New Delhi: The inaugural edition of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) NITI Aayog State Workshop Series on Enabling Women-led Development through Entrepreneurship was organized at CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) Auditorium, Goa on 3rd October 2023. The workshop was held in collaboration with the Government of Goa with a focus on the western region of the country.
The workshop recorded over 500 participants, including women entrepreneurs, local self-help groups (SHGs) and clusters, government officials, industry representatives, incubators/accelerators, financial institutions, philanthropic foundations and more. The primary focus was deliberating on a hub-and-spoke model to extend women-led development to grassroots levels, covering the last mile. Eminent dignitaries, including Dr. Pramod Sawant, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Goa, Dr. V K Saraswat, Member, NITI Aayog, and Shri B.V.R Subramanyam, CEO, NITI Aayog, graced this landmark workshop.
Dr Pramod Sawant, Honorable Chief Minister, Government of Goa, stated that the Goa State Vision 2047 will be prepared with the help of NITI Aayog. Celebrating the three-year milestone of the Swayampurna Goa initiative, Dr Sawant emphasized its focus on skill development and deploying “Swayampurna Grameen Mitras” for the doorstep delivery of government services in every block and Panchayat. Furthermore, the Chief Minister reiterated the role of women in socio-economic progress, announcing the Swayampurna e-bazaar during Dussehra, aimed at expanding market access through Common Service Centres.
Highlighting NITI Aayog’s mandate for cooperative federalism, Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member NITI Aayog, emphasized the pivotal role of states in driving the nation’s growth. He highlighted three key priorities: Maintaining the employment-to-education ratio, promoting women’s entrepreneurship, and restructuring the workforce.
NITI Aayog CEO, B V R Subrahmanyam, reaffirmed the central government’s unwavering commitment to women led development as the top priority. He underscored NITI Aayog’s support in assisting state governments to set up institutions like itself in each state: “It need not necessarily be a separate institution; it could be a department or an existing body. But make it the central point to think and plan for the future. Its staff should not be engaged in any other work,” he said, urging states to tap the expertise at NITI Aayog.
A series of new collaborations were announced to support women entrepreneurs. Key highlights are the partnership between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and NITI Aayog; the launch of Udyam Uplift – an initiative of CAxpert to strengthen compliance among women-led businesses and the launch of the first two cohorts under WEP’s Award to Reward(ATR) initiative. The first ATR cohort led by WEP Partners Microwave Consulting and SIDBI, titled WEP-Unnati, accepts applications from green entrepreneurs pan-India. The second cohort, WeNurture, would be led by the Atal Incubation Centre – Goa Institute of Management.
Throughout the day, the participants engaged in panel discussions, fireside chats and deep dive discussions on essential topics such as harnessing policy ecosystems for startup growth, promoting access to finance and compliance, and making women entrepreneurs market-ready. The workshop featured valuable insights from successful entrepreneurs and experts in various fields. Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, discussed significant strides made under Startup20.
The workshop culminated with the release of the report ‘Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs’ and an inspiring valedictory address by Sulakshana P Sawant, President of the Goa State Women’s Self Help Group Association. She celebrated Nari Shakti and hailed the Women Reservation Bill, foreseeing increased women’s participation in politics and the economy.
Delivering the vote of thanks, Anna Roy, Senior Adviser, NITI Aayog, and Mission Director, WEP, highlighted that the workshop’s outcomes will translate into actionable steps and a comprehensive state-level roadmap.
The State Support Mission, an umbrella initiative by NITI Aayog, is strategically designed to support states and union territories through collaborative endeavours, including setting up State Institutes of Transformation, operationalizing the NITI knowledge hub, and engaging with lead knowledge institutions for state-specific growth drivers. Under the State Support Mission, workshops are being conducted to provide a platform for Centre-State exchanges and forging partnerships.
The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) incubated in NITI Aayog and now transitioned into a public-private partnership is a one-stop shop for information relevant to women entrepreneurs, including SmartMatch feature for government schemes, incubators, accelerators and private sector initiatives, a community page, and mentorship module.