STEP (Shakti -The Empathy Project), an incubation programme for women social entrepreneurs is organizing India’s first social impact idea fest for women – The Wings Challenge on 20th March 2022. The shortlisted women entrepreneurs will win cash prizes upto 1 lakh rupees and also gain access to corporate benefits from STEP’s ecosystem partners including Zoho for Startups.
They will also get direct entry into STEP’s incubation programme which is a high-level network and resource driven community program that aims to support the scaling up of women-led social impact startups.
The event will witness marquee women leaders like Ms. Naghma Mulla (CEO, EdelGive Foundation), Ms. Seema Chaturvedi (Founder & Managing Partner, AWE Funds), Ms. Pooja Goyal (Co-Head of the Carlyle Global Infrastructure Opportunity Fund (CGI)), Ms. Vaishali Neotia (Co-Founder & CEO, Merxius), Ms. Rachna Chandrasekhar (Accelerator & Impact Manager, Upaya Social Ventures), Ms. Kuppulakshmi Krishnamoorthy (Global Head – Zoho for Startups) and many more as panelists who will share their insights on entrepreneurship from their own journeys as well as the need for ecosystem support for women entrepreneurs in the early stages.
Speaking on the event, Ms. Renu Shah said “Women are the economic dividend of this country. Women led startups earn 10% more in cumulative revenue over a period of 5 years. This shows that building an ecosystem for women entrepreneurs is not social service any more but an economic agenda. It’s time to change the narrative. Let’s agree that you, me and everyone who wants to see India move to the next level will work towards building an empathetic environment that will encourage and support women entrepreneurs.”
According to a report by IndiaSpend, female entrepreneurship is particularly critical for India because it catalyses women’s participation in the labour force, at a time when India’s Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) is at a historic low, having fallen to 17.5% in 2017-18. Only 7% of working-age women in India have paid jobs currently, as per a recent report in The Economist. Yet, only seven of 100 entrepreneurs in India are women and of them nearly half (49.9%) get into business out of necessity rather than aspiration.
STEP was founded by Ms. Renu Shah in 2019 with an aim to build a community of women entrepreneurs and provide them with necessary skills and resources for social good. Their first cohort had 16 women entrepreneurs working in varied spheres. By February of 2022 a total of 48 women have graduated from their programme.
These social startups range from solutions addressing antibiotic resistance in TB patients using AI, creating battery twin in EVS, a wellbeing programme for family caregivers, marketplace for sustainable products to teaching youth in prison and sexual protection and awareness programmes in children among others.
About STEP (Shakti – The Empathy Project):
Shakti-The Empathy Project is an incubation program for women entrepreneurs working towards finding solutions to social problems in India. Founded in 2019 by Ms. Renu Shah, the program’s core focus is on: creating a safe space for open exchange, capacity building, mentorship, funding & networking opportunities for women entrepreneurs with a focus on tier 2 and 3 cities. STEP was one of the four NGOs to get grants under Facebook Pragati in 2021.