SheSparks 2023 hopes to ‘spark’ 1 million+ women job-creators in India by 2025
SheSparks 2023 – YourStory's flagship event to celebrate women – featured notable speakers such as Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, Government of India; Kanta Singh, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women India; Vani Kola, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital; and Anna Roy, Senior Adviser, NITI Aayog
It was a beautiful spring morning in the country’s capital as a host of policymakers, influencers, startup founders, and changemakers gathered together at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on March 3, 2023, for a day filled with conversations and connections to spark change for more women to become economically and socially free.
The aim is to bring new women role models for India to the forefront, draft policy recommendations to be sent to the government, bring fresh and actionable learnings from women changemakers, and invest in women-led businesses driving change with the hope to kickstart a movement of change.
The event featured notable speakers from the ecosystem that included Amitabh Kant, G20 Sherpa, Government of India; Kanta Singh, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women India; Vani Kola, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital; and Anna Roy, Senior Adviser, NITI Aayog to name a few.
While SheSparks began as a one-day event, it hopes to follow through with active community engagement throughout the year, supporting changemakers on the road to transformation with clear actionable steps.
Creating one million+ women job-creators in India by 2025
Delivering the opening keynote, YourStory’s Shradha Sharma presented the SheSparks manifesto which included an ambitious goal of helping create one million+ women job-creators in India by 2025 to help build the collective dream of a $5 trillion nation.
The manifesto is a shout-out to women building their roads to financial freedom in unique ways, in each small village, town and city in the country. It also celebrates women with their own voices, beliefs and conviction.
Women will play the most transformational role in India’s growth story
Amitabh Kant, the Indian government’s G20 Sherpa and a routine champion of women’s causes, spoke about the influential role of women in India’s economic growth story.
“Women will play the most transformational role in India’s growth story, especially those from Tier 2, 3 cities. Many from rural areas are set to do pathbreaking work because they'll be more hungry for disruption than men,” he said.
“If India has to grow at a high rate of 9 to 10 percent per annum year after year for three decades or more, it can't happen without women,” he said.
“One of India's G20 priorities is women-led development – and that means women should not be merely beneficiaries, but growth drivers and leaders in development and progress,” he added.
Building a robust framework for upskilling women
In a fireside chat with YourStory’s Shradha Sharma, Dr Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, spoke about ‘Building a robust framework for upskilling women’.
“At the G20 summit, India proposed that we should have an engagement group dedicated to startups. So, this is the first year where we have an engagement group, which gives equal weightage as large corporations for startups called ‘Startup 20’. Startup20 is organised into three task forces – finance, inclusion, and sustainability,” Dr Vaishnav shared.
Dr Vaishnav also talked about the need for mentoring programmes for women that are aspirational and diverse in experiences. “If we can work together to make that happen, it would be great,” he said.
He added that the unique strength women have is compassion. “And compassion matters a lot in solving problems. For instance, climate change issues cannot be resolved without women because that requires a lot of compassion,” he added.
Launch of The State of Women Entrepreneurship Report 2023
At SheSparks 2023, Vani Kola, Managing Director, Kalaari Capital, released The State of Women Entrepreneurship Report 2023 and engaged in a conversation with Neha Nagar, Finance Content Creator, on ‘Inspiring change at the top’.
Among the eye-opening figures the report includes is that just 9 percent of women-founded startups' share of VC funding, just 15 percent Indian unicorns have women co-founders, less than one percent of active angel investors in India are women, just 1 percent funding have been received by women-led startups, and that 60 percent women faced some form of bias in the last one year.
One of the most critical parts of the conversation focused on women's relationship with money. As an investor, Vani noticed that there is a stark difference between men and women when it comes to fundraising and financial conversations. Women tend to be more tentative, muted, and timid when they approach investors for capital as opposed to their male counterparts.
The VC is hopeful about what the future holds as there now exists a vibrant community of women and their voices to turbocharge progress.
“Progress has to happen. There's more of us; we have a voice. We need to do better. Stand up for yourself,” she added.
Now is the perfect time to be an entrepreneur
Kanta Singh, Deputy Country Representative, UN Women India also shares her thoughts on women entrepreneurship and how the role goes beyond building businesses and comes with a responsibility of providing mentorship and support to young girls who will be building the future.
“I believe this is the best time to be born a woman. We at the UN Women, while working with NITI Aayog and other partners on the cause of women's entrepreneurship, are witness to so much energy around,” she said.
“The future of work will be determined by what and who we invest in today. So, as entrepreneurs and most importantly as humans we have a responsibility towards young women,” concluded Kanta.
SheSparks awards: celebrating the spark makers
A key highlight of the evening were the SheSparks awards - a call to action, bringing together women and being and creating the spark of change across 15+ categories.
A year-long commitment to actionable change
In addition to the event in New Delhi, SheSparks 2023 is our year-long commitment to change that we intend to renew every year.
At the event, YourStory also unveiled its shared manifesto for owning and driving the change we need to see for more women to become economically and socially free.
We will also work towards sharing policy recommendations with various government ministries. We are also prepping up to launch our curated women’s entrepreneurship and skilling programs to help create 1 million job-creators through YourStory University. Based on practical, outcome-based learning and available in multiple languages, this program will help all women dreaming and daring to tread the road to entrepreneurship.
You can read more about the manifesto here.