Villgro and UNDP Accelerating Women-led Businesses in India With ‘EMPOWER Her Journey’ Programme


New Delhi:  Villgro, one of India’s leading social enterprise incubators, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India has launched a new programme to accelerate women-led businesses in India.  Called ‘EMPOWER Her Journey,’ the programme will support women entrepreneurs by bridging the financing gap and accelerating access to digital tools for enhanced market reach.

Women entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating employment opportunities, enhancing human capital investments, fostering development outcomes, driving innovation, and furthering equality. But they often face challenges in their entrepreneurial journey, like lack of awareness of relevant government/banking schemes, cultural constraints, and access to mentors and networks as inhibitors to business growth.

The ‘EMPOWER Her Journey’ programme will address these gaps through peer-to-peer learning sessions, training, networking opportunities, and mentor support. It will also train entrepreneurs on digital transformation tools to increase sales and business acceleration strategies such as Go-To-Market, fundraising, and impact measurement.

“We hold the firm belief that empowering women entrepreneurs extends beyond economic growth; it sets in motion a ripple effect that profoundly influences families, communities, and the nation. With ‘EMPOWER Her Journey,’ we envisage a future wherein women-led enterprises lead in driving social progress and sustainable development, further strengthened by the unwavering support of UNDP,” said Jenaan Lilani Bhargava, Advisor, Villgro. 

She further added, “As part of Villgro’s ongoing commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs in India, the ‘EMPOWER Her Journey’ programme complements initiatives such as the TVARAN Accelerator and Powering Livelihoods. With this programme, we aim to leverage our 20+ years of expertise, empowering 1,600 women across the country to thrive in entrepreneurship, foster growth, and achieve remarkable success.”

Economic gender parity is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. At UNDP, creating a more enabling and equitable ecosystem for women’s economic empowerment remains central to our work. “Empower Her Journey” has been specifically designed to unlock the untapped potential of women-led start-ups with incubation and acceleration support. With Villgro as a partner, we are confident that this initiative will catalyse the entrepreneurial journey of all women entrepreneur participants,” said Amit Kumar, Head of Sustainable and Inclusive Growth, UNDP India.

Applications for the programme are open to Indian enterprises founded or co-founded by women or having women in senior executive roles who have less than five years of operations in any sector. Startups at the ideation, pre-revenue, or revenue-generating stage can apply.

The first cohort will see the participation of 100 women-led startups and women entrepreneurs. Applications are open until August 30, 2023. 

Interested women entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply here: