Aparna Saraogi, an IIT alumna and a banker, is of the view that having worked in Fed 14 banks, she is already a priviledged and an empowered women and that most women in India are not like her. Although entrepreneurship amongst Indian women is coming up in a big way especially in metro cities, the women in tier two and tier three cities are still struggling in the concept.
To encourage women who are grappling with the various aspects of entrepreneurship, she along with Standford alumnus Sarandeep Singh came up with a mentoring programme called WEE Foundation (Women Entrepreneurship and Empowerment). She told SheThePeople.TV about the idea behind it to provide support to scale up.
The programme is divided into two categories — WEE Startup and WEE Accelerator
“When we looked around the globe and when I went to rural India for survey, I realised that women want to be financially empowered. They are coming up with a lot of creative ideas. To implement those ideas, they want to understand finance, they want to know who is going to be their potential buyer and most importantly, they want to build that personality. But they need some support and mentorship to scale up,” said Aparna, who is also the VP & Head, Market Risk Reporting and Control at RBS Markets & International Banking.
She added, “As we all know that a country cannot succeed until all its women are equally empowered and they are contributing to the GDP. So that’s where I thought it’s time for me to give back to society. Hence, we came up with a complete end-to-end mentorship programme.”
When we looked around the globe and when I went to rural India for survey, I realised that women want to be financially empowered
Now after creating the idea with Sarandeep, Aparna went back to her college, IIT Delhi, and convinced Dr V Ramgopal Rao, the Director, to get on board with the plan to provide them the guidance and infrastructure.
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She told us about her meeting with Rao, “He was very supportive. We went to him and told him that sir we want to do something for women empowerment and he said, ‘definitely, please go for it’. IITs are known for men and most of their distinguished alumni are men, so he gave us full support. He gave us a vision and infrastructure and that’s how IIT Delhi and WEE collaborated for this programme.”
Initially, WEE had decided to choose 30 entrepreneurs but the overwhelming response from women compelled Aparna and Sarandeep to choose 40 entrepreneurs. The programme is divided into two categories — WEE Startup and WEE Accelerator. The startup category is for the women who have an idea and want to start their own firm and the Accelerator is for women who are already at a certain level and it will help them scale up to the global level.
The age group is diverse at WEE, as Aparna says that it starts with a woman who is only 18 yea,rs old and is giving her B Tech exams and simultaneously running a baking business. Her turnover is around Rs 20 lakh per year. And the eldest woman at WEE is a 55-year-old woman who felt that she was not getting respected in her family so she decided to start her own business, Aparna tells us.
The eldest woman at WEE is a 55-year-old woman who felt there was no respect for her in the family, so she started her own business
About the current energy in the startup ecosystem in India, Aparna is of the view that startups have become fashionable. She observed, “People are trying new things and they are also getting support. But the best part is women are now taking a leap in the startup world. They have started taking their ideas to the next level. Only thing is we need more support for them and make sure that they get connected to the right buyer.”
Aparna is positive that it is soon going to be a women’s startup world. And she feels that women are there in every sector from tech to finance, but the only need of the hour is to increase their representation.