For most entrepreneurs, getting financial assistance is the biggest hurdle when starting a new business, but for women, obstacles are many. For one, there is a visible investment diversity gap in the Indian startup ecosystem.
According to MAKERS India’s ‘State of Women in Tech Entrepreneurship in India’ report, startups founded and co-founded by women account for less than 6% of total investments infused into the Indian startup ecosystem, and only-female founder(s) accounted for around 1.43% or $480 million (across 80 deals) of the total startup investments in India, between January 2018 and June 2020.
Also, socio-cultural norms and biases make it harder for women to move ahead in their entrepreneurial journeys. However, there are some accelerators and incubators by private players that are tailored to cater to women entrepreneurs, and handhold them to help realise their dream. Let’s take a look at some of them.
To make Diversity &Inclusivity (D&I) – a topic that is gaining importance globally - a reality, empoWer was established in 2016 by Zone Startups India. It is India’s first tech accelerator for women entrepreneurs that provides mentorship, industry connections, peer network, and investor meets through a six-week accelerator program, followed by a one-year support program.
In the last 4 years, 79 women entrepreneurs have been a part of four cohorts and two bootcamps at empoWer. They have disbursed Rs.2.5 crores in grants, and even after the program, several startups have received further funding that comes to a cumulative Rs 72 crore.
Established in 2018, W-INcubate is Bengaluru’s first incubation centre for women entrepreneurs. This incubation centre provides support when it comes to networking, mentorship to even ideating. W-INcubate’s vision is to help growth-stage and early-stage startups by offering guidance on all areas, be it marketing, branding, hands-on help and workshops with industry leaders. WSquare also offers office space for up to a year, and access to seed funding.
This is the first virtual incubator for women in India, and was launched in 2014. According to their website, it is an initiative to help women entrepreneurs to grow local economies by providing business education, training, mentoring and networking. Womennovator also helps women entrepreneurs gain new revenue contracts through interaction with industry leaders, as well as provides visibility through their YouTube channel.
Women’s Business Incubation Program
In addition to helping launch and grow digital businesses led by women entrepreneurs, this incubation program provides office space, digital engagement, mentorship, as well as provide opportunities for networking with industry leaders. Besides, there are also classes held on entrepreneurship and fundraising. They also have a physical co-working space on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram, with all the basic amenities.
Pernod Ricard’s WE Social Impact Incubator for Women Social Enterprises
French company Pernod Ricard, in collaboration with Social Impact Incubator for Women Entrepreneurs at IIM Calcutta Innovation Park, has launched this program to help women entrepreneurs realise their dreams. The 8-month program supports up to 12 startups which are selected as incubatees. Up to 15 other startups are also selected as Fellows. Each of the incubatees are eligible for a seed fund of Rs 25,00,000.
(Edited by Athira Nair)