Pilani Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Society (“PIEDS”), BITS Pilani’s technology business incubator, has announced the launch of its startup programme, ‘Womenpreneur for Bharat 1.0,’ in association with the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), incubated within NITI Aayog, and supported by Aditya Birla Capital Foundation, the CSR arm of Aditya Birla Capital Limited. Aditya Birla Capital Foundation is the governing body that determines the strategic direction of all Aditya Birla Capital development projects. Mrs Rajashree Birla serves as the foundation’s mentor, and its directors include Mrs Vishakha Mulye, Dr Pragnya Ram, and Mr Subhro Bhaduri.
The collaboration was announced on November 24, 2023, at the state workshop on ‘Enabling Women-Led Development through Entrepreneurship’ at the Dorjee Khandu State Convention Centre in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh. The workshop, co-hosted by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), brought together business, government, and civil society’s innovation, entrepreneurship, and inclusive development ecosystems to discuss pathways for furthering women-led development through entrepreneurship.
‘Womenpreneurs for Bharat 1.0’ aims to provide funding and incubation support to female entrepreneurs working in/from Tier 2/3/4 cities in the Northeast, Rajasthan, Haryana, and J&K. The programme will seek both for-profit and non-profit women-led startups that work across UN-SDG areas and address business or societal challenges in those areas.
Commenting on the announcement, the Director of Aditya Birla Capital Foundation and CEO of Aditya Birla Capital Limited, Vishakha Mulye, said:
We are committed to creating equitable, inclusive, and long-term social and economic growth for the country. Through ‘Womenpreneurs for Bharat 1.0’, we aim to provide a platform to nurture the development of women entrepreneurs in the nation, who have the potential to impact a large number of underserved Indians through innovative solutions.
The programme would provide eligible startups with funding of up to Rs. 10 lakhs and extended incubation support from PIEDS, such as one-on-one mentoring, market access support, and opportunities to raise future investments. Interested innovators can apply for the programme on the Womenpreneur for Bharat 1.0 websites.
Prof. V. Ramgopal Rao, Vice-Chancellor, BITS Pilani, stated:
India’s diversity across its length and breadth requires localized solutions from local entrepreneurs. Women innovators, especially from Northeastern states, will likely lead the next wave of innovations in solving their region’s unique problems. We are happy to partner with the Women Entrepreneurship Platform and Aditya Birla Capital Foundation to help bring some of these innovations to the fore and help them scale.
Aditya Birla Capital Foundation (“ABCF”) is dedicated to advancing programmes that promote inclusive growth and development of society’s underserved sections. Its engagement primarily focuses on women-centric initiatives in healthcare, education, women empowerment, sustainable livelihood, and sports, among other things. The company has made a significant difference in the lives of over 5.5 lakh people and is reckoned as a Force for Good among beneficiaries.
Anna Roy, Mission Director of Women Entrepreneurship Platform, responded to the initiative, saying:
The project embodies a strategic approach to bolster women’s entrepreneurship in the tech4good sector, which has significant market and impact potential, aligning with national goals of gender equality, women-led development, and digital inclusion. Women entrepreneurs leading innovations in critical development areas with a tech-led approach can significantly benefit business and society.
According to a Niti Aayog research report, India has 63 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), with approximately 20% owned by women and employing 22 to 27 million people. As per estimates, accelerating women’s entrepreneurship could create more than 30 million women-owned enterprises, potentially creating 150 to 170 million jobs.
The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP), which was incubated at NITI Aayog and now operates as a public-private partnership, is a one-stop hub for women entrepreneurs that includes a SmartMatch feature for government schemes, incubators, accelerators, and private sector initiatives, a community page, and a mentorship module.
The State Support Mission, an NITI Aayog umbrella initiative, is strategically designed to assist states and union territories meet their socioeconomic targets by 2047. A series of workshops are being held under the auspices of the State Support Mission to provide a platform for Centre-State exchanges and partnership formation. The main aim is to raise awareness about the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) and reveal several initiatives it has launched. Under the State Support Mission, WEP is now expanding its reach to the grassroots through a hub-and-spoke model.