How an IITian and a Stanford alumnus are set to transform the face of women entrepreneurship

How an IITian and a Stanford alumnus are set to transform the face of women entrepreneurship

Thursday August 18, 2016,

4 min Read

Did you know that around the world, only 18–20 percent of startups are founded or co-founded by women? Surprising, isn’t it?

Aparna Saraogi, an alumna of IIT Delhi, met Stanford alumnus Sarandeep Singh at a conference, and soon they were on the topic of women entrepreneurship and the untapped potential in India. Instead of limiting the chance meeting to mere networking, the duo decided to form the WEE Foundation(Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment Foundation) a social initiative with IIT Delhi to empower the women’s ecosystem.

Aparna is a banker, while Sarandeep is CEO and International Master Trainer at Speed Leadership. While most people who heard of Aparna and Sarandeep’s idea warned them against it, the duo decided to go ahead even if it meant bootstrapping, juggling jobs, and a lot of ground work.

Sarandeep put his doctoral research to use, providing insights on the state of women entrepreneurship in over 40 countries, the factors which affect it, and how it can be improved to create a programme.


The WEE Foundation

The foundation has created a high-powered programme designed to address the specific needs, challenges, and opportunities faced by women entrepreneurs in India.

We intend to focus and ignite a fire amongst students (girls) who will embrace entrepreneurship as a viable, fulfilling career alternative to traditional forms of employment and a powerful means of earning income,

the founders say.

The WEE training course will teach the financial and business fundamentals that every Indian woman entrepreneur must know to compete and run her business profitably. It will then mentor these chosen students to work on their business model and take them from a mindset of visualisation to one of execution by helping them discover their vision, skills, and the strategies needed for starting and succeeding in business.

Women Entrepreneurship Programme

WEE has designed its first premium three-month Women Entrepreneurship Programme which will be launched at IIT Delhi on October 1, 2016.

The objective is to create an environment where together we can strengthen the women’s ecosystem. We would gather opinions of these experts to strengthen the WEE programme which would open doors for women who have an idea but do not know how to be an entrepreneur or who have started something small and need help to make it a financially viable business,

say the founders.

The key highlights of WEE’s programme include:

  •  Making the most of the female entrepreneurs’ unique strengths
  • Creating an idea pool
  • Leveraging innovative finance strategies
  • Networking effectively and developing strategic partnerships
  • Overcoming common business barriers such as inaccessible markets, lack of information, and
  • scarce resources to create velocity
  •  Helping develop a realistic business plan
  • Learning from other successful women entrepreneurs and creating a community to enable greatness

Me to we

The programme will be free of cost for a chosen 30 budding/existing women entrepreneurs. WEE is working closely with IIT Delhi’s ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’, a programme by the Ministry of Human Resource Development to uplift rural India. WWE currently has access to funds that are granted to UBN and the founders are also in talks with the HRD Ministry to develop an exclusive programme for women entrepreneurship.

In addition to this, WEE is also in talks with colleges to groom young entrepreneurs and six of them are already on board. Another area in which the foundation is taking keen interest is empowering rural women.

We want to create something like AMUL in every village we start work in.

The foundation has tied up with various organisations including SHEROES and ah! Ventures for mentoring the candidates.

Going forward, WEE will immerse itself in social entrepreneurship and involve corporates in working closely with their beneficiaries.

We want to minimise the supply chain and ensure that through our foundation, the creators get what they truly deserve.

WEE’s maiden Round Table Stakeholder Feedback will see vice chancellors, mentors, entrepreneurs, leading sportspersons, and representatives from skill development and human rights come together at IIT Delhi on August 16.

It is indeed surreal to see how far we have come. We have always thought of this journey to be one from ‘me’ to ‘we’ and it is our way of giving back to the society. WEE is committed to increase both the number and success rate of women entrepreneurs, not just in India but around the world.