For the first time, three startups that are promoted by Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs received funding from Tamil Nadu Startup and Innovation Mission (StartupTN) under the Tamil Nadu SC/ST Startup Fund.
Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Friday handed over sanction orders for investments to the tune of ₹9.75 crore in 8 startups through StartupTN and these tribal firms were among them.
The startup TAMS Tribal Green Fuel Pvt Ltd, promoted by Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs, is focussing on clean energy. Tribals from the Talavadi region in Erode district are setting up a biomass briquette manufacturing unit out of Lantana camara, an invasive weed that is destroying the forests in the region. This funding support will facilitate the manufacture of the lesser polluting fuel, improve livelihood opportunities in the tribal settlements and save the forests by deweeding.
Another startup, called Sholakar Tribal Creations Pvt. Ltd, focuses on rural livelihood. This tribal community company at Sholaghar, Erode district, will produce and engage in B2B trading of tribal products. The funding will help the company modernise and scale up its operations. The third startup is called Namsanthai Kotagiri Tribal Pvt Ltd. This tribal company from Kotagiri in The Nilgiris is looking to establish a company for trading tribal-produced coffee and honey. The funding will vary, depending upon the project needs of each startup.
Through this investment, in the form of Compulsorily Convertible Debentures (CCD), the government has become a shareholder in these companies. Tamil Nadu SC/ST Startup Fund, aimed at churning out inspirational stories that would spur the creation of more startups by entrepreneurs from the communities in the march towards Inclusive Mass Entrepreneurship, was announced as a ₹30-crore fund in the 2022-23 Budget. In the 2023-24 Budget, the corpus was increased to ₹50 crore.
StartupTN Mission Director and CEO Sivarajah Ramanathan said this was the first time tribal startups were getting funded. He said these startups would play a pivotal role in achieving Tamil Nadu’s $-1 trillion economy goal by 2030.
The Chief Minister also handed over cheques for the first trance of ₹1.25 crore in grants from Tamil Nadu Seed Fund (TANSEED) to 25 startups. These startups were given ₹5 lakh each and the second tranche of ₹5 lakh each will be handed over to them after they reach the targets set for them.
This takes the total number of TANSEED beneficiaries to 109. TANSEED, the flagship initiative of StartupTN, was launched by the government to support early stage startups with a seed grant of up to ₹10 lakh each.
The preliminary shortlisting of applications was carried out by StartupTN with the support of experts, followed by due diligence, interviewing and mentoring of the startup founders. The Project Sanction Committee approved the investments in these startups after after a detailed evaluation.