Tata Trusts partnered with Cisco to implement Program Saksham aimed to create 3,500 rural women entrepreneurs in sixteen districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The programme intends to address two key levers for entrepreneurship – one, access to opportunity and two, access to basic entrepreneurial skills. The programme aims to aid the women in setting up nano enterprises that will take them closer to their objective of financial self-sufficiency.
The programme design will begin with the identification of potential women entrepreneurs and will enable training on the basics of setting up and running and will include modules on guiding women in identifying the business ideas that they would want to pursue and provide help in setting-up the business.
As part of the training the identified women will undergo 5 days of training that includes on-ground market research and consolidation of business ideas through a need gap analysis and building core business skills. The women are then guided through to set-up their enterprises. Initial capital support is also given to the identified entrepreneurs to support them in meeting the expenses like awareness building of the nano enterprise. Foundation for Rural Entrepreneurship Development (FREND), an entity set up with the support of Tata Trusts with a vision to create income opportunity for 100,000 women by 2022, will help in the implementation of the program.
Raman Kalyanakrishnan, Head- Strategy at Tata Trusts, said, “It is heartening to see that the number of women entrepreneurs is steadily increasing. However, there is still a huge gap that needs to be bridged in order to boost women entrepreneurship in the country. There is a strong economic case for ensuring that this journey continues, and hence the reason for our collaboration with Cisco – to encourage, support and promote women entrepreneurs.”
The program started in 23 villages of Bahraich district where 60 women were trained and nano retail enterprises like bangle shop, kirana store, and fast food have been identified for set up. Currently, training is underway simultaneously in 5 districts of Uttar Pradesh and 10 districts of Bihar. Many of the potential women entrepreneurs have been imparted digital literacy skills through the Internet Saathi program that was successfully implemented earlier in these districts.
“Digital, combined with entrepreneurial skills, can be a game-changer in helping India become a $5T economy. We are delighted to partner with Tata Trusts to empower 3500 women entrepreneurs from rural UP and Bihar, to get equipped with access to digital skills and resources. Digital skills not only Impact the economic and social development of the villages, but also improves the quality of life and contributes to the nation’s economy” said Mr. Harish Krishnan, Managing Director, Public Affairs and Strategic Engagements, Cisco India & SAARC.
FREND is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to enable progress in rural India through a network of digitally-empowered women changemakers. FREND traces its roots to the Internet Saathi Program – a joint initiative by Tata Trusts and Google – which extended internet access and digital literacy to women in rural India. FREND acts as a vehicle for other like-minded companies and institutions to utilize the Internet Saathi network and enable dissemination of information and services in the rural areas thereby creating newer avenues of income for these women in rural India.