As one of the top performers of the Indian State Startup Ranking Framework, Kerala has had one of the most progressive startup culture in the country. The state has now taken another step towards boosting funding for startups and has collaborated with Unicorn India Ventures, Exseed Electron Fund, Indian Angel Network and Speciale Incept Fund for an investment of more than INR 1,000 Cr ($139.6 Mn) in the state startups over the next four years. The announcement was made by M Sivasankar, secretary, Kerala electronics and IT department during the fourth edition of Seeding Kerala which was held in Kochi on January 5.
Ernakulam: Gazing at apartment complexes coming up amid the greenery from a high-rise in Kerala’s Ernakulam where he is at work, Tasleef Ali smiles: “Without Kerala, I won’t survive." Clad in jeans and a white shirt, the carpenter, in his 30s, beats the stereotype of a distress-migrant-turned blue-collar worker, although he is a migrant who came to Kerala looking for work. Growing up as a carpenter’s son in Western Uttar Pradesh, Ali hated carpentry. Despite working long hours, his father was barely able to make ends meet. Ali would help his father after school so he could continue studying till Class XII. At 16, he left his village in Moradabad for a job, joining thousands of others in a part of the state that has seen several communal riots. Like many of them, he eventually arrived in Kerala, where the number of locals leaving for foreign countries is matched by those moving in from other states. While about three million Keralites work in Gulf countries, an estimated 2.5 million people from outside the state fill the gap in the local workforce, gaining from the state’s booming consumer economy. Ali has done so well as a migrant worker that he does not want to return to his village. “Daddy had to work really hard; for me it has become very easy," he says. “The main part is that we now have several tools that have reduced physical work. All the work involves technology; so, if the power goes off for some time, we are practically jobless." In Kerala, migration to the Gulf changed the local landscape, economy and lifestyle, with swanky houses springing up everywhere. The building boom, in turn, boosted demand for skilled carpenters like Ali, who tied up with local architects and engineers for bulk contracts. After three years in Kerala, Ali called 25 of his young neighbours from the village amid a rising demand for workers in the state. “The pay is quite good here. I’m managing a team of eight people and learning new things every day. I also renovated my parents’ house, and I’m also building a second house for myself. In my childhood, I would have thought it impossible to do all of these with just carpentry," Ali says. As long as he can do carpentry, he says, his children will be saved the undernourishment and overwork he had to face as a child.