In order to give impetus to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, the non-governmental organization Action for India (AFI) launched the Business Accelerator Program Women in Social Entrepreneurship (WISE).
It is aimed at women with high potential in social entrepreneurship who are on their way to becoming the next impact unicorns. The program ignites the minds of social entrepreneurs by exploring, networking, funding opportunities, partnerships and building new ventures with AFI. It also provides extensive mentoring and hand-holding with the best executives through critically designed study spaces to grow their business through mentoring sessions, webinars, and podcasts.
By reflecting on past trips by social entrepreneurs, AFI aims to close the gaps in investment opportunities and accelerate them through tailored interventions.
The concept of creating a Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) to promote and support established and emerging women entrepreneurs in India was born in 2017 at the Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which was jointly hosted by NITI Aayog and the US government in Hyderabad in 2017.
It is the first moderation platform of its kind tasked with working with the public sector and privately run organizations and bringing them together on a single platform. It also enables best practice to be shared between women entrepreneurs and partner organizations and promotes evidence-based policy making.
AFI Founder and President Sanjay Kadaveru said, “Despite a challenging year, it has been one of the most active and successful years for AFI. We have launched a number of initiatives and programs and have pooled the right resources to fill the void for social entrepreneurs. We are grateful that we received the eBay Foundation grant that enables us to make this a reality. “
“There are many accelerators around the world, but women in particular face particular challenges that are specific to them. We strive to develop bespoke interventions that address the challenges of social entrepreneurs and help them accelerate their scaling journey. “
Shanti Mohan, CEO of Lets Venture, spoke about the landscape of female entrepreneurship in India, highlighting that there is a gender disadvantage. “If you look at the Indian ecosystem today, there are about 30% women entrepreneurs and probably fewer of them are women founders; less than 5% are financed and around 1% are in the investment areas. Given the macro scenario, we need to address, rather than fight, the fact that there is gender disadvantage. For me it was a realization that you have to spend less time raising funds and more time building your company. “
She added: “As founders, we need to eliminate the fact that we are discriminated against when we collect donations. As entrepreneurs, we have to be okay with making mistakes and not always trying to be perfectionists. This is the best time to be an entrepreneur in India. “
The NGO welcomed its first cohort of five WISEpreneurs from different sectors including education, health, technology and livelihoods.
The team consists of Shveta Raina, founder, Talerang, a platform that prepares students and young professionals for their careers through high-quality training, mentoring and access to internships and jobs; Neha Kirpal, co-founder of InnerHour, a mental health platform; Akshita Sachdeva, co-founder of Trestle Labs, an initiative focused on empowering the visually impaired community towards inclusive education, employment and content accessibility; Janhavi Joshi, co-founder of Bleetech Innovations, a company committed to the inclusion and accessibility of the deaf through various design and technological innovations; and Pooja Rai, founder of Anthill Creations, an organization focused on creating sustainable playgrounds and bringing play and learning home to children who miss school due to the pandemic.
The AFI program aims to give impetus to social entrepreneurs and thereby make a positive contribution to the social and economic development of society in order to achieve a greater global impact.