Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Realising women’s entrepreneurial aspirations: Initiative by NITI Aayog to foster women entrepreneurship in India

India’s startup ecosystem landscape is providing ample opportunities for women entrepreneurs to thrive. As we know that India has the world’s third-largest start-up ecosystem; male entrepreneurs still account for more in percentage than their female counterparts. But, from the last few years, this scenario is changing. Gone are the days when women were confined to domesticity. Evidently, we are witnessing a ‘New India’, and in this new India, various initiatives are being taken to enable more women-owned businesses across the country.

In a recent development, the government’s policy think tank NITI Aayog along with US-based multinational firm Cisco launched the next phase of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP).

Initiative to realise women’s entrepreneurial aspirations

Named ‘WEP Nxt’, the next phase of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) is aimed to utilise Cisco’s technology and experience working with India’s startup ecosystem in order to enable more businesses owned by women across India. WEP Nxt is a crucial step in this direction which is based on a focussed study of Indian women entrepreneurs and catering to their immediate needs across six key verticals including:

– Community & Networking

– Skilling & Mentorship

– Incubation & Acceleration programs

– Financial

– Compliance

– Marketing Assistance

WEP Nxt is fueled by evidence-based decision making which will ultimately work for the benefit of the startup ecosystem. Further, as a part of this initiative, Cisco, in association with the Nasscom Foundation, Sattva Consulting, and the DeAsra Foundation, will enable technology-led experiences and engagements in order to address various challenges that are faced by women entrepreneurs at individual and enterprise levels and in turn, will create new opportunities for growth.

During the launch event, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog said, “As per the Sixth Economic Census, women only constitute 13.76% of the total entrepreneurs, i.e., 8.05 million out of the 58.5 million entrepreneurs in the country. This may have been a missed opportunity in the past, but I am confident as the Government of India and the Private sector hold hands through initiatives such as the WEP, we will realise this vision of a new India – where men and women have equal opportunity to build and to share in the glory of achievement. WEP Nxt will further catalyze this movement and I am confident with Cisco as our partner, this technology platform will soon be the personalized guide for every woman entrepreneur in the country to realize her dreams “

The WEP-focused study suggests that up to 170 million jobs could be created by the year 2030, and the annual GDP of the country could rise by 1.5% if more women took up entrepreneurship.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform:

The idea behind setting up the WEP portal is to promote and support established businesses along with aspiring women entrepreneurs in India. The platform took seed formally on 8th March 2018. It is considered a first-of-its-kind, unified portal that aims to bring together women from various different backgrounds and subsequently offering them access to various support areas including:

– Incubation and Acceleration

– Entrepreneurship Skilling

– Marketing Assistance,

– Funding and Financial Assistance

– Compliances Support

– Social Entrepreneurship

This platform is mandated to work in association with the public as well as private sector organizations and bring them on a platform by providing them their women-focused schemes on entrepreneurship, initiatives, and programs. Along with this, the platform also enables and promotes best practices amongst women entrepreneurs and partner organizations.

WEP associations and partners:

With more than 30 partners across different industries and sectors, the platform has inked a Statement of Intent (SoI) with many partners who have committed deliverables towards WEP users. These partners include Atal Innovation Mission, CRISIL, SIDBI, FICCI, NASSCOM, Google, Facebook, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, CII, WEE Foundation, Nexus Incubator, MannDeshi Foundation, ShopClues, SEWA Bank amongst others.


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