IIT-Delhi to mentor 45 women entrepreneurs from across the country


NEW DELHI: Having come up with a quirky name for her enterprise, Bee Positive ++, Kanupriya Saigal plans to create a cooperative of beekeepers at Karnal to produce and sell honey. The Novice entrepreneur will be chaperoned through the initiation process by Indian Institute Of Technology-Delhi under it’s three month programme to mentor 45 women entrepreneurs from across the country.

Presenting her business concept at the launch of the Women Entrepreneurship Empowerment (WEE) Mentorship Programme on Saturday, Saigal said she hoped to “learn the technical aspects of my business from the mentors that would help sustain my idea”.

Explaining the focus on women, V Ramgopal Rao, director, IIT-Delhi, said that “in spite of the fact that women entrepreneurs are more productive than men, there has been a decline in their presence and only 10% of all the start-ups are owned by them.”

Dr Rao added that due to several social constraints, many girls did not get admission into IITs. “It is because of this that we will work with several government agencies to incubate and nurture ideas to compensate for the poor presence of women on the campus,” he said. “We want to remove this exclusivity of IIT and make it more inclusive.”

Sharing her personal experience of entrepreneurship, Deepa Malik, who won a silver medal at the Rio Paralympics recently, recounted how she started a food delivery service in army cantonments, which has since become a full-fledged catering service for army clubs and private parties. “In spite of having no background in business and disabled by paralysis, I still managed to profit from my venture,” she said. Malik, who believes in constantly being in ‘solution mode’, added, “People say that I am wheelchair-bound, but I say that I am wheelchair-liberated. I believe that wheels are a sign of progress.”

The co-founders of WEE, Sarandeep Singh and Aparna Saroagi, did not expect more than 100 applicants, but were delighted to receive over 2,500. Among them was the sister duo of Diksha and Aishna Ohri. The founders of Kidzig, an online marketplace platform for children’s products, said they “hope to gain experience, acquire technical know-how to develop our idea and reach out to a wider audience.”

Pointing out that women contributed only 17% to the GDP because of their absence from the workforce, Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Ayog, said, “If India manages gender parity, then we will see at least an increase of 1.4% in GDP.”

Kant hoped that the women start-ups nurtured by IIT would bring about a discernible change in the business ecosystem, especially in north India.

WEE divides entrepreneurs into two groups: an entry-level ideas group engaged with start-up ideas, funding and mentoring from IIT and an accelerators’ business model.

This article was originally published on EconomicTimes

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