By: Kim Wales (NY) — 01/19/2015
India’s SEBI considers crowdfunding as an alternative to helping young budding businesses find funding. There are thirty-eight countries leading the advancement of policy reform to tackle the economic challenges in their homelands through initiatives like crowdfunding. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 motivated many nations to revisit their securities laws that involves entrepreneurs and small groups of people raising funds for their ventures through various online platforms involving individuals as well as organizations.
In countries like India, the regulatory commission SEBI is evolving guidelines in consultation with government for funding arrangements for start up and emerging growth companies.
At a seminar held by PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SEBI whole-time member Rajeev Agarwal said on Wednesday, “while it is still in a nascent stage in India, compared to large markets like the US, China and the UK, crowd funding is catching up fast especially in the wake of emergence of social media as a key platform for such activities.”
The market regulator had, in July last year, come out with a draft framework on crowdfunding. Under the proposed framework, the issuer entities and their promoters and directors would need to meet ‘fit and proper’ criteria of SEBI, while they can not use multiple platforms to raise such funds within a year, among other provisions that may prove beneficial to economy.
According to SEBI, there is a need for funding for SME through alternative sources as 2008 global financial crisis made it difficult for banks to lend money to the ventures or start-ups, which may have high risk element.
However, SEBI said there is possibility of systemic risk associated with crowd-funding as well as chances that investors could be defrauded.
SEBI whole time member on Wednesday noted that the finance minister made allocation to the extend of Rs 10,000 crores to extend funding facilities for SMEs and other splinter groups in the budget for 2014-15 “which has yet to be utilised for the desired purpose”.
“The government and SEBI are making guidelines for the utilization of this fund, especially for start up entrepreneurs,” Agarwal said.
He also assured that SEBI would continue to protect the retail investors and promote trading in SMEs on the exchanges within the existing guidelines but expressed inabilities of the regulator to broad-base policy measures in this regard.
However, Agarwal said that while the crowdfunding issues has been discussed by the international board of SEBI in detail, India may have to wait longer to bring in guidelines on the same.
“The subject has not even been debated in great details in advance economy such as US and Europe and that India should wait for some time before contemplating regulations and directives on the matter,” Agarwal said.