Govt to encourage start-ups for elderly care

The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot, had recently launched the SAGE portal to encourage start-ups engaged in elderly care products and services.

Within two weeks of the launch of SAGE (Seniorcare Aging Growth Engine) initiative to encourage start-ups engaged in elderly care products and services, the government has received 400 applications, R Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Department of Social Justice, told The Indian Express Wednesday.

The Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, had recently launched the SAGE portal, in the presence of Ministers of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ramdas Athawale and Rattan Lal Kataria. The portal is designed to be a “one-stop access” of elderly care products and services by credible start-ups, and was opened for applications on June 5.

The start-ups will be selected on the basis of innovative products and services, across sectors such as health, housing, care centres, apart from technological access linked to finances, food and wealth management, and legal guidance.

Gehlot explained that the number of elderly people is steadily increasing in our country, and therefore, there is a need to keep in mind that the elderly should remain healthy and financially and physically active for which a Senior Citizen Welfare Fund was started in 2016. Taking this idea forward, the SAGE portal has been launched, with a view to help those who are interested in entrepreneurship in the field of providing services for elderly care. The portal is open for applications till June 30.

Upon the recommendation of the committee set up for the purpose, up to Rs 1 crore will be given to start-ups for elderly care. Selected companies would be supported by government equity participation of up to Rs 1 crore and showcased on the platform, developed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Athawale remarked that the government has taken up the responsibility of guardianship of senior citizens and elderly persons. Therefore, the ministry will continue to try to make new schemes for senior citizens and SAGE is an initiative in this direction.

Kataria stressed on the urgent need to create a robust eldercare ecosystem in India, especially in the post-Covid phase. An amount of Rs 100 crore has been assigned for the promotion of silver economy, the minister disclosed.

Subrahmanyam explained that the programme has been designed as per the suggestions of the Empowered Committee on start-ups for the elderly to solicit the involvement of youth and their innovative ideas for elderly care. “This will help in making the programmes for elderly care a national movement than just a government one,” he said.

An allocation of Rs 25 crores has been made for the SAGE project in the current financial year.

The government will act as a facilitator, said Subrahmanyam, enabling the elderly to access the products through these identified start-ups.

India’s elderly population is on the rise, and as per surveys, the share of elders, as a percentage of the total population in the country, is expected to increase from around 7.5 per cent in 2001 to 12.5 per cent by 2026, and surpass 19.5 per cent by 2050.

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