Social networking site Facebook on March 1st launched a new initiative, SheLeadsTech, to support women-founded or co-founded startups and said it will also be expanding its SheMeansBusiness program that supports women-led small businesses. SheLeadsTech will give women-founded or co-founded start-ups access to a year-long program that provides tools, mentorship and resources.
The announcement which came ahead of Women’s Day aim to bring women on board India’s digital revolution in a bigger way.
“Technology is an enabler for entrepreneurship. It is small and medium business that will create growth if India has to grow along with jobs in the next few years…We want to ensure we help this growth,” said Ritesh Mehta, Facebook’s head of economic growth initiative,India and South Asia, told Mail Today. Facebook also said that India is missing out on a potential 15.5 million new businesses Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick and 64 million additional jobs by not addressing the challenges facing women who want to start a business, quoting figures from a study it released on March 1st.
The study, conducted by Development Economics and YouGov on behalf of Facebook, reveals that at least four in five women in India would like to start a business. If 52 per cent were empowered to start a business today, the figures can be achieved by the end of 2021, it said.
Secretary to Ministry of electronics and information technology, Aruna Sundararajan, said India’s startup incubators are women unfriendly. “We are trying to put together a small startup programme for women in technology. I’m trying to see whether we can have women interfacing this so that you actually feel valued.” She also said the government is trying to forge deep partnerships with platforms like Facebook, Google, Intel and Cisco to see how women’s programmes can be bettered with technology.
As India’s economy expects to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025, a major impetus is being given to strengthen the backbone of India’s economy -the small businesses sector.
If we were to harness the still largely untapped potential of women’s entrepreneurship and provide them greater support, it could lead to more jobs being created, economic growth and more diverse and representative small business communities. We see amazing examples of how digital can be the equalizer on Facebook every day,” said Ankhi Das, Director of public policy, India, South and Central Asia.
India is among the largest user base for Facebook and its affiliate WhatsApp. The country contributes 168 million users to Facebook’s 1.86 billion global users, and 200 million to WhatsApp’s 1.2 billion monthly active users.
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