12 Best Businesses to Start In Manipur 2024 → Top Ideas 💡

Nestled in the northeastern corner of India, Manipur, historically known as Kangleipak, is a state rich in cultural heritage and natural beauty. Often referred to as a ‘jewel of India' and the ‘Switzerland of the East', Manipur is a paradise for tourists, boasting lush greenery, a wealth of flora and fauna, and a vibrant cultural scene.

The state's economy is primarily agrarian, with significant potential for hydroelectric power generation. It also holds a strategic position as India's ‘Gateway to the East‘, facilitating trade with Southeast Asian countries through the town of Moreh. With a Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) projected to reach Rs. 451 billion (US$ 5.49 billion) in 2023-24, Manipur is on a steady growth trajectory.

As we delve into the 12 best businesses to start in Manipur, we'll explore opportunities that leverage the state's unique strengths, from its rich bamboo forests and handicraft traditions to its burgeoning IT and tourism sectors. Stay tuned as we uncover the entrepreneurial potential of this captivating state.

Top Industries in Manipur

Manipur, a state in Northeast India, is home to a diverse range of industries that contribute significantly to its economy. The state is renowned for its handloom and handicraft businesses, with a high number of skilled artisans producing unique and high-quality products that are in demand both within India and internationally. The bamboo industry is another key sector, with Manipur being one of India's largest bamboo-producing states. 

The state's rich natural resources also support a thriving eco-tourism industry, offering visitors a chance to experience its natural beauty while supporting environmental conservation. Small-scale manufacturing businesses play a vital role in the economy, producing a variety of goods including food items, textiles, and jewelry. Agriculture is another significant industry, with a large portion of the population engaged in farming activities. The state government is also making efforts to attract pharmaceutical companies and other small-scale industries to further boost the economy.

12 Best Businesses to Start In Manipur

Agriculture and HorticultureHandloom and HandicraftTourism
Information Technology and IT-Enabled ServicesBamboo and Forest-based IndustriesSericulture and Silk Production
Food Processing IndustryRenewable EnergyHealthcare Services
Education and Skill DevelopmentInfrastructure DevelopmentManufacturing and Small-scale Industries

1. Agriculture and Horticulture

Agriculture and horticulture are significant industries in Manipur, a state in Northeast India. The region's agro-climatic conditions are favorable for producing a variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, and spices, making it suitable for processing and potential export. 

Manipur's agricultural sector is characterized by a mix of settled farming in the plains and valleys, terrace cultivation in the hills, and shifting cultivation in the hill districts. 

The state government has invested in organic farming, which has become an important source of income for many farmers. Horticulture is another vital aspect of Manipur's agricultural landscape, with a potential area of 2,77,064 hectares identified for horticultural crops. Common horticulture crops grown in the state include Kharif vegetables, Rabi vegetables, spices, and fruits. Overall, agriculture and horticulture businesses in Manipur contribute significantly to the state's economy and provide livelihood opportunities for its residents.


  • Food Production: Agriculture is essential for human survival as it provides food, a basic necessity for life. It also supplies raw materials for various industries, including pharmaceuticals, textiles, and more.
  • Job Creation: Agriculture provides employment opportunities, contributing to economic growth and reducing unemployment rates.
  • Sustainable Practices: Horticulture, a subset of agriculture, often uses sustainable practices like intercropping, which can increase yield and improve soil health.


  • Environmental Impact: Both agriculture and horticulture can have negative environmental impacts, such as soil depletion, water contamination, and increased carbon emissions, especially when unsustainable practices are used.
  • High Initial Investment: Horticulture often requires a significant upfront investment for equipment, soil, plants, and other supplies.
  • Labor Intensive: Horticulture is usually labor-intensive, and working outdoors exposes workers to environmental hazards.

2. Handloom and Handicraft

The Handloom and Handicraft industry in Manipur holds a distinct place in India, being the largest cottage industry in the state. This sector has been flourishing since time immemorial, with women being the primary weavers. The state boasts about 2.71 lakh looms, and the intricate designs and fine silk items produced are in high demand both nationally and internationally.

The Manipur government has implemented policies to support this industry. For instance, all state government establishments and institutions are mandated to procure and use at least 50% of local handloom and handicraft products. The government has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Amazon to provide an e-market platform for traditional handloom and handicraft items, further expanding the market reach.

