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Pragati - Women Breaking Barriers to Improve Lives & Livelihoods

Women artisans working on Warli art on coffee mugs at a Tisser centre. Tisser works on social upliftment of rural clusters by skilling women and reviving handicrafts.Premium
Women artisans working on Warli art on coffee mugs at a Tisser centre. Tisser works on social upliftment of rural clusters by skilling women and reviving handicrafts.

Having supported 10 organisations in the past 2 Cohorts and now 8 more in the newly announced Cohort 3, Pragati inspires more women-led non-profit organisations to participate in the collective endeavour

Pragati, an initiative by Meta powered by The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation, empowers women entrepreneurs to improve the livelihoods of under-resourced and vulnerable communities in India with a focus on women. Having supported 10 organisations in the past 2 Cohorts and now 8 more in the newly announced Cohort 3, Pragati inspires more women-led non-profit organisations to participate in the collective endeavour. Subhashree Dutta, Managing Partner, Social Entrepreneurship at The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation, reveals Pragati’s endeavours with their third cohort, and her thoughts on today's women entrepreneurs. 

What was the idea behind starting Pragati? What are the vision and goals associated with Pragati?

We have seen that India’s rapid economic expansion has created ample livelihood opportunities. However, low literacy and skills among the disadvantaged sections prohibits them from accessing the same. Our team also recognised that we have innumerable talented women entrepreneurs who wish to be changemakers and support those sections to find employment opportunities and thrive, but when it comes to converting their dreams to reality, they encounter many hurdles. The most common ones are a lack of knowledge about running enterprises, insufficient funds to grow, technology challenges, and absence of active social networks.

Hence, Pragati was born with a vision to partner with social-cause-driven she-entrepreneurs, enabling them to overcome the challenges faced in uplifting the livelihoods of under-resourced communities at scale. 

Apart from the grant (upto 50 lakhs in the first year) that start-ups receive when they are selected to be a part of the program, Pragati offers entrepreneurs a nurturing ecosystem of tools, resources and network. This includes hands-on mentorship from renowned experts and industry leaders, fundraising support through courses in fundraising strategy, and organisational capacity building to strengthen the second level of leadership within the nonprofits. Most importantly, organisations and founders join a community of exceptional leaders and get access to a network for further support. 

Pragati has witnessed multiple women-led non-profit startups succeed. How has the experience been?

The experience has been inspiring and humbling. We are amazed to witness the passion and drive of these women entrepreneurs. They are operating at the grassroots and are deeply entrenched within the communities that they are supporting. With the much-appreciated support by Meta, the collective impact of Pragati organisations is deep and strong.

We offer Pragati as a program wherein women entrepreneurs can share the problems they wish to solve, receive guidance from distinguished strategic mentors, and engage with like-minded people who can add value and achieve common goals. We are looking for women entrepreneurs with a DNA of speed, scale, and innovation that we believe is required to bring about catalytic change. 

What are your learnings and reflections from the past cohorts of Pragati?

We believe in the power of technology to unlock solutions to improve the quality of life at the bottom of the pyramid. Our Pragati organisations are a proof of this.

Tech4Good Community empowers nonprofits & change makers leverage technology to amplify social impact. It has built a unique platform OTTER that allows 850+ NGOs to access tools and mentorship for top tech firms.

We believe that young women in India can be inspired to aspire for more. Sajhe Sapne is ensuring that the most marginalised rural women can launch their careers in the modern workforce engaging in professions such as web development and educational content creation. 

Creating agency is one of the focus areas of many interventions. FMCH aims to sustainably manage the burden of preventable malnutrition by developing resilient mothers & healthy children through an ecosystem of support in the first 1000 days. They aim to create resilient agency in women about health and nutrition for themselves and their children and have reached over 500,000 families since their inception.

What do you look forward to with the next livelihoods-focused cohort?

We are looking forward to unlocking the true potential of collaboration in our cohort. Even from our kick-off bootcamp for Cohort 3, we saw founders across sectors coming together and sharing ideas. Pragati is a powerful program which allows like-minded women entrepreneurs to interact with each other and collaborate. 

Pragati is sitting at a very interesting intersection of women entrepreneurship and women livelihoods. The founders not only have to work past the challenges of running a social impact startup as a woman, but they also have to eradicate very difficult barriers in the reality of the under-resourced communities they work with, as they build solutions for women in these communities.

There is a need to have active conversations around this and also a need to demonstrate the potential of solving these challenges. 

We are looking forward to enabling more conversations around the power of women’s entrepreneurship. Our plan with our third cohort is to build a stronger ecosystem with wider connections, better technology, mentorship and fundraising support. Our aim is also for Pragati to be a beacon for change around attitudes towards gender and technology, and encourage many more women to take up entrepreneurship to uplift the livelihoods of most under-resourced Indian communities at scale.

Disclaimer: This article is a promotional feature and does not have journalistic/editorial involvement of Hindustan Times. Hindustan Times does not endorse/subscribe to the content(s) of the article/advertisement and/or view(s) expressed herein. Hindustan Times shall not in any manner, be responsible and/or liable in any manner whatsoever for all that is stated in the article and/or also with regard to the view(s), opinion(s), announcement(s), declaration(s), affirmation(s) etc., stated/featured in the same.

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