Four out of five women in India want to start their own businesses. Unfortunately, the conversion rate is not high. Rampant gender bias and, more importantly, the lack of investor confidence because of preconceived notions that women’s primary focus is on their family, and that they aren’t as committed to their job as men, are the main obstacles.
So, how can we make it easier for women to start businesses? How can women who leverage technology to build businesses thrive? The answer is: A holistic approach that collectively addresses these challenges.
Ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day, Facebook launched the SheLeadsTech programme exclusively to encourage women entrepreneurs. The programme is open to any woman founder/co-founder of a company that has a mobile app.
The year-long SheLeadsTech programme will give women founders/co-founders access to tools, mentorship, and resources to help overcome some of the barriers they face, and build a successful business in technology.
“With less than 10 percent of startups having women founders in India, the SheLeadsTech programme is a great initiative by Facebook. In fact, only 8 percent of the queries received at the Startup India call centre with regards to setting up a new business come from women – indicating that a majority of women still think twice before considering startups as a viable career option,” said Karan Anand, Sr. AVP, Startup India Hub at the launch of the SheLeadsTech programme.
Startup India Hub is partnering with Facebook to build a stronger startup ecosystem for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship among women in India.
Tools and resources
On the technical front, the women will have access to multiple tools and resources. This includes FbStart, a programme that provides year-round technical support from Facebook, through an exclusive community of global startups, free credits to tools, training on Facebook Developer Tools, and services from dozens of premier partners including MailChimp, App Annie, and Amazon.
The SheLeadsTech programme will also provide access to mentors in the industry through monthly Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions and quarterly in-person engagements at events. Participants will also have access to a peer community on Facebook, who will provide the much-needed support network to these women.
The pool of mentors includes Shalini Prakash, Principle of 500 Startups, Durga Raghunath, Co-founder, Juggernaut Books, Naiyya Saggi, CEO and Founder, BabyChakra, Shikha Uberoi, Co-founder of Indi.com, Shradha Sharma, CEO of YourStory, and Sumeet Singh CMO of Naukri.
“You can't underestimate how great an impact training and mentoring can have on equipping women with the confidence to see their bold ideas through. SheLeadsTech provides the necessary support to women founders, who not only face barriers in obtaining capital, but who lack the support and advice needed to thrive. I credit my success to my mentors and advisors who have guided me along the way. It is important that women have opportunities to network and other female role models to look up to to feel empowered and receive encouragement throughout their startup journey. When we support women-led startups, we all win,” says Shalini Prakash.
At the launch event in Delhi, three of the mentors for SheLeadsTech – Shikha Uberoi, Naiyya Saggi and Durga Raghunath – took part in a panel discussion and spoke about their own journey and challenges as entrepreneurs while building tech-enabled businesses. The mentors shared their experiences and tips for success with the audience.
Shikha Uberoi, said, “I’m thrilled to be a part of the SheLeadsTech programme! As a woman who has gone from tennis to TV and now to tech, I have benefited from my mentors; they provided access to resources that are often not available when you first start out and want to create an impact. It’s vital that we, who are in a position to enable, take a committed stance towards building a robust ecosystem of doers, givers, creators, innovators, and above all, successful women entrepreneurs. It’s time for India to be on the global stage, and Indian women should be in the spotlight. I am looking forward to helping many women not only embrace the light, but shine as bright as they can!”
Naiyya Saggi, who has also raised funding for her venture, had some great experiences to share at the panel discussion in Delhi. According to Naiyya, “Like Facebook, BabyChakra believes in empowering women through digital platforms. We have proudly empowered 5 million women so far. As a women-led venture, we understand the value of including, cultivating, and nurturing women entrepreneurs so that we can make more inclusive choices and build a better future. The SheLeadsTech programme does not just support women entrepreneurship, it is an important step to promoting and nurturing better business, overall. If we leave women out of the race, we leave behind half of the economy, which makes no sense at all from a business perspective. I am proud to be a part of SheLeadsTech and create an opportunity for women to connect, inspire, and learn from one another.”
So, if you are a woman founder/co-founder, and have a tech-enabled startup or apps, then the SheLeadsTech programme is what you need to grow. Apply to be a part of the programme. Find out how to apply here.
(YourStory is the digital outreach partner for Facebook’s SheLeadsTech programme.)