The industry has seen significant growth, with over 1.90 lakh looms carrying out production activities across the state.

However, despite its growth, the industry faces challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, lack of marketing support, and competition from the powerloom sector. To address these, the government has taken steps such as setting up handloom and handicraft emporiums in all 16 districts of the state.


  • Low Capital Investment: Handicrafts require relatively low capital investment as they are handmade and do not require heavy machinery.
  • Sustainability: Handicrafts often use natural materials, promoting sustainability and eco-friendliness.
  • Skill Improvement: The creation of handicrafts requires a precise skill set, and the process can help improve a person's skills.


  • Lack of Funding: Handicrafts often face a severe lack of funding, which can limit growth and expansion.
  • Low Productivity: Handicraft industries often struggle to compete with large-scale retail chains due to their limited scalability and productivity.
  • High Costs: Handicrafts are often more expensive than mass-produced goods, which can limit their market.

3. Tourism

Manipur, a state in Northeast India, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and cultural richness, making it a captivating destination for tourists. The state is known for its lush green meadows, rugged streams, waterfalls, aromatic tea estates, and a variety of languages spoken by its people. One of the most popular attractions in Manipur is the Loktak Lake, the only floating lake in the world. This unique lake is a sight to behold and offers a serene environment for visitors. Adjacent to the lake is the Keibul Lamjao National Park, the only floating national park globally, which is home to the endangered Sangai deer.

For those interested in history and architecture, the Kangla Fort stands as a testament to Manipur's regal heritage. The fort, with its ancient structures and surrounding moats, offers a glimpse into the state's past. The Manipur State Museum is another must-visit spot, housing a variety of artifacts, tribal items, ornaments, weapons, textiles, pictures, and sculptures that display the heritage of Manipur city.

Manipur's tourism industry has seen a significant increase in local visitor arrivals, with the number reaching 139,500 in 2022, up from 49,371 in 2021. 

However, recent incidents of violence have created a sense of uncertainty and safety concerns among tourists, leading to a decline in visitor numbers. Despite these challenges, the state government has shown a serious intent to promote tourism and investments, encouraging locals to start hotels and homestays to create livelihood opportunities.


  • Job Creation: Tourism creates jobs, reducing unemployment and contributing to economic growth.
  • Country Development: Tourism can help in the development of countries by providing funds for infrastructure projects like roads, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants.
  • Environment Conservation: Countries often conserve historical sites and natural landscapes to attract tourists, contributing to environmental conservation.


  • Environmental Damage: Tourism can lead to environmental damage due to waste and pollution accumulation, habitat destruction for infrastructure development, and unethical animal experiences.
  • Pressure on Natural Resources: Tourism puts pressure on natural resources, leading to issues like water scarcity, soil erosion, and damage to infrastructure.
  • Dependence on Tourism: Over-reliance on tourism can be risky, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic when travel restrictions led to significant economic challenges for tourist-dependent regions.

4. Information Technology and IT Enabled Services

Information Technology (IT) and IT Enabled Services (ITES) are rapidly growing sectors, playing a crucial role in driving economic growth and improving the lives of people. For instance, the state of Manipur in India has identified IT as a priority industry, aiming to establish itself as a hub for IT services in the North-East region. 

The state government is working towards enhancing tele-density, promoting digitization of MSMEs, and fostering continuous capacity building to create a skilled and employable talent pool. The IT industry has also been instrumental in facilitating work from home, e-commerce, and other relief-related services during the Covid-19 pandemic.


  • Production Growth: Technology supports several-fold growth in production. Machines can perform at a higher level, increasing production often. The tasks carried out by machines are more precise and flawless.
  • Time-Saving: Technology enables saving a lot of time and boosting productivity. Automation of tasks that are impossible for people to do helps save time.
  • Improved Services: Technology helps improve services. For instance, if a product breaks down, communication with the business or its customer service has become simple with just a phone call or email.


  • Difficult to Implement and Manage: IT service management can be difficult to implement and manage. If not properly implemented, it can lead to increased costs and decreased employee productivity.
  • Poor Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction: IT support staff may not have the necessary skills to properly manage the services being delivered. This can result in poor service quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Complex and Time-Consuming: ITSM can also be complex and time-consuming, which can lead to delays in service delivery.

