Meghalaya wins top performer award for start-up ecosystem

Meghalaya received the accolade of Top Performer State at the National Startup Awards, 2022 held as part of the National Startup Day celebrations yesterday.

Having secured the position of Best Performer the previous year, the state continues on a sustained trajectory of developing its startup ecosystem.

This success is a culmination of the Chief Minister’s vison and leadership. Few years ago, Meghalaya was faced with two contrasting circumstances.

On the one hand the state was at the zenith of a demographic dividend with more than 72% of its population below the age of 35. On the other hand, there was a dearth of employment generating industries.

Being an entrepreneur himself, Mr Conrad Sangma took a set of innovate steps to convert the state’s sizable youth population into job creators instead of job seekers. He spearheaded efforts which materialized into the Meghalaya Startup Policy 2018. It was introduced with the objective of making the state “India’s leading startup hub by 2023”.

In pursuit of that target, the state government launched the PRIME (Promotion & Incubation of Market-driven Enterprises) program in 202o for building a startup ecosystem.

PRIME has been instrumental in catalysing the state’s startup revolution. Chief Minister’s E-Champion Challenge and the PRIME Incubation program are cornerstones of this effort. It is a recurring annual event through which promising youngsters are selected for pitching startup ideas in front of industry experts, successful entrepreneurs, and government officials.

The program currently supports about 5,500 entrepreneurs and more than 200 startups. Many of these have received seed funding and zero interest scale up loans.

A large number of incubation centres called ‘PRIME Hubs’ are currently being set up where new entrepreneurs are offered state-of-the-art workspace and supportive infrastructure for processing, packaging and value addition activities.

These PRIME Hubs also facilitate market access for the entrepreneurs to realize premium prices for their products in local and overseas markets.

Meghalaya has been witnessing the success of these market linkage strategies for well over a year now.

In December 2023, a large consignment of GI-tagged Khasi mandarins was sold during the three-day ‘Zest Fest’ held at Bangalore. Earlier in the year, world famous Kew Pineapples and Lakadong Turmeric from the state was exported to premium retail outlets in Middle East.

Recognizing Meghalaya’s matrilineal society, 20% of the funding support offered under the PRIME program is reserved exclusively for women entrepreneurs.

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