New Delhi [India], November 19 (ANI/ATK): Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is observed globally on the 19th of November every year in a bid to encourage and support women-led businesses and the spirit of women entrepreneurship in general.
The Government of India regards the promotion of entrepreneurship as a key mechanism for achieving its goals of sustainable socio-economic growth and employment creation, and the Government is currently placing special emphasis on supporting hitherto disadvantaged groups, especially women entrepreneurs across the nation.
However, in the context of women’s entrepreneurship in India, a Google-Bain report in 2019 estimated that women in India owned only around 20% out of all enterprises. In the backdrop of such a grim scenario of women’s entrepreneurship in our country, it is furthermore unfortunate that many of the existing women’s entrepreneurship-enabling programmes do not take into account the fact that social, cultural and economic realities of women may vary from region to region in a country as diverse as ours. But this is exactly where the Her&Now programme stands out!
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, is implementing the Indo-German project – ‘Economic Empowerment of Women Entrepreneurs and Start-ups by Women (Project Her&Now)‘, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and in partnership with the Indian Government’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MoSDE). The Project came to being in 2018 as a result of the shared visions and joint efforts of the Government of India and BMZ — one of the cabinet-level ministries of the Federal Republic of Germany, which is committed to helping the Indian Government nurture and empower the women entrepreneurship ecosystem through the country, and therefore has commissioned GIZ GmbH to implement the Her&Now Project in India. The ongoing Project has already extended support to over 600 women entrepreneurs from various parts of India, helping them transform their business ideas into enterprises and setting their existing businesses onto sustainable growth tracks.
Ullas Marar, Technical Advisor at Project Her&Now, GIZ, is a firm believer of entrepreneurship to alleviate poverty and uplift societies, and has been integral in designing support programmes for women entrepreneurs from tier II, tier III cities of India. He feels that till date, the Project has played an instrumental role in terms of “giving impetus to and empowering the women’s entrepreneurship ecosystem in the country”.
“Her&Now Project is running across various regions of India, in close association with local implementation agencies who are either non-profits or incubators. We have so far partnered with entities like Dhriiti (in North-East India), Startup Oasis (in Rajasthan), WE Hub (in Telangana), Mann Deshi Foundation (in Maharashtra) and Empower Foundation (in Uttar Pradesh), to ensure effective on-ground implementation of the Project. While we strictly maintain a sector-agnostic approach for selection of women entrepreneurs for our support programmes, from what we have noticed, most of the women entrepreneurs under the Project’s umbrella are operating in sectors like textile, handloom, handicrafts, arts and crafts, education and food processing. Through this Project, we are attempting to create a template of supporting and empowering these women entrepreneurs along with our partners, who shall continue to work for the betterment of the women entrepreneurship ecosystem in their respective states/regions, even after the Project tenure ends,” informs Ullas Marar, Technical Advisor, Project Her&Now, GIZ.
A large majority of the women entrepreneurs associated with Her&Now, i.e. around 90% of the entrepreneurs have managed to survive and continue running their businesses despite the uphill challenges posed by the pandemic – which is something, that according to Ullas, bears a testimony to the resilience of these women entrepreneurs as well as the “time-relevant” support provided by Her&Now. “Even before Covid happened, we at Her&Now, were through our programmes teaching women about digital inclusion and digital-readiness; this in turn equipped many of the Her&Now entrepreneurs, especially those from the North-East, to bounce back in their businesses easily after the initial months of the Covid-19 outbreak,” adds Ullas Marar.
Speaking the support programme, Ullas Marar further says, “One of our key priorities in the support programme is to build relevant skills and capacities of and for the women entrepreneurs and their enterprises – which enables them to become self-dependent, sustain and thrive in their businesses in the long run. It is heartening to see that many of the entrepreneurs associated with us are constantly growing in their entrepreneurial journeys, even demonstrating growth during the tough and uncertain times of Covid and becoming role models within and outside their communities and geographies. In what came as a pleasant surprise to us, women entrepreneurs from our previous cohorts in Rajasthan and Manipur have went a step ahead to develop deep strong peer-to-peer connections from the Her&Now programme, which eventually led them to form a collective/network of their own in these two states to continue supporting and promoting the existing and upcoming women entrepreneurs from their area.”
The Her&Now Project, which is running incubation and acceleration support programmes for India’s women entrepreneurs in several tier II and tier III cities, not only equips select women entrepreneurs with critical business skills, but also offers customized support through mentorship, access to market opportunities and peer networks, linkages to financial institutions, and much more.
Additionally, through the Her&Now media campaign (a critical component of the Project Her&Now), GIZ is seeking to raise awareness and steer mindset change on the positive contribution of women entrepreneurship for the Indian society and economy by showcasing the real-life stories of relatable role models who can inspire other women to become entrepreneurs/business owners.
Ullas Marar was interviewed recently (ahead of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2021) as a part of the Her&Now media campaign.
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