Empowering women from small cities

The third edition of ‘Project AIRSWEEE’, which imparts entrepreneurial skills to women, will be launched in February

Tharakeshwari Palanisamy has landed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She is among the three shortlisted for a global fellowship programme, organised by TiE Global and supported by the United States Mission in India. She will be flying to the United States to shadow a global founder or CXO for 10 days.

Prior to this, Tharakeshwari, who is in the business of manufacturing and exporting cold-pressed oil, got to shadow the head of an Indian company.

“One of the best lessons I learnt from the experience was seeing the employer and employee ideate to arrive at a solution,” says the 39-year old founder and CEO of Ganya Agro Products.

All-India Road Show on Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship or ‘Project AIRSWEEE, started in 2016, was launched to empower women in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities with the knowledge and tools required to run a business. It has so far completed two seasons, empowering 575 women from 20 states.

Seema Chaturvedi, chairperson, AIRSWEEE and managing director, AWE Funds, says the “innovation lab” has grown in the last few years with more entrepreneurs from small towns benefiting from the learning experience.

In the first season of AIRSWEEE, in-person training was combined with remote mentoring. One hundred and fifty mentees were introduced to India- and US-based mentors, who guided the participants on various aspects of entrepreneurship.

After these workshops, five participants from each city received intensive mentoring for an additional six months to develop some of their ideas into sustainable businesses.

“In the second season, mentees of the first batch were also roped is as mentors,” says Seema. From 150, when they first started, the number has increased to 450 in AIRSWEEE 2.0.

Throwing light on shadow mentoring, Seema says this was inspired from the healthcare industry.

“The best way for an entrepreneur to learn is to see a mentor act. Whether it is watching them deal with employees, take decisions or build their teams, learning from others is essential for any business to scale up,” she says. Talking about the kind of businesses that were shortlisted, Seema says the nature of the business was not their consideration. “We had women running enterprises ranging from selling handicraft to pickles; we were seeking to find out if they had a sustainable and viable business idea,” says Seema. TiE plans to launch the next season in February 2020.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 8:28:35 PM |

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