The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Infosys and the National Entrepreneurship Network will conduct research on barriers facing women entrepreneurs in India.
The foundation, with the two organisations, also plans to help budding women entrepreneurs with networking and mentorship programmes.
Blair, former British prime minister Tony Blair’s wife, is in Mumbai for the ‘Women Mean Business’ conference to be held at Sahar’s Hyatt hotel on Friday.
Professionals from different sectors will discuss challenges and opportunities for women in various fields.
“The idea is to help women move beyond micro finance to entrepreneurship,” said Blair dressed in a churidar-kurta. “We plan to introduce special schemes and work with banks for financial products for women.” The barrister set up the foundation because she wanted to use the experiences she gained when her husband was PM.
“I gathered so many experiences when I was at No 10 [10 Downing Street, the British PM’s official residence],” she said. “It is because of my husband that I have a name and I wanted to use it to do something for women.”
Blair said that though the Indian government has schemes to ensure participation of women in business, the numbers tell a different story. “Research shows that micro financing mostly has women takers while start-ups and small and medium enterprises [SMEs] are male dominated,” she said. “Only 10 per cent of SMEs were run by women and only 17 per cent of these were registered.”
The 55-year-old said women across the world face cultural and practical barriers and that the glass ceiling still exists. “There has to be a way to enable women to strike a work-life balance without having to make all or nothing choices,” said the mother of four.
Blair believes that men and women need to be partners to progress.
“This is about gender parity not about one gender dominating over the other,” she said. “I know that I would not have achieved what I have without the support of men — my husband, senior lawyers — who took me on cases.”