As part of International Women's Day celebrations in Karnataka on Wednesday, the government announced the Ubuntu Memorandum and the setting up of a fund for women entrepreneurs.
The women associations also came together to present a memorandum to the government before the allocation of the budget. Ratna Prabha, Additional Chief Secretary to Government of Karnataka, said, "All the women associations have come together to work as a team, and we are calling this consortium of women associations 'Ubuntu'."
Talking about the initiatives for women in the state, Ratna Prabha said, “We are proud to announce that Government of Karnataka has been awarded as the most favourable government, globally by WEConnect International, and the Chief Minister has been invited to be conferred with an award in London by end of this month.” WEConnect International helps women-owned businesses succeed in global value chains and helps them network with MNCs.
Ubuntu comprises different women associations, such as AWAKE (Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Karnataka), COWE, EMERGE, KASSIA (Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association), WISE (Women's Initiative for Self Empowerment), FKCCI (Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry), and WEKAS (Women Entrepreneurs Karnataka Association).
Ratna Prabha said, "All the associations are now going to be working as a team instead of working independently. It shows the strength and unity of women. Now we intend to touch Tier II and III cities and help the members get more business, facilitate marketing and vendor development. We aim to develop from grassroots to the capital. Since the industrial policy is mid-way, there can't be a new policy but the associations have a few demands that have been put together and presented to the Chief Minister and Industry minister."
The key points that women want the government to address and accommodate are:
Redefining and changing the definition of women entrepreneur: Businesses in which women have 51 percent and above stake (presently, it's 100 percent) to be considered as women-owned businesses.
Loan: Finance from KSFC to be given with 20 percent as soft loan component at four percent interest and collateral-free.
Subsidy: Fifty percent subsidy for land and payment in installments as given to SC/ST, from KIADB and KSSIDC.
Investment subsidy: Revival of five-percent investment subsidy from State government for women entrepreneurs.
Fund allocation: Allocation of funds for setting up training centres for sector-specific skills across all sectors and for national and international and international certifications like WEConnect, UL, CE and other product certifications and ISO certifications. The memorandum asks for funding support of at least Rs 50 lakh to all women entrepreneur associations in the state for conducting growth-focussed events during the year.
Procurement support: Preferential procurement from women vendors for State government, corporations and PSUs to an amount of at least 20 percent.
Business incubators: Schemes and grant support for setting up business incubators and for women entrepreneurs to use IT tools for business growth.
Innovation: Encourage innovation by providing funding to women-owned businesses for innovation.
Trade license: Request to abolish trade licence totally for all, including traders, who are registered under Karnataka Shops and Establishments Act.
Tech parks: All other schemes such as women-owned businesses to get special allotments in tech parks, and an exclusive quota for site allotment both in KIADB and KSSIDC interest subsidy etc., to continue.
The celebrations, in association with COWE (Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs), was inaugurated by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and presided by R V Deshpande, Minister for Large and Medium Industries & Infrastructure Development. The event saw Priyank M Kharge, Minister of IT, BT and Tourism, Santosh S Lad, Minister of Labour, Ratna Prabha, Additional Chief Secretary of Government of Karnataka, and DV Prasad, Additional Chief Secretary to Government Commerce & Industries department in attendance.
The memorandum was submitted yesterday with the Chief Minister. At the event, Kharge announced allotment of Rs 10 crore for the state’s women entrepreneurs. The Minister also emphasised the need for women entrepreneurs around Karnataka to receive a 360-degree approach towards startups in terms of mentorship, legal help and help, so they can expand their networks to grow their businesses.