The Government of India has set a new benchmark in inclusive development with the basic values being set around ‘antyodaya’ with the core philosophy being Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayaas. Empowerment of women and promotion of entrepreneurship have been key focus areas of the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several transformative steps have been taken in this direction. These include the MUDRA scheme for giving interest free loans to the poor, Ujjwala scheme whereby women are given free gas connections to free them from the drudgery of smoke-filled cooking, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao to educate the girl child, as well as abolition of triple talaq to give dignity to women.
Encouraging Startups and Entrepreneurs have been thrust areas of Government through StartUp India and Invest India programs. Women today are leading by example in all walks of life – from winning medals in Olympics to building tech based Innovative solutions. The Indian IT sector too has played a key role in gender equality. As per the NASSCOM estimate, ~35 % of the total IT workforces are women. Under the National Policy on Software Products, 2019, the Government is placing special emphasis towards promoting and recognising women led entrepreneurship as leaders for tomorrow.
Towards this, the MeitY-NASSCOM Women Startup Entrepreneurs Awards is the first step to recognize and cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit in women and inspire the next generation of women to lead the Indian digital era so as to serve as guiding role models; to encourage promising entrepreneurs who not only contribute to the nation’s economy but also to the social community; And to provide leadership and serve as guiding examples for the emerging and young future entrepreneurs.
The results of these Awards were declared on August 17, 2021 at a special event held virtually to celebrate Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The awards were open to participation from tech start-up women entrepreneurs and an overwhelming response was received across the country with receipt of 159 applications. After detailed deliberations and review based on entrepreneurial journey, financial performance, strategic direction, innovation & disruption, market growth, business viability & sustainability, business model scalability, corporate social responsibility, product, business, market and technology excellence, an eminent Jury comprising of leaders from MeitY, UN Women, Industry and Academia selected 12 women entrepreneurs as winners, while 2 women entrepreneurs were declared as the Jury Choice Awardees and one woman entrepreneur was felicitated as a special mention. Each winner and Jury Choice Awardees were rewarded Rs. 2 Lakh.
From developing a unique based business outreach model using software, to providing next generation digital products to institutions of all sizes, to developing the AR/VR solutions, to handling waste streams, these 15 champions are heralding a new generation of role models for women who are second to none, when it comes to tech based solutions.
The Minister for Electronics and IT, Communications and Railways, Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw congratulated all participants and winners for the excellent products developed and said, “I understand many of the concepts you have developed are in the product stage. I think that is the true mark of success. Going by last year, I hope this year too, we will see many participants turn their concepts into products. MeitY will always be your partner and provide support in your journey towards becoming successful entrepreneurs”.
Giving a fillip to women entrepreneurs, 33 women have also been selected for MeitY-NASSCOM Tech Women Entrepreneur Accelerator Program to give them access to networks, connects, learning and resources that are needed to build scalable, profitable and global businesses.
President, NASSCOM, Ms. Debjani Ghosh said “There is nothing more powerful and appealing than seeing women in science, technology and drive innovation. If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it has given us that moment to pause and think about how we want to rebuild the future. I think we have a fantastic opportunity to think about what we need to change as we rebuild. The capabilities are there and technology enables us to solve the biggest problems. We need men and women to work together and build a truly inclusive future.”
On this special occasion of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, the 75th year of Independence of India, MyGov under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, and UN Women jointly launched the Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Innovation Challenge 2021, to encourage technology solutions developed by Women Entrepreneurs that facilitate Women’s Safety and Empowerment. The aim of the Challenge is ‘Nari Sashaktikaran’, that is to empower women to help them achieve their full potential.
Evidence indicates that one of the greatest barriers to empowerment and development is violence experienced by women in almost all spaces- private, public, worksites and cyber. The Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021 will support and promote women entrepreneurs and women led Start-ups to find technology solutions for women’s safety and empowerment.
Encouraging entrepreneurs to participate in the Challenge, the Hon’ble Minister, Electronics and IT, Communications and Railways Shri Ashwini Vaishwnaw said “The Government will be supporting the start-ups and entrepreneurs in the most difficult phase, the initial risk phase. Out of 100, even if 20 entrepreneurs grow to the next level, that will be a great journey for the country. And we are looking at million more flowers to bloom, a million more entrepreneurs to create more jobs, to make their mark.”
Secretary, MeitY, Shri Ajay Sawhney said “Women have a special intuition on what might work. They are far more focused and multitasking comes naturally to them. It is heartening to see that the Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021 is focusing on tech solutions for women’s safety and empowerment. This is extremely important as women will know what the problem is and will solve the problem with technology as an enabler.”
Hosted on the MyGov platform, the Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021 will accept entries till September 17, 2021. 10 Nominees will be shortlisted and supported through a mentorship programme and each nominee will be awarded a grant of INR 1,00,000 to develop the Proof of Concept of their ideas. Following a rigorous screening process, five winners will be selected by a Jury in November 2021. The winners will be awarded INR 5,00,000 each to develop, market and implement their solutions.
“The Shri Shakti Challenge provides a much-needed platform to foster women-led solutions that can improve women’s safety, build economic gains and benefit thousands of other women as we build back from COVID-19,” said UN Women Representative in India, Ms. Susan Ferguson.
“The Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Innovation Challenge is a platform where women tech entrepreneurs and start-ups can showcase their products designed by women, for women. The Challenge will feature innovative solutions relating to women’s safety and empowerment”, said Chief Executive Officer of MyGov, Shri Abhishek Singh.
The first Shri Shakti Challenge held in 2020 had received an overwhelming response, with a total of 1,265 entries and 10 Finalists comprising of women entrepreneurs, scientists, and change-makers from across the country, who had submitted innovative solutions to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of India has commenced celebration of 75 years of progressive India and the glorious history of its people, culture and achievements through its initiative Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which is dedicated to the people of India who have not only been instrumental in bringing India thus far in its evolutionary journey but also held within them, the power and potential to enable Prime Minister Modi’s vision of activating India 2.0, fuelled by the spirit of AatmaNirbhar Bharat.
Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is an embodiment of all that is progressive about India’s socio-cultural, political and economic identity. With growing opportunities, an increasing number of women have been breaking out of corporate life and embracing entrepreneurial careers as an alternative to inflexible work practices. Most countries realize the potential contributions women entrepreneurs make to any nation’s economic growth. Women, as entrepreneurs bring a new corporate culture with attention to flexible time, work share, co-working, distance working etc., to the table and they have the perseverance and determination to succeed.
The Amrit Mahotsav Shri Shakti Challenge 2021 is being implemented under the Multi-Partner Trust Fund (COVID-19) Programme. For more information, registration details and application guidelines, visit MyGov at https://innovateindia.mygov.in/amrit-mahotsav-shri-shakti-challenge-2021/ starting 17th August 2021.