Govt helping start-ups get off the ground in Bastar

Think B has been set up to help budding entrepreneurs get funds for their ventures. A report by Deepanwita Gita Niyogi

Bastar is undergoing a makeover. Once infamous for Left-wing extremism, at present development initiatives are taking place in tourism and skill development. The main focus of the district administration is on youths. While young people in rural areas are acting as tourist guides, educated ones are being inspired to become entrepreneurs.

The idea has given birth to Think B which will ensure that start-ups in Bastar get access to funds, guidance and knowledge. An office space has been provided in district headquarters Jagdalpur. This is to bring all start-ups at a single place.

Memorandums of Understanding have been entered into with institutes like the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and the Indian Institute of Management, Raipur, as well as the Hidayatullah National Law University and the International Institute of Information Technology based in Naya Raipur.

“Experts from these places will help budding entrepreneurs run their start-ups and help them come up with new ideas. These institutes will also try to bring funds for more start-ups through investors. TISS will carry out monthly visits,” said Ayush Srivastava of Lokabazar, a start-up which promotes the artisans of Bastar by bringing them under a single platform.

Fuelling creativity

Today, Think B has many entrepreneurs like a youth who has started a home food delivery service by involving homemakers, another who is trying to promote the cultivation of essential oils in Bastar, someone working on the concept of virtual reality and a trio offering mechanic services.

The main aim behind Think B is to inspire more start-ups in future. According to Abhishek Chandrakar, who has joined Think B and is part of the team for overall management, all start-ups would receive guidance and given tasks to perform. While the national law university and the Indian Institute of Management would provide technical help, TISS would carry out monthly visits.

The Think B office was inaugurated by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in November last year. “Those associated with start-ups can come here and work. The office space would be used for meetings and reviews,” Chandrakar said.

Brilliant ideas

Manoj Kumar Sahu has been successfully running Mom’s Food and Services in three districts of Chhattisgarh for the past three years. On his part, Sahu has engaged housewives who cannot come out of homes and display their culinary skills. Today, his start-up serves all kinds of food and has 200 women registered from all over the state. Customers can view items and place orders through the website. Sahu’s initial investment was a meagre Rs 33,000.

“I got a call from the district administration to be part of Think B. The women who prepare the dishes are offered 30 to 40 percent of the profit margin,” Sahu said. The idea behind the venture was born out of a personal necessity. Sahu, who lived away from home for years, did not get healthy food and thus wanted to do something to serve others like him.

Relatively new on the scene is Kishan Baghel, an agriculture student, who supplies fruit juices, shakes and salads to gym goers. His start-up Bastariya Kisan started four months ago and is his solo venture. For this purpose, Baghel rented a house and bought a bike to help him in his deliveries. At present, he serves 40-50 customers by delivering whatever they need at gyms. The investment is negligible as he has to purchase only fresh ingredients and boxes for packing the items. He started with the delivery of sprouts and later went on to include shakes and juices.

Ritesh Kumar runs 36 management, a start-up on finance and management, launched in 2017. As he got tired of constant transfers, his friend suggested a start-up through which financial and marketing consultancy services are offered to customers. As part of Think B, Kumar expects legal and technical support.

Chetan Kumar, with two other partners, offers mechanic support through his brand Apna Mechanic. They launched in December 2020 in Hyderabad and later expanded to Chhattisgarh. Besides serving customers, his company is also training youths to ensure that they get pocket money, along with learning the basics. Customers can book services through a toll-free number.

Different from the rest is a start-up being run by Pranjal Mishra by the name of Zillusion Studios as he thinks the future would be driven by 3D and virtual reality.

There is one agripreneur among all. Hritvik Chaubey has started the soil to oil project under which he is running a varietal trial of seven essential oil crops like vertiver and lemongrass by engaging Bastar’s farmers through his company Aruvik Greens. Under this, farmers are being trained free of cost right from plantation to distillation processes.

The central government is keen on promoting start-ups with Prime Minister Narendra Modi terming them as the “backbone of new India”. It has been decided to celebrate January 16 as the national start-up day to inspire youths across the length and breadth of India.