India has become a hub for start-ups in recent years, with an increasing number of entrepreneurs turning to the start-up ecosystem to build their businesses. Start-ups play a vital role in driving innovation, job creation, and economic growth. However, the entrepreneurial journey is riddled with uncertainties, and not all start-ups succeed. In India, bankruptcy policies and procedures serve as a safety net, providing a structured framework to address financial distress and failure. This article aims to explore the significance of bankruptcy policies and procedures for Indian start-ups, highlighting their role in mitigating risks and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship.
What is Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy, as defined by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) of India, refers to the state of financial distress in which a company is unable to meet its financial obligations to creditors. The IBC, enacted in 2016, introduced a comprehensive framework for insolvency and bankruptcy proceedings in India. It replaced several outdated and fragmented laws, streamlining the resolution process and promoting a more efficient and transparent ecosystem for distressed businesses.
Rescue Mechanisms for Start-ups
Recognizing the unique challenges faced by start-ups, the IBC introduced a special provision called the “fast-track process” for small companies, including start-ups. This provision expedites the resolution process, offering a time-bound mechanism to address financial distress. Under the fast-track process, the resolution plan needs to be approved within a maximum period of ninety days, ensuring a swift resolution for start-ups and minimizing disruptions to their operations.
Data from the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) indicates that as of September 2021, a total of 16,270 corporate insolvency cases have been filed since the implementation of the IBC. These cases involve businesses from various sectors, including start-ups, and demonstrate the utilization and effectiveness of the bankruptcy procedures in safeguarding stakeholders’ interests.
Filing for closure
When a start-up decides to shut down its operations, it must follow the legal process of filing for closure. The process of closure depends on the type of company the start-up is registered as. The following are the two most common types of companies in India and their respective processes of closure:
Filing for bankruptcy
If a start-up is unable to pay its debts and is insolvent, it can file for bankruptcy. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) provides a comprehensive framework for the insolvency and bankruptcy process in India. The process of filing for bankruptcy under the IBC involves the following steps:
Government schemes for failing start-ups
The Indian government has launched several schemes to support failing start-ups. The following are some of the schemes that failing start-ups can utilize:
Several success stories have emerged where start-ups have been able to bounce back from financial distress by leveraging the bankruptcy resolution framework, preserving jobs and nurturing a culture of innovation. Bankruptcy policies and procedures can provide a safety net for Indian start-ups that are facing financial difficulties. By allowing businesses to restructure their debts or liquidate their assets, bankruptcy laws can help to prevent the complete collapse of a start-up. These policies not only protect the interests of creditors but also promote a culture of entrepreneurship by enabling failed start-ups to restructure, recover, and contribute to the economy.
It is important for start-ups to be aware of their legal options and utilize government schemes to ensure a smooth exit. Failing start-ups can utilize government schemes such as the Start-up India Seed Fund Scheme, CGTMSE, and Atal Innovation Mission to overcome financial difficulties. The Bankruptcy Code, 2016 has also had a positive impact on the Indian start-up ecosystem by providing a safety net for businesses that are facing financial difficulties, and is proving helpful in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in India.