online education infrastructure both at school and student level. This year’s budget has indicated a good intention of progress in addressing this gap. Government’s decision to strengthen over 15,000 schools under NEP, set up 100 new Sainik Schools, raise allocation for ‘Eklavya’ schools in hilly areas etc. will provide a fillip to quality education.
This budget has also laid down several measures which are further boosting the cause of both startups and especially fintech startups. Once again, we believe the steps taken relating to startups, although incremental in nature, point towards a long term policy goal of the government to signficantly boost the sector via favourable policies, albeit with incremental steps taken every year instead of a big-bang transformational reform. The decision to extend capital gains tax exemption by another year is another step in that respect. Specific to fintech, the setting up a world-class Fintech hub at Gift city will add impetus and government recognition to the growing relevance of Fintech companies in India, which is essential considering that it is a regulated sector.”
Kumar Gaurav – Founder and CEO, Cashaa: “Strengthening the financial scenario definitely stood at the top of the priority list. Hence, the announcement of the ease of establishment of the finance institution is a great move. Also, embracing the technologies like AI and ML is the need of hour. However, we expect the government to enhance the financial system and create more jobs by welcoming blockchain and cryptocurrency. India has become key crypto market in less than a year since Supreme court uplifted the ban. The Indian government can be at the forefront of crypto regulation, to be adopted worldwide. Smart regulations can help eliminate scams and enable legitimate business to thrive, assisting the government’s ambition for a digital India to flourish.”
Sumit Garg, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Luxury Ride: “I welcome the move announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on voluntary scrappage policy, which will reduce vehicle pollution and promote a healthier environment. As passenger vehicles are major pollution contributor, it has to undergo a fitness test after every 15 years and personal vehicles for 20 years. Government to incentivize incorporation of one person companies is a boost for the startup ecosystem. I also welcome the move on exemption of income tax filing returns for the senior citizens of our country.”
Sam Cherian, Founder & Managing Director, Schevaran Laboratories Pvt. Ltd.: “The Union Budget announced today comes as a structural reset for the Indian economy post the pandemic aftermath. The focus on key pillars- from agriculture to infrastructure to healthcare and digital & financial inclusion is overwhelming. In her budget 3.0, the Hon’ble Finance Minister pointed out that the manufacturing sector has to grow in double digits on a sustained basis for India to touch 5 trillion economy. This demonstrates positive vibes for the sector to further accelerate towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat, thereby, promoting investment and employment opportunities. The provision to launch Urban Swachh Bharat 2.0 Mission of Rs 1.41 lakh crore over 5 years is laudable. It enhances India’s readiness for a healthy nation as well as broadens the business roadmap for various industries, including hygiene and cleaning. Overall, we believe that today’s budget is certain to impetus the country’s GDP in the coming days.”
Abhishek Trigunait, Global Chief Technology Officer at ZS: “It’s heartening to see the increased budget outlay of 2.23 lakh crore, with a whopping 137% increase from the last year. Additional healthcare spending of Rs 64,180 crore under PM Atmanirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana will enable Indian Healthcare ecosystem to plan better for curing new and emerging diseases.
The focus on public health is very visible with the setup of Integrated public health labs in every district and the goal to have 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centers. This will go a long way in increasing access at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, with focus on preventive and diagnostics-based healthcare for the masses. A key challenge however will remain in reaching this goal efficiently, keeping key quality targets in mind.
The spending on COVID of 35,000 crores, though expected, would go a long way in helping everyone deal with this pandemic and help India emerge stronger, reading to a speedy recovery.”
Rishabh Goel, CEO, and Co-founder, Credgenics: “The details of the bad bank and stressed assets cannot be revealed immediately during the budget, it will certainly ease the bad loan burden by taking over those assets and attempting recoveries. We see that the total stress in the banking system would be in excess of Rs 15 lakhs with limited capital and difficult to manage the NPA’s. For the bad banks, the Asset Restructuring and Management Company has been announced to be set up to resolve the mounting bad debt. Further for the resolution of bad debts, the NCLT framework has been proposed for further strengthening. Banks have been granted a little flexibility in setting delinquency measures from the lending perspective, though this is not as much restructuring as we would have expected to see. With more and digitalization in the focus, the litigation be it for longstanding tax disputes or delinquency will continue ‘faceless’ and be done through e-courts and Appellate.”
Anand Agrawal, CTO, and Co-founder, Credgenics: “Being a fintech and with the rising issue of unemployment, a boost to innovation and entrepreneurship was expected by us. Pertaining to our expectation, a promising feature is the focus on bringing up more startups and innovators by incentivizing One-person Companies, setting up a fintech hub, along with a tax holiday being announced for the startups for this fiscal year. Over 27 Lakh Crores of package has been announced with a vision for Aatmanirbhar Bharat. Though much was awaited and hopes are still up with the negotiations over the proposed plans coming up, the Budget announced by the Finance Minister shows the resilience of an economy where the government is still increasing the capital expenditure, whereas the reverse is usually expected during crucial times.”