Estonia is popularly being called ‘The Startup Hub’. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Estonia, a former part of it, invested heavily on the internet and upcoming new technology. This brought Estonia the name ‘Silicon Valley of Europe’.
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Estonia has many firsts to its credit:
By adopting the internet in every walk of life, Estonia has excelled and achieved wonders. In Estonia, you can do many things online: pay taxes, set up a business, file complaints, claim tax returns, and so on. You can establish a business in 15 minutes and file taxes in 3 minutes in Estonia. Their e-governance initiatives like the e-residency programs flourish without any bureaucratic intervention. Estonia enjoyed an ease of doing a business ranking of 12 in the year 2017.
Estonia provides an almost perfect environment for start-ups to flourish:
Recently, Estonia even made it possible to open a bank account without even approaching a bank. You don’t even have to be in Estonia.
To attract businessmen from all over the world, Estonia has launched its own Startup Visa. This visa allows:
Estonia’s e-residency program was launched in December 2014. Currently, Estonia has over 30,000 e-residents from over 154 countries. Estonia also plans to launch a digital nomad visa in this year.
Estonia’s e-residency program is a government-issued digital identity given to entrepreneurs in order to run businesses. These businesses can be run by the founders from any part of the world.
India has the third largest startup base in the world (2016 report by NASSCOM) after the U.S. and the U.K. This is evident in the fact that startups in India are thriving. Estonia wants to tap India’s startup potential.
With the slogan “Make in India and Sell in Europe”, Estonia opened the e-residency program for Indian startups. Through this program, Indians can get access to the entire market of the European Union. The e-residency program aims to enrol 200 Indian startups. By opening doors to Indian entrepreneurs and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) talent through the e-resident visa, economic ties between Estonia, India and Europe will go to the next level. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, is eyeing setting up a subsidiary for Reliance Jio in Estonia and capturing the European market.
This is a great program for Indians because setting up the business is cost-effective and also, it can be run from anywhere in the world. The costs of applying for e-residency and registering of the company, costs around 100 Euros and 190 Euros respectively. Also, difficulty in procuring the U.S. Visa has made this program attractive.
Early in March this year, Estonia’s Entrepreneurship and IT Minister Urvi Palo attended a seminar in Mumbai and announced the plan. She said she was here to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries. She also highlighted the digital society of Estonia. She said that through this program, people of India can become virtual residents of Estonia and carry out businesses and expand them throughout the EU.
At present, over 1,200 Indian citizens are e-residents of Estonia. According to IT Minister Urvi Palo of Estonia, the Baltic country lacks ICT human resource. Knowing that India has huge ICT talent, Estonia reached out to the Indian startup community through seminars and road shows.
To make services paperless and easily available, Estonian officials have been talking with their Indian government counterparts to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the local government and Estonia’s IT Academy, to provide knowledge on e-governance.
While the country has strict emigration policies, there is no limit on the number of people coming to work in the ICT sector.
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