Women in social entrepreneurship get unified platform
To provide momentum to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, non-governmental organisation Action for India (AFI) launched a business accelerator programme Women in Social Entrepreneurship (WISE).
It aims at high potential women in social entrepreneurship, who are on their scaling journeys to becoming the next impact unicorns. The programme ignites the minds of the women social entrepreneurs through exploring, networking, funding opportunities, partnering and building new endeavours with AFI. It also offers extensive mentoring and handholding with choicest of leaders, through critically-designed learning spaces to grow their businesses through mentorship sessions, webinars and podcasts.
By reflecting upon the journeys of women social entrepreneurs in the past, AFI aims to bridge the gaps of opportunity of investment and accelerate through tailor-made interventions.
The concept of creating a Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) to promote and support established as well as aspiring women entrepreneurs in India was born at the Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted jointly by NITI Aayog and the United States government in Hyderabad in 2017.
It is the first-of-its-kind facilitation platform mandated to work in collaboration with public sector as well as private-run organisations and bring them on a single platform. It also enables sharing of best practices amongst women entrepreneurs and partner organisations and promote evidence-based policy making.
AFI’s founder president Sanjay Kadaveru said, “Despite passing through a challenging year, it was one of the most active and successful years for AFI. We launched quite a number of initiatives and programmes, pooling in the right resources bridging the gap for the social entrepreneurs. We are thankful to receive the grant from the eBay Foundation enabling us to get this into action.”
“There are a lot of accelerators around the world, but women in particular face unique challenges specific to them. Something that we endeavour to do is to design customised interventions that address the challenges faced by women social entrepreneurs to help them accelerate on their scaling journeys.”
Discussing the landscape of women entrepreneurship in India, Shanti Mohan, the CEO of Lets Venture highlighted that there is a gender disadvantage. “Looking at the Indian ecosystem today, there are about 30% women entrepreneurs and probably fewer of them are women founders; less than 5% are funded and around 1% are in the investing spaces. Seeing the macro scenario, we must address the fact rather than fight it, that there is a gender disadvantage. It has been a learning for me, that you must spend less time fund-raising and invest more time in building your business.”
She added, “We as women founders must take away the fact that we are going to be discriminated, when we go fundraising. As entrepreneurs we must be okay making mistakes and not always try being perfectionists. This is the best time to be an entrepreneur in India.”
The NGO welcomed its first cohort of five ‘WISEpreneurs’ from across sectors, including education, health, technology and livelihood.
The team comprises Shveta Raina, founder, Talerang, a platform that gets students and young professionals ready for their careers through high quality training, mentorship and access to internships and jobs; Neha Kirpal, co-founder, InnerHour, a mental healthcare platform; Akshita Sachdeva, co-founder, Trestle Labs, an initiative focussed towards empowering the visually-impaired community towards inclusive education, employment and content accessibility; Janhavi Joshi, co-Founder, Bleetech Innovations, a firm that works towards inclusion and accessibility for the deaf through different design and technological innovations; and Pooja Rai, founder, Anthill Creations, an organisation focussed on making sustainable playgrounds and bringing play and learning home to children who are missing school due to the pandemic.
The AFI programme strives to give impetus to women social entrepreneurs thereby positively adding to the social and economic development of the society to create a larger global impact.