New Delhi: Laying a strong foundation to empower rural women entrepreneurs in the digital economy, NASSCOM Foundation and Gen, a global company dedicated to powering Digital Freedom through its trusted Cyber Safety brands including Norton, Avast, LifeLock and Avira, have successfully trained women entrepreneurs in Latur and Osmanabad districts in Maharashtra. The initiative was to digitally upskill over 200 women Agri and Agri-allied entrepreneurs to enable them to participate in the digital economy. 99 per cent of women entrepreneurs trained under the project are now able to use digital communication tools to boost their businesses and 100 per cent of the women entrepreneurs have been successfully skilled in digital adoption thereby, giving them enormous opportunities to thrive through technology.
The project being executed by grassroots partner, Swayam Shiksham Prayog (SSP), has helped narrow the gender gap in accessing digital technology and has also supported the digital empowerment of rural women. The training has provided opportunities for women entrepreneurs to have market linkages, and knowledge of various government schemes and also to establish, maintain and accelerate their businesses in agriculture, dairy farming, and more.
A report by Bain and Company reveals that COVID-19 has affected almost 73 per cent of women-run enterprises in India, while the revenue of nearly 20 per cent of female entrepreneurs dwindled to zero. Recent research by MicroSave Consulting also highlights that as many as 82 per cent of female-owned micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) reported a decrease in their income, compared to 72 per cent of male-owned enterprises. They faced greater restrictions that made them unsustainable, including decreasing demand, lack of knowledge of digital technologies, rising costs of inputs, inability to access markets, and an increased burden of care work at home, among other factors.
Nidhi Bhasin, CEO, NASSCOM Foundation said, “Gender disparity in economic participation remains significantly high and deeply embedded in our social fabric. That said, we have seen first-hand how technology fosters inclusion by creating equity in opportunities. It is a catalyst that enables women become economically active, particularly in this ever-evolving digital world. As we work towards that goal, we are honoured to collaborate with Gen to empower women agri-preneurs by equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to adapt and participate meaningfully in the digital economy.”
Kim Allman, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Gen said, “We are here to help women unlock new possibilities for the future through technology. In collaboration with NASSCOM Foundation, we are providing access to resources to help close the gender gap and give women the tools they need to thrive in today’s digital world.”
Trishala Ramesh Mane, an entrepreneur from Latur, said, “I was doing quite well in my businesses, but had very limited knowledge of a smartphone and did not know how to use it to expand my business. After the training, I could make and receive calls, read WhatsApp messages, and watch YouTube videos to enhance my business. I even got the opportunity to understand about the various Government schemes. The training has enormously helped me learn basic to advanced smartphone features and digital platforms, applications in improving my business aspects, and gain confidence through the newly acquired skills.”
Digital transformation is an enduring journey. However, through initiatives like these, women entrepreneurs are being supported with digital knowledge, and educated on online channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube critical for their development and growth and required to advance in the digital economy.