Social entrepreneurs look to rope in more women leaders for growth

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Social entrepreneurs, as they say, look to address societal issues which have been ignored largely. Crusaders in this space are now looking at driving the needs by roping in more and more women, not just in leadership roles but also as customers as well.

Take this. Sankalp Forum, an arm of the Intellicap Group, looks to aid enterprises with funding as well as know-how of business in sectors like agri, food, education, clean energy and financial inclusion. What is interesting is that the forum has also categorised entrepreneurship with women impact products and services as its focus area.

“Not many years ago there had been a lot of enterprises where women were neither producers nor consumers. But that is evolved now and we have strong leadership by women in organisations, as they look to bring in more gender diversity. Of the 165 applications we recently received for one of our funding initiatives, we saw that 45 per cent of the companies had changed strategies to address women issues,” said Aparajita Agarwa, director, Sankalp Forum.

According to her, women investors too make a conscious impact on women driven enterprises and encourage them to go beyond run of the mill ideas. “Initially when we began to talk to men about developing proper washrooms, they would not understand the intensity of the need and consider it a non-issue. Later, we started talking to women and designed our strategies around them,” said Namita Banka of Banka BioLoo.

The women-led business organisation engaged in promoting and developing innovative environmental friendly products and services for human waste management system.

On the other hand B-Schools, like here the Indian School of Business, are also looking at helping women set-up their ventures.

ISB runs the 10,000 women programme in India from 2008, driven by the Goldman Sachs group and over 1,300 underserved women entrepreneurs got business and management education, across the country.

“ISB has been a partner in empowering talented women entrepreneurs in India over the last six years. We believe that their growth and success as wealth and employment creators for the nation will have a multiplier effect on the economy as well as social fabric of the country. It is very important for B-schools to take on the responsibility of breaking traditional barriers and mind-sets and provide opportunities for women to utilise their entrepreneurial talents,” Deepak Chandra, deputy dean, ISB.

The B-School says, graduates from the classes held so far were successful in growing their businesses as 75 per cent reported an increase in revenues while 58 per cent reported adding new jobs, within 18 months of graduation. The women are exposed to 150 hours of classroom instruction on topics such as business planning, marketing, finance, accounting and human resource management.

“Although most of our employees are women, it is not that we do not hire men. It is important to have a healthy mix as it encourages competition and motivates too,” said Pavithra who runs Vindhya Infomedia, a BPO that employs people with physical disabilities and women below the poverty line.


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