5. Bamboo and Forest-based Industries

Bamboo and Forest-based Industries are significant contributors to the economy, particularly in regions with extensive forest cover. Manipur, for example, has over 77% of its geographical area under forest cover, with major forest products including timber, firewood, and bamboo. 

The state has about 3,268 square kilometers of area covered by bamboo forests, making it one of India's largest bamboo producing states. Three common facility centers for bamboo processing have been established in Manipur, and the government is building a Bamboo Technology Park with an estimated cost of US$ 104.3 million.


  • Sustainable: Bamboo is a renewable resource. Unlike many other trees, which can take decades to reach maturity, bamboo can grow up to four feet in just 24 hours.
  • Durable: Bamboo is one of the strongest and most durable materials on the planet. It has a higher compressive strength than concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel.
  • Efficient User of Water: Bamboo is a very efficient user of water. It can grow in areas with as little as 20 inches of rainfall per year and requires far less water than other crops, such as cotton.


  • Invasive: While bamboo forests are often praised for their ability to regenerate and rehabilitate degraded soils quickly, they can also be very invasive. When bamboo is grown in large plantations, it can crowd out other plants and animals.
  • Pests and Diseases: Bamboo is not fully immune to pests and diseases. For example, the bamboo caterpillar has recently become a problem in China.

6. Sericulture and Silk Production

Sericulture and Silk Production are traditional industries with a long history in many regions. In Manipur, sericulture is promoted as an industry to generate employment and alleviate poverty. 

The state ranks sixth in silk production in India, and the demand for traditional silk products continues to be high. In 2021-22, raw silk production in Manipur stood at 502 metric tonnes.

The state government has been promoting sericulture as a key to economic development, with the aim of increasing cocoon and raw silk production, thereby improving the living standards of the poor.


  • Luxurious Elegance: Silk is synonymous with softness, sophistication, and grandeur. It's exquisite qualities include a natural sheen, excellent drape, it's ethereal light weight and high absorbency.
  • Ethical Silk Production: There are animal-friendly silks where the fibre is extracted from the cocoons only after the moth has completed metamorphosis. This type of silk is less smooth or shiny than conventional silk but is more ethical.


  • Not Vegetarian: Unless it is a “Peace Silk”, it isn't a vegetarian fabric. The most desirable silk produced from the mulberry silkworm requires several thousands of silkworms to create just one pound.
  • Life Cycle Interruption: In conventional silk production, a silk worm's lifespan is cut short by immersing the cocoons in boiling water, thereby destroying the pupa inside. This is to ensure that the moth doesn't damage the silk cocoon and the resulting thread is continuous.

7. Food Processing Industry

The food processing industry in India has seen significant growth over the years, with processed food exports increasing from US$4.96 billion in 2014-15 to US$13.07 billion in 2022-23. This sector has achieved an impressive average annual growth rate of over 9% since 2014-15, indicating its strong potential and contribution to the Indian economy.

In Manipur, the food processing industry is rapidly developing, with a variety of fruits, vegetables, cereals, pulses, and spices suitable for processing and potential for export. However, the industry faces challenges such as low levels of processing, with only 1.5% for fruits and vegetables, and 0.5% for fish processing. Despite these challenges, the food processing industry in Manipur holds significant potential for growth and can create substantial employment opportunities, raise income levels, and transform rural India.


  • Improved Food Safety and Shelf Life: Food processing techniques can enhance the safety of food by eliminating harmful bacteria and extending the shelf life of products, reducing food waste and making food more accessible.
  • Removal of Pesticides and Toxins: Certain food processing methods can remove pesticides and toxins, contributing to safer consumption.
  • Fortification: Food processing allows for the fortification of foods with essential nutrients, which can help address nutritional deficiencies in populations.


  • Unhealthy Additives: Processed foods often contain high levels of fat, sugar, and salt, as well as additives with unclear health implications, which can contribute to unhealthy dietary patterns and chronic diseases.
  • Environmental Impact: The packaging of processed foods often involves exposure to plastic and synthetic contaminants, which can have environmental implications.
  • Altered Food Structure: Food processing can alter the cell structure of food, increasing the bioavailability of macronutrients and potentially leading to faster intake and slower satiety signaling, which can contribute to overeating and obesity.

8. Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is a crucial part of the global energy transition towards a more sustainable and resilient energy system. In Manipur, India, the installed power capacity was around 278 megawatts at the end of the fiscal year 2022. However, the demand for electricity in the region has been increasing, with a rise of approximately 2% in the fiscal year 2020. This growing demand presents an opportunity for the expansion of renewable energy sources. 

