Out of the 58 million MSME entrepreneurs in India, 8.5 million are women, and the success rate is higher amongst women founders, said Deepak Bagla, CEO, Invest India, in New Delhi on Friday. The head of the national investment promotion an facilitation agency was speaking at the National Summit on Women and Education Empowerment at the Ashoka Hotel in Delhi on Friday January 17.
Supported by the Startup India initiative, , the summit was the third edition of the flagship event conducted by the WIEF (Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Foundation), a Delhi based NGO working to make women financially independent.
Shelly Thakral, Head of Policy Programs atFacebook; Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman AICTE; and Dr. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; among others participated. The programme focused on the entrepreneurial development of women in India, the challenges they face, and the path to bringing more women into entrepreneurship.
While talking about the positive transformation taking place in the country in the context of women entering into entrepreneurship, Bagla said that the state with the highest number of MSMEs headed by at least one woman founder is Meghalaya, followed by Goa and Andhra Pradesh.
At a time when the economy is facing many challenges and unemployment is on the rise, it is essential for India to embrace entrepreneurship. Agreeing that various initiatives for encouraging women’s entrepreneurship is leading to social transformation, Thakral of Facebook also said that women will play a huge role in the $5 trillion dollar economy which India is aiming to be.
Emphasizing Facebook’s work in this regard, she spoke about the businesses running on Facebook and how the social media giant is using technology to bridge the gender gap and uplift women entrepreneurs. She added, “There are close to 140 million businesses worldwide, and over 11 million business in India, who are using Facebook tools and services to further their business. Most small and medium businesses will drive this socio-economic progress and the core of this are women.”
She also spoke about important it is to reach out to women in villages and those from underprivileged backgrounds, and help bridge the gap in terms of digital literacy. Thakral emphasised how that will help more women conduct their businesses online with agility and voice.
Dr. Ashutosh Sharma also spoke about creating a level-playing field for women to get into entrepreneurship and into science and technology. Shweta Singh, Founder and CEO, WIEF said, “WIEF will work towards the financial empowerment of women until we see a definitive and constructive change in the thought process in the society. I believe that as women, we first need to change our own thought process before moving on to change someone else’s.”
She also touched upon the Women Empowerment Mission 2019-2022, undertaken by the foundation. To be launched on February 1, the Mission will include workshopsto make women financially independent, affecting over 260 districts, 50 thousand villages, and many tier three and tier four cities.
The event also saw several entrepreneurs like Priyanka C Raina, Anisha Singh, and Malini Agarwal talk about their entrepreneurial journey and the challenges which come with it.