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DPIIT’s ONDC Mahotsav: Empowering India’s Startup Ecosystem

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In a significant milestone, India’s Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) organised the inaugural ‘ONDC Startup Mahotsav’. This event served as a pivotal moment in India’s digital trajectory, merging two flagship initiatives of DPIIT – the Startup India initiative and the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC).

Secretary Rajesh Kumar Singh, leading the proceedings, underscored the government’s steadfast commitment to nurturing startup growth and innovation within the country’s burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The ONDC Startup Mahotsav attracted a diverse cohort of over 5,000 startups, congregating in a hybrid mode to explore the transformative potential of the ONDC platform. Among the attendees were more than 125 prominent ecosystem stakeholders, including established unicorns and high-growth startups. These industry players collectively signed Letters of Intent (LoI) during the event, showcasing their keen interest in leveraging ONDC to revolutionise digital commerce in India.

Joint Secretary Sanjiv emphasised the strategic vision of fostering continuous collaboration between startups and the ONDC platform. With over 125 startups committing to onboard ONDC, the event served as a testament to the palpable excitement and momentum surrounding this national initiative.

The Managing Director & CEO of ONDC, T. Koshy, hailed the ONDC Startup Mahotsav as a watershed moment in India’s digital transformation journey, affirming the platform’s role in empowering startups to redefine e-commerce paradigms.

At the core of the event’s agenda was the convergence of ONDC and the Startup India initiative, aimed at onboarding more than 500 thousand sellers onto the platform. Notably, over 70% of these sellers are small or medium-sized enterprises, underscoring ONDC’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and equitable growth.

Insightful panel discussions delved into various facets of digital commerce, exploring themes such as ‘Building a Collaborative Future of Indian E-Commerce’ and ‘Driving Startup Growth through ONDC.’ Distinguished speakers from diverse backgrounds, including industry stalwarts and government officials, shared their insights on leveraging ONDC to drive innovation and stimulate startup growth.

The government’s unwavering support for entrepreneurship was evident through initiatives like Startup India and ONDC. With over 130 thousand DPIIT-recognised startups operating across 55 sectors, India has emerged as a global hotspot for entrepreneurial activity, creating over 13 lakh direct jobs in the process. Launched in 2021, ONDC aims to level the playing field for all e-commerce players, particularly small-scale businesses, by democratising access to digital commerce infrastructure.

The Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) aims to involve all sectors to benefit from online commerce and the digital economy. By welcoming diverse participation, ONDC democratises access to digital opportunities, empowering businesses of all sizes to thrive in the digital marketplace. In April 2024 alone, ONDC facilitated approximately 7.22 million transactions, signalling its potential to drive digital commerce and spur economic activity comprehensively and inclusively.

OpenGov Asia reported that Fair Price Shops in Himachal Pradesh’s Una and Hamirpur districts have achieved a milestone by being the first to join the ONDC. This initiative aims to streamline FPS operations, boost dealer income, and enhance beneficiary satisfaction, marking a crucial step towards digital transformation in traditional retail. ONDC empowers FPS dealers by granting them visibility in the digital marketplace, access to a broader customer base, and competitiveness with larger retailers and e-commerce platforms.

The collaborative synergy between startups and ONDC exemplifies the power of public-private partnerships in fostering innovation and driving economic growth. This broad approach fosters economic growth and enables sectors ranging from retail to manufacturing to leverage online platforms for innovation and expansion.

As India navigates its journey towards self-reliance, initiatives like ONDC play a pivotal role in empowering startups and unlocking new avenues for market expansion and discovery, laying the groundwork for a vibrant and inclusive digital economy in India.

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