The transition to renewable energy not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but also creates jobs, improves public health, and provides energy security. However, the transition requires significant investment and policy support to overcome challenges such as intermittency, storage, and grid integration.


  • Sustainability: Renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, and hydro, are inexhaustible, making them a sustainable solution for energy needs.
  • Lower Maintenance: Renewable energy systems typically require less maintenance than traditional energy systems, saving time and money.
  • Cost Savings: Over time, using renewable energy can result in significant cost savings, as there are no fuel costs and operating costs are typically lower.


  • High Upfront Costs: The initial investment for renewable energy technologies can be high, although this can often be offset by long-term savings and various financial incentives.
  • Intermittency: Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are dependent on weather conditions, which can lead to intermittent energy production.
  • Geographic Limitations: The effectiveness of certain renewable energy sources can be limited by geographic factors. For example, solar energy requires ample sunlight, and wind energy requires consistent wind speeds.

9. Healthcare Services

Healthcare services are a vital part of any society, ensuring the well-being and productivity of its population. In Manipur, India, recent data reveals that out of 1000 population who availed services from public health facilities, 644 availed outpatient department (OPD) services. Interestingly, Manipur has one of the highest numbers of nurses per capita in the country. 

However, like many regions, Manipur faces healthcare challenges, particularly in the context of ongoing crises. These challenges require robust and resilient healthcare systems, capable of responding effectively to various health emergencies. Despite these challenges, the high number of nurses per capita in Manipur is a positive indicator of the region's capacity to provide quality healthcare services to its population.


  • Increased Access to Healthcare: In Manipur, the government has made significant efforts to improve access to healthcare services, particularly in rural areas. This includes the establishment of primary health centers, community health centers, and district hospitals. As a result, more people have access to essential healthcare services, which can lead to improved health outcomes.
  • Focus on Indigenous Healthcare Practices: Manipur has a rich tradition of indigenous healthcare practices. The government has recognized the value of these practices and has taken steps to promote and integrate them into the mainstream healthcare system. This not only preserves the region's cultural heritage but also provides alternative healthcare options for the population.
  • Healthcare Workforce: Manipur has a relatively high number of healthcare professionals per capita, including doctors and nurses. This can contribute to better patient care and improved health outcomes.


  • Infrastructure Challenges: Despite improvements, healthcare infrastructure in Manipur remains a challenge. Many rural areas lack adequate healthcare facilities, and existing facilities often lack essential equipment and supplies. This can limit the quality and range of healthcare services available to the population.
  • Insufficient Healthcare Professionals: While Manipur has a relatively high number of healthcare professionals per capita, there is still a shortage of healthcare professionals, particularly in rural areas. This can lead to longer wait times for patients and increased workload for existing healthcare professionals.
  • Healthcare Financing: The cost of healthcare can be a significant barrier for many people in Manipur. While the government provides some free and subsidized healthcare services, many people still face high out-of-pocket expenses. This can deter people from seeking necessary healthcare services.

10. Education and Skill Development

Education and skill development are the cornerstones of a thriving society. They harness the potential of youth, providing them with the tools to improve their employability and efficiency. Organizations like the Manipur Society for Skill Development collaborate with national agencies to optimize resources for rapid and sustained skill development. 

They conduct research and development in the sector to learn from innovative and emerging trends, thereby improving livelihoods. They also support projects on skill development in traditional and sunrise sectors, and evaluate existing training programs to make recommendations for improvement. This commitment to education and skill development is crucial in preparing individuals for the future and fostering a skilled workforce.


  • Skill training can lead to greater work quality. Strengthening employees' knowledge and skill sets can improve the quality of their work.
  • Skill training can increase employment opportunities. As industries evolve, new skills are required, and training programs can help individuals stay competitive in the job market.
  • Skill training can lead to personal growth and development. It can help individuals improve their problem-solving skills, creativity, and adaptability.


  • Skill training can be time-consuming and may require a significant commitment from individuals.
  • The effectiveness of skill training can vary depending on the quality of the training program. Not all programs provide the necessary skills or knowledge to improve job performance.
  • There can be a mismatch between the skills taught in training programs and the skills required in the job market.

