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Women Entrepreneurial Empowerment: Where’s the Wind Beneath their Wings?

Subhashree Dutta, Managing Partner, Social Entrepreneurship, The/Nudge InstitutePremium
Subhashree Dutta, Managing Partner, Social Entrepreneurship, The/Nudge Institute

Pragati enables women's entrepreneurial empowerment by supporting numerous women-led social impact organisations, such as Sajhe Sapne, Shakti, and Tisser that are furthering gender equity and creating large-scale livelihood opportunities for the bottom 30% of the economic pyramid

Women entrepreneurship is gaining importance in India in the current global economic conditions. According to McKinsey Global, India can potentially add $700 Billion to the Global GDP by increasing women’s participation in the labour force (Source). There exist many women entrepreneurs who manage and run successful businesses and social enterprises in India. These women entrepreneurs not only inspire others but also generate employment opportunities in the country. However, arange of barriers prevent women entrepreneurs from achieving their full potential. These barriers to success become harder to cross for women entrepreneurs running social impact startups. Fortunately, players are recognising this reality and creating opportunities enabling women entrepreneurs to create large scale sustainable social impact.

Women entrepreneurs bring their unique perspectives, their ability to make the most of the resources at hand, their multi-tasking abilities, passion, and can-do attitudes to their businesses. But being a woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry can be difficult. Her journey begins with being underestimated, and whilst her ideas and vision are on point, gender biases make funding and market opportunities to ground and scale their ventures hard to get. Access to funding, expert knowledge, and the proper network assistance can boost the potential of women entrepreneurs and drive them to the forefront of global entrepreneurship.

Daring to dream. Girls and Women at Sajhe Sapne’s centres that play the role of skill development and placement centres in village clusters
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Daring to dream. Girls and Women at Sajhe Sapne’s centres that play the role of skill development and placement centres in village clusters

Multiple public and private initiatives have created unique platforms to assist women entrepreneurs. Public programs such as theUdhyam Sakhi Portal for Women Entrepreneurs, theWomen Entrepreneurship Platformby Niti Aayog, theStart-up IndiaProgram, andSkill India, provide much needed support required to establish and scale their businesses. One such platform isPragati, an initiative by Meta powered by The/Nudge Centre for Social Innovation. Pragatienables women's entrepreneurial empowerment by supporting numerous women-led social impact organisations, such as Sajhe Sapne, Shakti, and Tisser that are furthering gender equity and creating large-scale livelihood opportunities for the bottom 30% of the economic pyramid.

Pragatirecognises that the number of potential women entrepreneurs in India is high. India’s economic growth has provided ample opportunities, coupling this with the required resources for growing and scaling impact is what is needed to support women entrepreneurs heading social-impact startups. Hence, Pragati sets out to solve the pressing issue of struggling women entrepreneurs working in the social impact space. The program discovers and supports early stage women-led nonprofits solving for women entrepreneurship and adoption of technology at the last mile.

Pragati offers women entrepreneurs 360-degree assistance during their entrepreneurial journey. The program’s three core benefits are:

  • Funding of up to Rs. 2 crore based on the type of organisation, maturity, and scale
  • Access to a powerful support ecosystem consisting mentors who have built large scale businesses and nonprofits or have worked deeply with the government, horizontal mentors on fundraising, legal and organisational capacity building; donors; and various tools and resources
  • A chance to be part of a community of leaders and changemakers working on livelihood generation for the bottom 30%. As observed in the previous cohorts of Pragati, this allows for collaboration and has a multiplier-effect on the impact

Pragatialso encourages and supports integration of technology in social impact work. For nonprofits, technology can play a key role in amplifying impact. It can be instrumental in increasing effectiveness of the work done at the front-end while supporting efficiencies at the back-end. Moreover, adoption of technology at the last mile would enable many more Indians in the bottom 30% to cross the digital divide. With Meta’s involvement in Pragati, organisations have been able to use technology to streamline operations and scale, and help many marginalised communities reap the benefits of technology.

After 2 successful cohorts, Pragati recently announced its 3rd cohort of women entrepreneurs - women working to solve complex developmental issues with the common theme of building resilient livelihoods for the women of India. The Pragati organisations work in a range of focus areas: upskilling rural and peri-urban women (Sajhe Sapne,Esther,Svatanya,IABT), reviving handicrafts resulting in the social upliftment of artisans (Tisser,Ekibeki), reducing malnutrition and improving mental health (FMCH), enabling technology for other nonprofits (Tech4Good Community), and even incubating other women-led businesses (Shakti - The Empathy Project).

The entrepreneurs in Pragatiare truly effecting change. The work of these incredible organisations proves that when offered the necessary avenues to grow, women entrepreneurs can pave the way for impactful change and make a remarkable difference in the lives of the people they are serving.

With a population of over a billion, India needs passionate social entrepreneurs who can help solve the pressing developmental challenges faced by the country. Supporting and nurturing women entrepreneurs can sustain our economy and provide livelihoods to many vulnerable communities. India can exponentially boost her economic potential and reach its Sustainable Development Goals only by unleashing the woman entrepreneur's powers.

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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