India’s G20 Presidency Puts Startups and Impact Unicorns at the Forefront of Global Agenda


India’s prestigious role as the President of the G20 forum in 2023 presents a remarkable opportunity for the country to shape the vision of the global economy and geopolitics. To leave a lasting legacy, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, renowned as the Startup Prime Minister, has established the Startup 20 Engagement Group within the G20 framework.

Traditionally, startups were part of the broader B20 engagement group, which represented the interests of global corporations. However, the inclusion of startups within the B20 limited their visibility and diminished their voice in the G20 platform. By establishing the dedicated Startup 20 Engagement Group, India aims to promote the cause of startups and align G20 policies to foster their growth.

The Startup 20 Engagement Group consists of three task forces: Foundation & Alliances, Finance, and Inclusion & Sustainability. These task forces work collectively to formulate a policy communique that incorporates best practices from around the world, including India. The objective is to shape the policy agenda for the G20, ensuring the creation of an optimal global ecosystem for nurturing startups.

India’s startup ecosystem holds immense potential and has much to offer the world. It boasts a vibrant startup community, the third-highest number of unicorns globally, and one of the fastest-growing startup ecosystems. According to the 2023 Hurun List, India is home to 138 unicorns, with a remarkable flywheel effect in place that fuels their growth. Between 2015 and 2022, India’s startup ecosystem witnessed a nine-fold increase in investments and produced its first Decacorn, demonstrating the transformative power of startups.

Beyond these impressive achievements, what sets India apart is its passionate pursuit of driving the entrepreneurial spirit to address complex social challenges. The country has diligently cultivated businesses that prioritize sustainability, equality, and ethics while aiming to impact millions of lives. Examples include Amul, a renowned Impact Unicorn, and government initiatives like the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) with UPI and the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), which have the potential to become disruptive impact unicorns.

India’s government-initiated impact unicorns have made significant contributions, paralleled by private entrepreneurs and investors who have built impactful businesses across various sectors such as microfinance, agriculture and agri-tech, waste management, water and sanitation, among others. This movement has led to the emergence of “Impact Investing” as a dedicated sector, managing assets worth USD 1 trillion worldwide. It inspires startups to address complex social challenges ranging from waste management to healthcare and education, thereby shaping the Impact Unicorns of the future.

As the Startup 20 Engagement Group seeks to influence the world, its central message could revolve around the concept of Impact Unicorns. These innovative startups hold the disruptive potential to address the Sustainable Development Goals and create a world free from hunger, poverty, and inequity by 2030. India’s inspiring journey in this domain can serve as a catalyst for global action, paving the way for a future where startups actively contribute to positive social change.

In conclusion, India’s presidency of the G20 provides a unique platform to prioritize startups and impact unicorns on the global agenda. By establishing the dedicated Startup 20 Engagement Group, India aims to amplify the voice of startups and align G20 policies to foster their growth. India’s vibrant startup ecosystem and its dedication to addressing social challenges through impactful businesses position it as an inspiration for the world. As the Startup 20 Engagement Group influences global policies, it can champion the concept of Impact Unicorns to accelerate progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and creating a better world for all.