11. Infrastructure Development

Infrastructure development is a key driver of economic growth and societal advancement. In Manipur, the government has invested heavily in development projects, propelling the region towards connectivity, infrastructure, sports, and organic agriculture. 

These projects, part of the Centre’s Act-East policy, include the state’s first Sports University and the Manipur Olympian Park, both of which are expected to inspire the youth and develop the region into a sports hub. Other projects include medical colleges, skilling and employment centers, and a fruit preservation factory. These initiatives not only enhance the region's infrastructure but also create jobs and improve the standard of living.


  • Infrastructure assets can generate inflation-protected income and have the ability to benefit from a combination of defensive fundamentals and structural growth drivers.
  • Infrastructure development can provide long-term sustainable cash flows and is thought to have low correlation with other assets and low sensitivity to swings in the economy and markets.
  • Infrastructure funds can be used to gain access to a particular sector or theme, such as global water shortages.


  • Infrastructure development is influenced directly by geopolitics. Changes in political or regulatory interventions can significantly impact infrastructure projects.
  • Infrastructure development carries various risks, including macroeconomic risks, construction risk, operational and management risk, and environmental, social, and reputational risk.
  • High inflation can cause pricing pressures and decreased returns for infrastructure players.

12. Manufacturing and Small-scale Industries

Manufacturing and small-scale industries play a vital role in the economy of Manipur. These industries, which include handloom and handicraft businesses, eco-tourism, and small-scale manufacturing, provide employment to a large number of people. The products manufactured by these businesses, ranging from traditional items like shawls and stoles to food items and jewelry, are of good quality and reasonably priced, making them a preferred choice for many consumers.

These businesses often sell their products through local markets, reaching a wide audience and selling their products at competitive prices. The small-scale manufacturing sector in Manipur is very diversified and covers a wide range of products, contributing significantly to the state's economy.


  • Small-scale production can provide more employment opportunities. As small-scale production is more labor-intensive, it can help reduce unemployment.
  • Small-scale industries require less capital to start, making them a viable option in areas where there is a shortage of capital.
  • Small-scale producers can maintain a close relationship with their customers, allowing them to cater to individual tastes and preferences.


  • Small-scale production can lead to a high cost of production per unit due to a high cost of labor, a very little scope for division of labor, and lesser use of machinery.
    Small-scale industries may not be able to make economic use of by-products, leading to wastage.
  • Small-scale industries may struggle to get loans, and if available, they may have to pay a higher rate of interest.

Contribution of cottage industries to the economy of Manipur

The cottage industries in Manipur contribute significantly to the state's economy and cultural heritage. Some of the key cottage industries in the region include handlooms and handloom products, village industries and weaving, small-scale industries and handicrafts, fisheries, silk farming, and tourism.

These industries provide employment opportunities, especially in rural areas, and help preserve traditional craftsmanship and skills. They also play a crucial role in promoting sustainable practices, using eco-friendly materials, and reducing environmental impact. Despite facing challenges such as limited access to capital and markets, Manipur's cottage industries have a promising future, buoyed by government support and opportunities in the digital age.


Why is the handicrafts and handloom industry a good business in Manipur?

The handicrafts and handloom industry in Manipur is a good business due to the rich cultural heritage, employment generation, and export potential.

What makes agriculture and horticulture a viable business in Manipur?

The favorable climate and fertile soil make agriculture and horticulture a viable business in Manipur.

How does the food processing industry contribute to Manipur's economy?

The food processing industry contributes to Manipur's economy by increasing processed food exports and creating employment opportunities.

Why is tourism a profitable business in Manipur?

Tourism is profitable in Manipur due to its rich cultural heritage, scenic beauty, and unique attractions.

What makes IT services a promising business in Manipur?

The growing digitalization and government initiatives to promote IT industries make IT services a promising business in Manipur.


To conclude, Manipur offers a diverse range of business opportunities that cater to its rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and unique strengths. Some of the best businesses to start in Manipur include agriculture, horticulture, handicrafts, handloom, tourism, IT services, healthcare services, education and skill development, infrastructure development, manufacturing, small-scale industries, bamboo and forest-based industries, and sericulture and silk production. 

These businesses not only have the potential to succeed but also contribute positively to the state's economic growth and community development. By tapping into these promising avenues, entrepreneurs can build successful ventures and play a part in the continued prosperity of Manipur.

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