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SheLeadsTech: Empowering women entrepreneurs is the key to economic growth in India

Deepika Singhania
27th Apr 2017
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YourStory is the outreach partner for SheLeadsTech from Facebook.

 Every startup founder has a number of challenges to overcome - the rejections during the funding rounds, no money for scaling-up, hiring new talent, the list goes on. While these are common to anyone starting up, there are certain unique challenges that women entrepreneurs face.

Most of these arise from the preconceived notion that women are more focused on their families, which is why they aren’t as dedicated to their job as men. This rampant gender bias and, more importantly, the lack of investor confidence, are the main obstacles that women entrepreneurs face.

Is there a holistic approach that can address these challenges? Something that will wipe clear these preconceived notions and encourage more women entrepreneurs to lead the way?

Yes, it’s possible

SheLeadsTech, an exclusive initiative by Facebook to encourage women entrepreneurs, focuses on these very questions. The programme was launched in Delhi in March and more recently in Bengaluru, on April 19, 2017. Both events saw a huge turnout of women founders and aspiring entrepreneurs, who come together to inspire and advise their ilk on how to make it big.

The Bengaluru event, held at Commune Co-works, had in attendance eminent women entrepreneurs including Bharati Jacob, Managing Partner at Seedfund; Shalini Prakash, Principal at 500Startups; Sunita Ramaswamy, Director at LetsVenture; Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO at YourStory and Namrata Kohli, Manager, Strategic Product Partnerships at Facebook.

Speaking at the event, Shradha Sharma said, “I was talking to one of my investors earlier today. She said something very interesting - people who climb Mount Everest, climb it no matter what. It’s their one goal in life and they are ready to achieve it even if it means they have to give up their life in the process. That’s the kind of dedication we all need. And I believe that women have this kind of dedication.”

SheLeadsTech

A study, conducted by Development Economics and YouGov on behalf of Facebook, reveals that at least four out of five women in India would like to start a business. “Even if half of these women can start a business, we are looking at a tremendous opportunity to grow the startup community in the next few years,” said Namrata Kohli. “Women are often asked questions that are not related to their company. Because of all these irrelevant notions, building a network often becomes a task,” she pointed out.

Namrata Kohli speaks to the attendees

SheLeadsTech aims to help women get rid of these discrepancies and build a network for themselves. The programme gives women entrepreneurs access to resources and exclusive mentorship to help build their businesses. 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 partners including MailChimp, App Annie, and AWS.

The participants will get support for an entire year in the form of monthly interactive Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with mentors. They will also get to be a part of the peer community on Facebook, and get a chance to meet the Facebook team.

Let that dream grow

Once you have the right kind of help, it won’t take you long to achieve success. All you have to do is ask. “One of the things that I’m very proud of is my knack for asking for help. I believe that’s one of the things I did right,” Shradha added.

The event also saw Bharati Jacob, Shalini Prakash, and Sunita Ramaswamy deliberate in a panel discussion on ‘Change the Equation.’ Each of them spoke about their own journey and challenges as entrepreneurs while building tech-enabled businesses.

(Panelists L:R) Shalini Prakash, Principal at 500Startups, Sunita Ramaswamy, Director at LetsVenture and Bharati Jacob, Managing Partner at Seedfund; Moderated by Suma Ramachandran, YourStory

“The first step for any entrepreneur, especially women entrepreneurs, is to believe in themselves. That’s very important. The second step is to stay hungry for your dreams, whatever it is that you want to achieve. I find that people, both men and women, just stop being hungry for their dream. So, don’t do that,” advised Bharati Jacob.

So, if you are a woman founder/co-founder, and have a tech-enabled startup or app, the SheLeadsTech programme is exactly what you need in order to grow. Be a part of this programme. Find out how to apply here.

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