Women Startup Summit in Kochi stresses on need to promote inclusivity in India's entrepreneurial ecosystem
Hosted by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), in association with the Indian Women Network under the Confederation of Indian Industries, the Women Startup Summit brought together women leaders and entrepreneurs on a common platform to share their experiences, aspirations. and success stories.
The Women Startup Summit, hosted by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in Kochi on Thursday, celebrated the spirit of women entrepreneurship through deliberations, discussions, and by bringing to the fore women-led startups in various fields.
The day-long event was exciting from the word go. Welcoming the gathering at Integrated Startup Complex in Kalamassery, Kochi, KSUM Chief Executive Officer Dr Saji Gopinath said the summit was an occasion for women to help retrieve the entrepreneurship chances they typically miss out on, owing to lapses in the system.
Given that women in the state have proved their eminence in higher education, KSUM is duty-bound to promote their professional profile by facilitating opportunities, he added. SUM is the nodal agency of Government of Kerala for entrepreneurship development and incubation activities in the state.
A number of formidable women graced the occasion and shared their knowledge and experience with a mostly-young audience comprising students and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Kerala State Planning Board member Dr Mridul Eapen noted that most educated women in a high-literacy state like Kerala are still not conscious of their potential in business ventures. “The proposals and points emerging in a meet like this will have their resonance in the policy making decisions of the board,” she added at the inaugural address of the summit organised in association with the Indian Women Network under the Confederation of Indian Industries.
“The summit is definitely a strong step towards woman empowerment,” Mridul added.
Need to cross every barrier
Teja Ventures Founding Partner Virginia Tan, while addressing the audience over live video, spoke of She Loves Tech, which she initiated in 2015, and the steady progress the movement has made across continents over four years to become the world’s largest female technology startup competition.
The panel discussions included one on the need to promote inclusivity in the country’s startup ecosystem.
Deepti Dutt, Head, Strategic Initiatives Public Sector, Amazon, said a gender bias existed at the subconscious level while promoting an entrepreneur. “Promotion means guiding to the right path with a positive note, while prevention means discouraging,” she noted. “When a women founder presents her case to investors, the questions will be in prevention style.”
Kerala IT Secretary M Sivasankar, in his address, listed three major factors that hinder the prospects of women entering entrepreneurship in a big way in the state. These include "social barriers", where, say, "safety" of girl students in hostels restricts their study hours in the campus. Second is the increasing need for women with reasonable professional experience (of five to 10 years) heading "brown startups". Thirdly, there is near-absence of women coordinators in KSUM’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centres.
The “She Loves Tech 2019 Global Startup Competition’ was also held on the lines of the Women Startup Summit. Nusrat Sanghamitra of Cyca Onco Solutions was declared the winner of the competition, while the award for the ‘Best women inclusive startup’ went to Neovibe Technologies (founded by Akhil Pillai).
In the valedictory address, well-known filmmaker Anjali Menon compared her journey in films to that a startup, with all its struggles, highs, lows, and successes.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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