PickMe CEO and Founder Jiffry Zulfer at Prarambh, India’s Startup International Summit speaking to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Two Sri Lankans were invited to attend ‘Prarambh’, India’s Startup International Summit held virtually on 15 and 16 January 2021. Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Namal Rajapaksa and PickMe CEO and founder Jiffry Zulfer, who was the only member from Sri Lanka’s business sector to be invited, represented the country at the summit which was attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.
The Prarambh summit brought together some of the world’s top minds onto a single platform, enabling government and international organisations to share views that would encourage and empower young innovators and entrepreneurs.
PickMe was recognised as a successful Sri Lankan startup which has expanded into a well-established organisation, and its founder CEO Zulfer Jiffry was given the opportunity to speak with PM Modi, and discuss Sri Lanka’s start-up culture. The ride sharing startup, which has now expanded to offer mobility of food and groceries, has proven to be a successful, responsible organisation, which came through for the country in providing all island services during the pandemic lockdowns. Zulfer says the summit opened up new thought processes and ideas as some of the best startup innovations were showcased during the multilateral sessions.
Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Namal Rajapaksa took to twitter, expressing his appreciation at being invited to attend, and extended his congratulations to the PickMe CEO on being selected as a panellist. The Minister tweeted, “Cultivating youth entrepreneurship through a Startup EcoSystem is the key to unlocking massive economic potential of Sri Lanka.”
Speaking of Sri Lanka’s startup culture the CEO of PickMe says, “India has the third largest startup ecosystem in the world. Given our size we don’t have to play catchup but it is a fact that Sri Lanka’s startup culture needs to take a more serious positioning. It is clear that the Government has recognised this, given all the initiatives taken to ensure digital adaptability. Going forward, this will no doubt create a healthy environment.”
Entrepreneurs from India, BIMSTEC countries and around the world, discussed the next wave of startup growth around the world, using the opportunity to pitch their products to a distinctive audience. Hosted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), the summit marks the fifth anniversary of ‘Startup India’ which was launched by Prime Minister Modi in 2016.
Recognising and acknowledging the impact startups have on the Indian economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the 1,000 crore Startup India Seed Fund, to help startup companies with the initial capital for growth. “Going ahead, the government will provide guarantees to help startups raise debt-capital. We are trying to build a startup ecosystem which functions on the ‘of the youth, by the youth, for the youth’ mantra,” the Prime Minister said.
The two-day summit was the largest conference since the launch of the startup India initiative, with participation from over 25 countries and over 200 global speakers. Panellists from BIMSTEC countries participated in the discussions that followed the inaugural session. Best practice sharing, seminars on information exchange, the multinational incubator network and promotion of social innovation were some focus areas. Cost effective satellite launch vehicles, apps that improve lives of the visually impaired, recyclable, biodegradable personal protective equipment (PPE) and mobile brick making machines were some of the other innovations that were pitched at the summit.
Potential for facilitating cross border venture capital investment, repatriation of capital gains without taxes, and harmonisation of regulations for greater cooperation among entrepreneurs, were topics that were taken up in the panel discussion that followed the inaugural session.
Prime Minister Modi, in his closing address, had stressed on the importance of futuristic technology and the cooperation of BIMSTEC countries. “This century is a century of digital revolution and new age innovations. And this century is also called the Century of Asia. And therefore, it is the need of the time that future technology emerges from Asia’s labs and future entrepreneurs are made from here.”