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In Karnataka, Start-Up Ideas Spring Up from Villages & Small Towns Too

Geographical location long stopped being a determinant in a person’s progress if commitment, hard work and dedicated effort to reach the goal was strong. And in today’s world, when start-ups offer a possible livelihood and more, youth in Karnataka villages and small towns are coming up with ideas that have found investors and mentors.

While not all may succeed in hitting the big time, at least 15 youngsters from three districts of Karnataka have earned support in terms of seed money investment, training, mentorship and handholding for six months to see their idea turn into reality.

Whether it is making a degradable mask that grows into a plant or using Artificial Intelligence to detect diseases in crops to help farmers, or a designing a solar-powered two-wheeler for the physically challenged, or an affordable eggshell-based nutrition option to tackle protein deficiency, youth from the state came up with interesting and innovative start-up ideas that could work.

This is why, 15 out of the 3000 start-up ideas from youth in Raichur, Dakshin Kannada and Rural Bengaluru got seed money of Rs 1 lakh each, the help of a mentor and handholding of their start-up for six months as part of UNDP’s Project Code Unnati.

Over 3000 youth applied for the Youth Innovation Challenge and out of these, 1000 were shortlisted for an innovation boot camp.

One of the winners, Reena Edna D Souza, 27, from Dakshina Kannada, School of Social Work, was elated on securing the recognition for her idea and the help she is getting. “Entrepreneurs like us are most vulnerable when we are in the research and development stage. This is where we need financial and moral support to bring our ideas to life. The seed money and the mentorship from UNDP, SAP Labs and KSDC will help me scale my idea of making eco-friendly seed masks to minimise waste and course correct the ecological fall out of a use and throw culture,” she told DH. Her start-up idea was to manufacture and market an Eco-friendly Seed Mask.

It was based on the performance of the participants in the Bootcamp and the power of their idea, 305 youth were selected for district level pitch and from each of the three districts of Raichur, Dakshin Kannada and Rural Bengaluru five were declared winners of the Youth Challenge.

These 15 winners, including Reena, were felicitated on International Youth Day, at a function organised by the Government of Karnataka, UNDP and SAP Labs India.

Amit Kumar, who heads UNDP India’s Inclusive Growth said, “The UNDP-SAP partnership project, Code Unnati, is making continued efforts in three focus districts to recognise and spark entrepreneurial potential among youth. On this International Youth Day, with support from the state Government and KSDC, it gives us great satisfaction to fuel the dreams of young women and men whose innovative start-ups take on some of our most pressing concerns in sustainable agriculture, transport, pollution, and energy.”

A partnership between, UNDP, UN Volunteers, and SAP Labs India, Project Code Unnati aims at youth development that includes career guidance, skilling, apprenticeships, and nurturing youth-led innovations in three districts of Karnataka — Raichur, Dakshin Kannada, and Rural Bengaluru.

“It’s exciting to see the winning start-ups leverage the power of technology to address a wide array of grassroots problems with their distinctive products and solutions. We, at SAP Labs India, are thrilled at the opportunity to fuel entrepreneurship culture among the youth of Karnataka through the Code Unnati programme in partnership with UNDP and Govt of Karnataka. Over the last two years, our efforts have been aimed at propelling inclusive and equitable economic development, especially among rural youth and women by facilitating improved access to career guidance, employment, entrepreneurship opportunities, and fostering 21st-century skills. On the occasion of International Youth Day, it is deeply gratifying to see the impact Code Unnati programme has created to empower women and youth in the state,” said Ms Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP & MD, SAP Labs India.

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