In this Facebook live session, we talked about women entrepreneurs and how the Indian startup ecosystem is changing with Amitabh Kant of Niti Aayog and Shelley Thakral of Facebook.

“If more women start contributing to the Indian economy, we can add 700 billion dollars to our GDP,” said Shaili Chopra, the founder of SheThePeople in the opening note of the conversation.

How far have we reached in putting women entrepreneurs at the forefront of the economy?

“Getting away from the vicious cycle of malnutrition. Improving learning outcomes for women. Enabling young girls to go to school and improving on their education and ensuring that they do extremely well at the school level and move on to the next level.” These are the aspects in which state governments have done some exceptional work said, Amitabh Kant. Further, he elaborated, that Chhattisgarh is providing bicycles to girls to reach schools. The Kudumbashree project in Kerala provides fisherwomen separate buses to take their catch directly to the markets, which helped them get rid of the middlemen and get a much higher return.

The women self-help groups all across the country have demonstrated great vibrancy. These groups are doing backward and forward linkages and helping women get better returns.

“There is literacy but there aren’t enough opportunities.”

Amitabh Kant believes there is a need for greater opportunity and access. At the same time the success of startup movements for women in India and loan schemes like MUDRA cannot go unnoticed.

Women participation by small and medium businesses through Facebook

Shelley Thakral said that Facebook is like a Townhall which has provided the right kind of community, connectivity and a platform to support more participation from women. Through Facebook, we can build training, look at the numbers if women who have the capacity to share their learnings and experiences. Women can make a difference in terms of educating their children and be able to be an example to the other women in the family.  They are able to see through with education and are guiding their children and community and are being role models. The trainings, through Facebook, are provided in local languages in order to reach more women. The platform gives women the voice, the energy and this absolute instruction to be able to help each other and build trust.

Government missions at school and college level for girls to help them follow a new path

The government has created thousands of girls’ schools and also implemented incubation centre at various institutions for innovation. Citing examples of Shanti Mohan and Meena Ganesh, Mr Kant said he believes girls to be better at innovation. He also stressed the importance of men in building the right kind of environment for women to grow.

Three government schemes that women should watch out for

  1. The MUDRA scheme – 73% of MUDRA loans have gone to women.
  2. The Kudumbashree program where backward and forward linkages are provided and government acts as a catalyst.
  3. And the third one is the big movement of MSME sector where Prime minister-driven initiatives such as the 59 minutes loan will see a lot of flow of credit taking place.

She means Business programs and collaborations with the government.

Taking guidance from the government and getting in directions to expand such programmes further is the way forward, said Shelley Thakral.

An actionable message for women entrepreneurs at the Digital Women Awards

Amitabh Kant said, “The future lies in the hand of those who are using technology in a big way, who are using artificial intelligence. And those who have the ambitions to capture the world… They should work in groups to penetrate the global market by using all forces of technology.”

Shelley Thakral said, “When you take technology, you take a platform and you take something can actually have a very wide global presence. That’s something of quite a value to people who would begin that faith.”

Also Read : And The Winners of the Digital Women Awards 2017 Are…

Rachna Chandira is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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