Angel investors are a blessing for Indian start-ups
These successful entrepreneurs bring more than just money to the initiative. They come with their share of valuable connections and experience.
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"Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship. It drives everything: Job creation, poverty alleviation, innovation."
- Elliott Bisnow
Despite being a country with many communities traditionally dedicated to business and entrepreneurship, India still ranks low on comparative ratings across entrepreneurship, innovation and ease of doing business in the global order. The reasons are well-known, including our draconian regulations and time consuming procedures, against the backdrop of lack of support for research and innovation at higher education institutions. All these combined are a hindrance to entrepreneurial growth.
India is currently sitting on a huge demographic dividend. If it utilises this diligently, the young minds and their entrepreneurial spirit can be propelled towards creating not just a booming job market and a growing economy, but also a country of innovators and successful entrepreneurs.
Global economies, especially India, are poised for accelerated growth driven by entrepreneurship. The subcontinent, with a population of 1.27 billion, has to provide jobs to its ever increasing youth population (nearly 1.5 crore every year). For such large-scale employment generation, accelerating entrepreneurship and business creation is the key. Fueled by the IT revolution in the past 20 years, India has millions of technology-savvy people. Of these, at least 1 lakh are either aspiring, or established, entrepreneurs within the IT sector alone. Other sectors like retail, entertainment, healthcare, energy, and education, are also seeing an upswing in active entrepreneurship.
However, a lot of ideas never see the light of the day due to a capital crunch. To bridge this gap, what we need are angel investors - successful entrepreneurs who have made their fortune in business and are now looking to invest their money in start-ups. These investors bring more than just money to the initiative. They also come with their share of valuable connections and experience, which can be a blessing for start-ups.
Angel activity in India began in 2006. The angel investing market has witnessed a spurt in the last few years. Reportedly, Indian angels funded about $110 million in close to 280 deals last year. This is a good start, but more is always welcome.
According to a Nasscom report titled "Tech Start-up in India", India has a very bright future if the landscape continues to evolve at this pace. By the end of 2020, more than 11,500 start-ups are expected to come up in India. This would generate employment opportunities for almost 2,50,000 people.
With more than 3,000 technology/digital start-ups, India is the fourth-largest base for new companies. However, all this will work well if the government supports and promotes angel investing through appropriate fiscal policies and simplified regulatory structures.
Angels definitely expect a business-friendly Modi government that will encourage investments by providing for specific tax incentives, even if these may only extend to few chosen sectors. To say the least, angels, like everyone else, expect the government to vastly simplify procedures and reduce bureaucracy across the board, such as in the registration of companies, directorships, fundraise through convertibles (particularly for non-financial firms), filing of returns and their frequency and in any number of other areas of business.
The angel investing community has welcomed finance minister Arun Jaitley's move to bring changes to the Alternate Investment Fund (AIF) regime, their proposal to bring a new bankruptcy law and the new incubation fund while ruing the chance to correct the anomalies around Section 56 or angel tax. He has proposed pass-through status to all sub-categories of category I as well as category II of Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) governed by regulations of Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to streamline the taxation regime of AIFs. He has also proposed to allow foreign investments in AIFs keeping in view the need to increase investments from all sources. The current budget has focused on growth investment and job creation and laid emphasis on start-ups. The bankruptcy law being changed is also a big plus. The Rs 1,000 crore incubation scheme has been welcomed by the angel investment community.
However, a lot still needs to be done by the government regarding Section 56 or the angel tax. There has been no recognition of angel money by private investors. The finance minister has also overlooked service and excise taxes. While India has witnessed a boom in start-up businesses, thanks to e-commerce and other innovative ventures in the health and IT sectors, much more needs to be done in terms of not just promoting young talent, but also for creating a conducive atmosphere for both the investor and the new entrepreneurship to thrive.
The pro-business BJP government should work towards promoting both the small and large businesses that create jobs and build capital for the country.