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Adding a chapter in Kolhapur, Maharashtra to increase access to digital skills and knowledge

Launching a leadership academy to provide mentorship to women entrepreneurs

Mumbai, NFAPost: Mann Deshi Foundation and Mastercard have announced the expansion of the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women so that it will empower 20,000 woman-led small busiess in Maharashtra.

According to Mann Deshi foundation findings, more than 50% of India’s MSMEs being in rural areas and over 20% owned by women. It also states that a robust support structure can expedite the growth of rural women entrepreneurs.

To address these issues and evolving market dynamics, like consumer preference to pay digitally, Mann Deshi Foundation and Mastercard will add more new chapters for the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women in Kolhapur, Maharashtra.

Conduct training

The joint initiative also envisages the introduction of a leadership academy for women entrepreneurs to conduct training on advocacy and provide mentorship.

Despite their ambition, innovation and passion, women entrepreneurs are held back by several factors like lack of awareness and exposure to best-in-class business practices, limited linkages to markets, constrained access to finance and minimal support to scale.

The expansion will increase members’ access to digital skills and knowledge, access to legal advisory services and marketing clinics, strengthen sales networks among women entrepreneurs, and launch a pathway for these women entrepreneurs to become agents of change.

Small business

The chamber already has chapters in Pune, Chiplun, and Satara in Maharashtra through which 10,000 women have been benefitted since 2018. Through this expansion, small businesses to tap into digital networks for sourcing and selling, with a focus on:

  • leveraging technology to facilitate business operations and to scale skills trainings including introducing women business owners to low-cost technology for digital bookkeeping, virtual networking and online classes;
  • providing hands-on demo workshops to enable small business owners to test and learn about time-saving machines, e.g. dal mills, solar dryers, packaging machines that can help scale up their business;
  • retaining existing members through continued provision of monthly services ranging from legal aid clinics, financial education workshops, exposure visits to market opportunities; and
  • adding new services to the monthly roster, such as digital marketing clinics.

Commenting on the new initiative, Mann Deshi Foundation Founder Chetna Sinha said women entrepreneurs are keen to expand and grow their businesses, realise their ambitions and dreams, and build a secure future for themselves and their families.

“They need access to affordable finance, supportive networks, and the latest market information. The Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women recognizes that connecting women to knowledge, markets, skills, financial services, technology and networks is essential to helping women-owned businesses grow and thrive,” said Chetna Sinh.

Sustainable economy

And, Chetna Sinha said Mann Deshi Foundation’s vision is to empower women to make their own choices and to be celebrated as equal and valuable members of their families and communities.

Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth founder and President Shamina Singh said the organisation’s collaboration with the Mann Deshi Foundation to expand the Chamber of Commerce for Rural Women is part of its ongoing commitment to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

“Through innovative and trusted partnerships, we are empowering women entrepreneurs with the digital skills and resources necessary to operate more efficient and productive businesses. By providing female entrepreneurs with opportunities to scale their operations through increased leadership, sales, marketing, and networking, we are creating a world that works better for women and creates opportunities for everyone,” said Shamina Singh.

The expansion is in line with Mastercard’s commitment of Rs 250 crores ($33 million) to help reboot Indian SMEs and enable business recovery amid the Covid-19 outbreak. As part of the commitment, Mastercard has launched multiple initiatives in India to help small businesses go online, drive inclusive growth and empower women entrepreneurs.

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