IDRC-supported database on women entrepreneurs gets an enthusiastic response

August 06, 2017

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L to R: Ayyappa, Chandrakala, Nivedita Prasad & Anitha at Chocolate Philosophy office in Banglore. Chocolate Philosophy is Bangalore's only gourmet chocolate maker. It was started by friends Nivedita Prasad and Uma Raju.

IDRC

Women entrepreneurs face obstacles at every step of setting up their operations, from obtaining raw materials to managing logistics, scouting for buyers and, eventually, selling their products. It is these last two hurdles in particular that sparks their interest in an IDRC-supported database for women entrepreneurs.

“Men don't take women seriously, whether they are my factory workers or suppliers. They need to respect women,” says Kamla Pai, a female entrepreneur who runs a factory in India’s Karnataka state.

Developed by WEConnect, an international agency that connects women-owned businesses to buyers around the world, the database includes approximately 600 women entrepreneurs from India. Smija Kumar, who works with the Wadhawani Foundation, a not-for-profit organization working in developing entrepreneurship, said that the database would support women in making their businesses profitable. “Women face multiple challenges as entrepreneurs. There are buyers who prefer to buy from women-owned businesses. Inclusion of women in a database that comprises women-led businesses will help them enormously,” she said.

IDRC is supporting WEConnect in the self-registration and e-certification of women-led enterprises of all sizes who need access to local and global markets. “We can already see the results of this initiative. More than 4,000 persons are employed by these 600 women who have done business worth US$127 million, which is impressive,” said Arjan de Haan, program leader of IDRC’s Employment and Growth program. Jennifer Daubeny, the Canadian Consul General in Bengaluru, was upbeat about IDRC’s support in developing the database.  “The work is so successful that IDRC now plans to scale it up in 17 more countries with WEConnect.”

State chief minister Siddaramaiah said the state government would finance the certification of women-led enterprises so that more women can be included in the WEConnect database, which will expand their business opportunities. In 2014, while announcing the state industrial policy, the state government declared special incentives and concessions for women. Every new industrial area of the state has a special zone for women entrepreneurs.