Women own three million micro, small and medium enterprises in India, employing eight million people and contributing 3% to the country’s industrial output. And yet, they have the potential to do so much more.
Many women struggle to access training and information, or secure the capital needed to grow their enterprises and break into the formal economy. North India ranks particularly low when it comes to numbers of women-owned businesses. Developed in close collaboration with and funded by U.S. Embassy India and delivered in partnership with Dhriiti, the WE Can: Workshop and Business Plan Competition for Women Entrepreneurs worked to support young women entrepreneurs in this region to realise their potential.
Working across five cities (Delhi, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Jaipur and Lucknow), the project was instrumental in empowering 150 young women entrepreneurs to build the confidence and capability they need to manage and grow sustainable businesses.
The project provided five days of intensive business training, followed by six weeks of mentoring. Twenty-five women then went on to receive incubation support to kick start their businesses, including one-on-one coaching, advanced business training, as well as links to networks, markets and financial services. In addition, five enterprises with high growth potential were awarded a start-up package including a cash prize and ongoing advice from business experts.
‘With the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, the Mann Deshi Foundation is working to empower women by providing vital access to capital and market linkages. This project aims to increase women entrepreneurs’ ability to start and scale their businesses, giving them skills, ability, and access to financial services.’
– Mark E. Azua, Director of Programs, North India Office, U.S. Embassy India