New Delhi: Facebook-owned WhatsApp launched the ‘Startup India-WhatsApp Grand Challenge’ in partnership with Invest India to enhance the country’s entrepreneurial and small business community growth. The top five winners of the startup challenge are entitled to share a total of Rs 1.8 crore. The theme of the start-up as specified by WhatsApp can be related to healthcare, rural economy, financial and digital inclusion, education and citizen safety.

In a press release, WhatsApp reportedly said, “Entrepreneurs with highly innovative ideas, business models that solve for a local India problem, making a large scale socio-economic impact, are invited to apply.” The registration for the challenge is available till March 10, 2019. An independent committee would evaluate the applicants and 30 best ideas will be shortlisted. From the 30 best ideas, 10 best ideas would be selected to participate in the live pitch day for the grand finale. WhatsApp has further announced to provide a grant of $50,000 on May 24 to five winning ideas.

WhatsApp had announced its partnership with Invest India on October 31, 2018. The announcement was made in the presence of Commerce & Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu, Secretary of Industrial Policy and Promotion Ramesh Abhishek and Vice President of WhatsApp Chris Daniels. Minister Prabhu was quoted by a Times of India report as saying, “WhatsApp is a startup that has grown into a community and is an example of how an idea can grow to become an integral part of our day to day life [and]… that the Startup community is the future of India and will be the platform through which the millions of youth of this country will be gainfully employed.”

WhatsApp reportedly has over 200 million users in India and almost one million people are “testing” its payments service. India is one of the largest bases for the Facebook-owned company that has over 1.5 billion users globally.

(With Agency inputs)